Moby Dick House of Kabob turns 30

What started as an unremarkable luncheonette in Bethesda, Maryland, has become one of the Washington area’s best restaurant success stories, and it all started with pita bread.

Moby Dick House of Kabob turns 30 years old this year.

Iranian immigrant Mike Daryoush opened his first restaurant, Moby’s Luncheonette, in Bethesda in 1989 serving mostly American-style breakfast and lunch. Daryoush struggled to maintain the business, until he decided to build a traditional clay oven, like those in Iran, and put freshly-baked pita bread on the menu.

It was a hit with customers, and Moby’s pivoted to a Persian-inspired menu, and Moby’s Luncheonette became Moby Dick’s House of Kabob. (The Moby name is a nod to a popular restaurant in Tehran by the same name.)

Moby Dick opened its second location in Georgetown in 1992, and continued to expand in the Washington area. In 2017, it opened its first location in Baltimore. There are two dozen locations now.

All Moby Dick restaurants have traditional clay ovens and bake their own breads daily.

Last summer, Moby Dick relocated its downtown Bethesda restaurant to a larger space in the former Stomboli Family restaurant next door.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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