Born in Karachi, Pakistan, Akbar Malik moved to America in 1963 and washed dishes while attending Florida International University. Eventually, he came to own a handful of IHOP locations across Miami-Dade County. There was a pair up north on Biscayne Boulevard near 128th and 167th streets. Two more, in Homestead and Naranja, were also his. He sold them all to open north Dade's Ham & Eggery (530 NE 167th St., Miami; 305-947-1430). It would go on to become his best-known restaurant.
Since the late '60s, the
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In 2012, Malik decided to sell. Five decades in the restaurant business was enough. When the regulars learned of his plans, they lost it. "They were pretty mad," the now-72-year-old Malik says. "A few asked me to stay."
But the deal went through anyway, and the new owner hatched plans to bring in a dollar store. It seemed logical. There was already a bounty of tchotchkes packed inside the Ham & Eggery, including a tabletop Pac-Man game, a scale model of Scooby-Doo's Mystery Machine, and a small library of mid-20th-century cookbooks.
Then the dollar-store idea fell through. So Malik approached the new owners and proposed to pay rent and stick around. They agreed, giving his shamelessly greasy diner fare a reprieve.
Malik realized cooking was what he was made to do. Indeed, you can still find him at Ham & Eggery throughout the week manning the griddle or chatting with regulars. "Two of my kids are medical doctors, and my wife is a nurse," he says. "Ham & Eggery paid for all of that education."