Many restaurants have a story which shares their history and passion. Here is our story. Rehana, my mother, left India at age 23 with $80.00. I was 1 and my brother was almost 4.
We didn’t see her again for 6 years. She was pursuing a more prosperous life for us in the United States. In India, she was a professor, but as is often true for immigrants, she couldn’t find a job in her field here. She was not deterred and began saving her pennies and opened a restaurant in 1976 when my brother Faisal and I emmigrated from India. As a family, we worked in the restaurant, me as the hostess at 7 years old and my brother as a server at 10. A few years later, we opened a second location. We grew up in the business- all of us.
Rehana and her girls
The passion for food and entrepreneurship began early. We would feast on the best Indian meals at our own restaurant and try every new restaurant in the area for ideas. Rehana was such a natural at putting the simplest of ingredients together, deliciously and effortlessly. She was eating and serving “clean foods” before the hype, using fresh vegetables, meats, seafood, and spices to create a balance of traditional native dishes and many with a modern twist. She was an adaptive chef. People would come from all over to enjoy her cooking. Faisuda’s (a combination of mine and my brother’s names) was a must on many visits by out-of-towners and a favorite of the locals.
Rehana’s menu is inspired by her creativity and love of adventure and by her kindness and generosity. She was that cook who would take a few pantry staples and create a bounty. Along with her guarded recipes, I have learned other recipes from cherished friends and family and incorporated them into our rotating menu: hand-crafted pieriogies from my husband’s family, authentic jerk chicken while visiting Montego Bay and my favorite restaurant in Silver Spring, Negril, luscious paella which I first tried in Spain, spicy traditional huevos rancheros, or juicy beef satay from my love of Asian cuisine. You will never have the same experience twice.
Rehana, my beloved mother, grandmother to my three daughters, and friend to many would love to know that her daughter was taking notes as a little girl watching her mommy create magic in the kitchen. She would giggle at my tweaks of standard recipes. She would marvel at the new recipes. She would be supportive of my community outreach (though she would caution me to take on one cause at a time). Mostly, she would be happy to know that she made the right decision as a young mother who left her children in India to pursue a better life in the States and that her legacy is being shared one meal at a time.
She passed away in 2000 at 54 leaving her family an estate worth $1.5M. That same lady who came here with $80, through her steadfast habits and determination, had achieved the American Dream. I ask that you enjoy your meal and take a moment to thank my mother, Rehana.
Meet the Owners
Rick and Huda Maltbie made Fredericksburg their home in 2018 and immediately fell in love with the history and charm of the city. They married in August of that same year and settled in South Stafford. He traveled to DC daily for work and she re-entered the world of real estate after teaching for 13 years--a job she loved but not the commute. They have a blended family of four daughters, one son, and too many puppies. While their children are no longer at home, they still return to help out in the "family business".
About a year ago, as was always the case, Huda invited Rick to preview a loft downtown so she could get inspiration for one of her home remodels. Within 30 days, they bought it and soon moved in and a new love affair with the city began--that of its walkability. It was much like DC where she grew up but it lacked the variety of restaurants.
Of course, there are fabulous places where they dined with phenomenal food but none offered the experience of diverse menus or the intimate setting they craved.
From that came the idea for Rehana's-- a short walk of 4 blocks from their home. Huda's family has been in the restaurant business since she was a child and she learned to cook by watching her mother prepare the best dishes which were both flavorful and authentic. They purchased 104 Wolfe St. and converted it from a private residence to a small but spacious full service restaurant. His vision was to have a lounge on the upper level which serves signature cocktails and small plates with a custom bar, comfortable seats, and a cozy atmosphere. A space to relax and unwind. Her vision was to have the commercial kitchen of her dreams (albeit this one is small) with a main dining room to host her invited dinners, which are much like the ones she hosts in her own home, and for carefree weekend brunches brimming with french press coffee, mimosas, bloody marys, and lucious comforting morning fare. They made sure there was an inviting outside space for summer events and fires in the fall.
The true vision for Rick and Huda is to extend Rehana's as a Gathering Place which everyone can call on as a home away from home. Come share in this vision as they embark on this journey to win the hearts and stomachs of locals and visitors alike.