F
ouad Noujaim and his wife Hiam were born and raised in Lebanon, a Middle Eastern country bordered by Israel and Syria. They were married in 1977 and had two daughters, one in 1978, the other in 1985. Toward the end of Spring 1989, Fouad and Hiam decided to visit Cyprus, an island off of the coast of Lebanon, in order to remove their two daughters from the daily battles ensuing around them. After two months in Cyprus, they decided to continue to Connecticut in the United States of America, where Fouad's mother and five brothers resided, before returning to Lebanon for the school year. 

However, as the end of the summer approached, Fouad and Hiam realized that returning to Lebanon was still extremely dangerous and decided to enroll their two daughters in school in Connecticut, until it was safer to return to their home. At the time, they thought they would only stay a year. 

Once that year had passed, Fouad and Hiam realized that a return to Lebanon was not possible. They needed to start a new life, and as a result, needed to find a new profession. An accountant in Lebanon, Fouad was unsure which type of career to pursue, especially since his Lebanese degree could not be used in the United States. After careful consideration, Fouad and Hiam decided they would open a Middle-Eastern bakery and grocery store. 

During the first few years of their business, they encountered many obstacles. Neither had ever experienced the intricate details of running a business, especially when their English language skills were still basic, and Fouad had never been involved with the food industry. Their families, however, rallied around, and each member helped in his or her own way. Some packaged items and stocked shelves, some obtained the proper licenses, while others were involved with marketing. The entire enterprise gave new meaning to the term "family affair."

An absolute perfectionist, Fouad made hundreds of loaves of bread in order to find the best recipe and master the art of baking. Although it was difficult at first, Fouad made certain that his bread, pies, and all other items were tasty and delicious.

Today, more than two decades later, Fouad begins work each morning at 3 a.m., when he starts baking bread. When the bread is finished and ready for delivery, he and Hiam prepare and bake the pies, which vary from spinach and cheese pies to zaatar (oregano) pies. The grocery store itself is open from 7 a.m.- 7 p.m. At that appointed closing time each night, Fouad shuts down the shop, goes home to eat, rest, and spend time with his family before he sleeps for a few hours and begins all over -- eight hours later.