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Original Paymon’s location near UNLV to close after more than 30 years

After more than 30 years in business on Maryland Parkway near Flamingo Road, Paymon’s Mediterranean Cafe & Lounge will close at 9 p.m. Feb. 15. The locations at 8380 W. Sahara Ave. (near Durango Drive) and 8955 S. Eastern Ave. (near I-215) remain open.

Paymon’s owner Paymon Raouf said the closure is coming about because of a shift in demographics.

“The neighborhood has changed tremendously in the past few years,” he said. And he said continual construction in the area has at times greatly restricted access to his business.

Raouf said he opened the Middle Eastern Bazaar, a Mediterranean grocery, in 900 square feet in July 1988.

“I started putting out cheap plastic tables and started making some simple sandwiches,” he said. “People came in, they liked it and here we are today.”

He said within three years, he realized that the Las Vegas of that era wasn’t large and diverse enough to support such a specialty market, so he began focusing on the restaurant side. Various expansions over the years — the last in 2004 — eventually gave him 6,000 square feet. The Hookah Lounge opened in 2000, the West Sahara location in 2004 and the Eastern spot about eight months ago.

Because of its proximity to the UNLV campus, the restaurant long was a gathering place for staff and faculty.

“One thing that I’m heartbroken about is that UNLV customers come every single day,” Raouf said. “They’re very loyal, and we’re loyal to them. I waited about two years to make this move, pulled money from the other locations to keep it alive. The funding wasn’t there.”

For now, he said, he has no plans for any new restaurants but plans to focus on his newest spot and on expanding nightlife offerings at Paymon’s on West Sahara Avenue.

Contact Heidi Knapp Rinella at Hrinella@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0474. Follow @HKRinella on Twitter.

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