Natives of Michoacan, Mexico, Carmen Torres and Valdemar Ibarra have been living their American Dream cooped up inside their small orange-painted restaurant nestled within the busy Amnicola Highway.
“All the people from Chattanooga, from Hixson, Redbank, Dunlap, Dayton who are all customers, many of them friends because we were eager to have family, eager to have friends, so we have many friendships now,” Ibarra said.
He was a businessman from his days in Mexico, but left that behind when he arrived in the U.S. as an immigrant in 1992. Ibarra began working in California but found no steady income, so he moved to the Chattanooga area, where his cousin resided, not long after.
Walking through the door of Zarzour’s Cafe on Chattanooga’s Southside feels a bit like walking into a time capsule containing four generations of Zarzour family history, owners of the small brick building for over 100 years. The shelves and walls are adorned with an array of heirlooms and memorabilia, from family photos, celebrity autographs and newspaper clippings to Charles Zarzour’s naturalization papers from 1946, signed in Arabic.