A new restaurant and lounge is celebrating its grand opening Friday on Delilah Road in Egg Harbor Township. And this isn't just any new restaurant.

Owner Michael Beshay, who has owned and operated a string of pizzerias in the area, says he was going for something totally new and different when he designed- and built - an exotic oasis from the hustle and bustle of the old airport circle and named it Kings Lounge. He designed and decorated the space himself, with accents such as a working bamboo waterfall mounted on the back wall between the fireplace and cleverly enclosed wait station. Beshay built that, along with everything else in the sleek, elegantly appointed space.

"You can't buy something like this anywhere around here," he says while showing a new guest around his lounge. And it is a lounge - with leather seats in front of that fireplace, high-top tables and booths mixed in with dining tables, and never a hint from staff that you've overstayed your welcome. "A lot of times, you go some place to eat and you order and it's good service, you eat; then it's time for you to go. That's not how it's done in any other country; it's only in the States that you don't get that service and luxury."

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Beshay learned his relaxed and friendly hosting style while growing up in Egypt, where he worked in his parents' restaurant before migrating to the U.S. He picked up more tips on cuisine and service while traveling through Asia. Then he sought out Chef Christopher Cassel, who he describes as "the best chef around" and "lured him back home from Florida" to create an "all-American menu with hints and twists of Asian, Middle Eastern and Italian influences."

At Kings Lounge, every guest is treated as a "royal member" by Beshay, who admits, "I beg them to stay longer; I know their kids' names, what their hobbies are. I know every customer by name and they come to see their friend Michael, they give me a kiss and hug when they sit down and we visit for hours."

To fuel those long hours of catching up, Cassel turns out a variety of exotic dishes from cumin-spiced lumpia rolls - an east Asian spring roll - to calamari with mae ploy, a red curry sauce, and a baby spinach and raspberry salad with candied walnuts and sheep's-milk feta cheese. Plus, there are the locally expected bread - with hummus at Kings Lounge - and seafood dishes such as shrimp scampi, Scottish salmon and filet of sea bass.

And to maintain the royal standard at Kings Lounge? "We do a lot of role-playing," Beshay says. "It's not as simple as people may think; the smallest comment from a server or busser can change your whole experience. I don't believe in mistakes; mistakes happen when you allow them. That's why I stay on top of everything from A to Z and that's the reason we've been open two months now (before the grand opening). It's been a lot of practicing and a lot of free food to friends and family."

To celebrate all their hard work, the grand opening will include entertainment by a live band and belly dancer from 5 p.m. to midnight Friday.

Contact Felicia Compian:

609-272-7209; FCompian@pressofac.com

Kings Lounge

6415 Delilah Road, Egg Harbor Township

Hours: 5 to 10 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. Grand opening Friday features live entertainment

5 p.m. to midnight

Phone: 609-383-8200

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