Eddie Hantas of Hummus Xpress on Basketball and What Brought Him from Lebanon to Tempe
Lauren Saria Eddie Hantas, owner and chef at Tempe's Hummus Xpress.
Since January, Eddie Hantas has been serving healthy, fresh Mediterranean food in a fast-casual atmosphere at Hummus Xpress in Tempe. The Subway- (or if you prefer, Chipotle-) style restaurant is his second venture, opened about year after he shuttered his first place, a pizza and hookah joint called Eddie's Bistro. This week, we're chatting with the former professional basketball player -- more on that later -- about the long road that brought him to Arizona. And don't forget to come back tomorrow for the second part of our interview.
We'll start with the fact that Hantas used to be a professional basketball player in Lebanon, where he grew up. At 17, he played on the country's national team, traveling to Malaysia, Iran, and Syria to play other teams. If you ask, he might try to play it down, but if press him for information, he'll admit he won an award for being one of the country's two top players.
Lauren Saria Some of the fillings at Hummus Xpress.
It was the sport, not the food, that brought him to the states -- more specifically to Las Vegas, where he was going to attend community college to try to play Division I or II basketball. But he was broke, and when he couldn't find work, he wasn't able to start classes. Hantas then landed in Michigan, where his aunt lived.
He got a job working at a Greek restaurant, his first experience working in a kitchen, and continued to try to pursue his dreams of playing professional sports.