For Bashkin Ruko, the American Dream is alive and well.
After washing dishes, bussing tables and cooking meals for 10 years at a local restaurant owned by a relative, the 47-year-old Albanian immigrant recently opened his own eatery, Ruko’s Family Restaurant at 9385 Mentor Avenue.
“This is my first restaurant and I’m happy because my dream came true,” said Ruko during a quick break from making meals for hungry customers.
In Albania, Ruko ran a convenient store but decided to leave his native country when it fell into economic and social turmoil throughout the 1990s.
“Right now, Albania is doing OK, but before we had very little food. We had nothing,” Ruko said. “When I was a kid I remember my father going to work with no shoes.”
After immigrating to America 12 years ago, he decided to make a go of it in Cleveland because he has relatives here and he actually likes the snow.
“I had $1,300, and after paying my first month’s rent and security deposit, I had only $10 left over,” said Ruko, who became a U.S. citizen five years ago.
Even though he had little cash, he did have a job at his nephew’s popular restaurant, Nick’s Family Restaurant in Timberlake. Ruko enjoyed the restaurant business and decided he wanted to open his own some day.
With a lot of help from his nephew who provided Ruko with the recipes of his most popular dishes, Ruko’s Family Restaurant opened for business Aug. 3.
Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the restaurant offers an eclectic mix of American, Greek, German, Hungarian and Italian meals. The Italian selections are by far the most popular with customers. The restaurant also offers daily specials and discounts for seniors and kids.
“Business so far as been OK, but with every week it has been getting better and better,” Roku said. “I’m not worried about the economy. You just have to work hard.”
Ruko’s is open Mon-Thurs., 7 a.m. – 9 p.m., Fri. and Sat. 7 a.m. - 10 p.m., and Sunday 7 a.m. – 8 p.m.