In 1987, Trajan Pruteanu escaped communist rule in Romania by swimming across the Danube into Yugoslavia.
He lived in a refugee camp for weeks and then immigrated to America, where he worked for two years saving up enough money to bring his wife and 12 children to the United States from Romania.
Now three decades later, his son, David Pruteanu, is honoring his father’s bravery with the opening of his first restaurant, Little Danube LLC. The restaurant is slated to open July 30 at 519 N. 21st St. in Ozark.
“This was my dream since I was in high school,” said Pruteanu, 31, who was only a few weeks old when his father started the journey to America.
The Ozark eatery serves Eastern European fare, he said, and the specialty is langos, a Hungarian deep-fried potato bread. He’s partnering with The Artisan’s Oven LLC on the dough.
Pruteanu said he invested $25,000 to rehab the restaurant. He’s renting the 900-square-foot space from Chambers Properties LLC for $1,250 a month. Pruteanu has two cooks on staff, and he’s the head chef.
“There’s a huge eastern European population in the area,” he said.
Menu options include Eastern European specialties like bacon, onion, sour cream and gouda on fried dough, as well as flambeed cherries and ice cream on fried dough. Pruteanu said he’ll also serve schnitzel, stuffed cabbage rolls and a deep-fried burger with Swiss cheese.
The chef and owner of Little Danube has been cooking classic French food for 12 years. Pruteanu said he trained under chef Pierre Chambrin, a former White House chef, at the Saint Louis Club.
“I was the only non-French in the kitchen,” he said, adding he’s always worked long hours and multiple jobs “just so that I could prove to them, and prove to myself, that I could cook.”
Most recently, he was the executive sous chef at The Army and Navy Club in Washington, D.C.
General aviation terminal expansion is set to wrap by August.