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Uzbek cuisine to open in Citrus Heights

A new cuisine is slated to open at 7800 Sunrise Blvd., in a spot formerly home to Yalla Yalla bakery. // M. Hazlip

By Mike Hazlip—
Patrons of the popular Yalla Yalla bakery in Citrus Heights will have a new cuisine to choose from starting this summer.

Yalla Yalla served Mediterranean foods since opening in 2018 at the corner of Sunrise Boulevard and Antelope Road. Now, a new Uzbekistan restaurant has announced plans to move into the space. Caravan Uzbek Cuisine is in the process of remodeling the interior of the restaurant and husband and wife owners Farhad and Aziza Soatova hope to start offering halal foods later this month.

In a July 11 interview, Yalla Yalla owner Alan Liddawi confirmed to The Sentinel that he plans to continue to operate his business in a shared commercial kitchen with Caravan. Both restaurants have similar foods, Liddawi said. He added that he plans to open two more Yalla Yalla locations outside Citrus Heights.

Caravan plans to have a grand opening event for Sunday, July 16, Liddawi said.

In an interview with The Sentinel, Aziza Soatova said their food truck is currently operating at 3525 Elkorn Blvd. and has gained popularity, prompting the couple to seek a more permanent location. Soatova said she is excited to be opening the first location, but there have been challenges that delayed the planned June start-date.

After opening the food truck business at the height of the pandemic, Soatova said she is no stranger to challenges.

“It was very difficult,” she said. “We put every cent together. It was very hard, But we did well.”

Soatova said the idea of moving into the building where Yalla Yalla was located occurred to her during a family trip to nearby Leatherby’s Ice Cream. She saw a sign advertising a ghost kitchen and convinced her husband to ask about the opportunity. When he approached Yalla Yalla owner Anan Liddawi about the idea, he was very supportive, Soatova said.

Opening the restaurant is something Soatova’s husband, who once worked as a police detective in their native country, wanted to pursue, she said.

“He had passion for cooking, and that’s why when he came here, he said I want to open a restaurant,” she said.

Caravan’s menu features traditional foods from Uzbekistan using fresh ingredients, Soatova said. Her oldest child, 14, is helping with the business.

As immigrants from Uzbekistan, Soatova said the family lived in New York before settling in the Sacramento area. Now with four children, Soatova said the food truck business was a way to earn income while making time for her family.

“I love my kids and I can not imagine, the life without them and everything for them,” Soatova said. “We are working very hard for them to give them the opportunity for education and to give them really good education.”

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