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
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."