From Jordanian immigrant to restaurant owner, Katy Azar is happy - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

From Jordanian immigrant to restaurant owner, Katy Azar is happy to be an American

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SPOKANE, Wash. -

It's the end of the lunch hour at Azar's Restaurant in Spokane.

Katy Azar is putting the final touches on a pair of her famous Middle Eastern sandwiches.

Business is good, but it hasn't always been easy.

Before moving to the United States in 1973 and eventually opening up the restaurant in 1980, Azar and her family lived in fear.

“All the cities had a siren and when it goes off everyone needs to go into their bomb shelters to stay safe,” said Azar. “You're always under the threat of war, you don't ever feel safe.”

Azar was born in Iraq. In addition to living through three revolutions, her father was a Christian minister in Baghdad between 1962 and 1967.

“It was not easy on us at all, it was a lot of discrimination,” said Azar. “There were a couple of times that the father was under a lot of threat.”

The family moved to Jordan and lived there until 1973. They lived through four wars before finally resettling in the U.S. and eventually moving to Spokane.

“We want to live in peace,” said Azar. “And we want to live where there is no threat of war.”

After years of hard work, including multiple jobs, the Azar's got on their feet and opened up the family restaurant.

Azar worked as a translator for 17 years before taking over the business from her parents. She helped more than 100 families just like hers.

“A lot of them do appreciate being here in America,” said Azar. “So the opportunity is a great thing.”

Her message to those who want to call the U.S. their new home:

“Love the opportunity and learn all you can and work hard and realize the American dream is real,” she said. “This is the best country you can be in.”

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