Gas Station Gourmet
BURGERS & POLITICS
An Iranian-American store owner in rural Arkansas melds food and politics together in harmony.
BY AL HEBERT
The tiny town of Crosses, Arkansas, is a long way from the United Nations. But cus- tomers of the local Pig Trail Bypass Country Cafe have learned a thing or two about international relations thanks to café and c-store owner
Hooshang Nazarali. His popular “Hooshburger” has
opened up more than one discussion in the small community about critical issues facing the world.
Nazarali’s story starts in his native Iran where he
grew up watching American Westerns. “I watched all
the cowboy movies with John Wayne, Steve McQueen
and Charles Bronson,” he said. “We thought all of
America was like cowboy movies.”
In 1977, Nazarali moved to East Texas to pursue
his education. When the Iranian Revolution began
and the shah was overthrown two years later, “my
mother told me not to come back,” he said. But
where would he live?
The laid-back, peaceful lifestyle of rural Arkansas
appealed to Nazarali, who had also noticed a store
for sale in Crosses. The small town, “looked like a
good place to raise the kids,” he said.
Owning a store was not in his original game plan,
but he said, “Life takes you places and you go with
it.” So in 1982, Nazarali found himself the owner
of a convenience store in rural Arkansas. He didn’t
change it much in the first five years but he did think
about the cowboy movies from his youth. “I began
to change the store inside and out. I used rough
cedar to make if look old-fashioned, to make it look
Western,” he said.
Nazarali’s Pig Trail Bypass
Country Cafe serves up
delicious food flavored
with some Iranian