Born in Russia, Yuri Krasnov has now been in the United States for 25 years, and will be taking his first jump into the restaurant business this year in Northborough.
He does have a history on the tightrope, however. As a hand-balancer in the Moscow Circus, Krasnov was a longtime circus performer, and defected to the U.S. in 1986. According to an AP story in the New York Times, Krasnov and his wife Luba Pisarenkova, in 1987, "gave their first circus performances at the Memorial Coliseum here this weekend since they defected from the Soviet Union last Sept. 22. The married couple walked away from the Leningrad Music Hall performing troupe and into the United States Embassy while the group was on tour in the Seychelles."
The circus is a world away, now. Krasnov quit show biz in 1987, started teaching gymnastics and got a job working in the electronics field. Now, he wants to try his hand at owning a restaurant for the first time.
He and his partner Hakan Zirh are opening Zem Han in Northborough at the former Tom's Eatin' and Drinkin' Place at 4 West Main St. (the big brick building at Northborough's "center).
"It'll be Mediterranean style," said Krasnov, "and we are bringing in a very good chef from New York, Yusef Usta, who is originally from Turkey. The food will be Turkish and Greek and Italian. It's going to be very different culinary dishes. We're trying to bring a feel of like you are eating outside, but inside. We're trying to bring in a Turkish style with paintings and the walls and textures."
Zirh moved to the United States a year ago from Turkey, where he owned two successful restaurants. Zirh has also been successful in the textile industry in Pakistan.
"It'll be our first restaurant in the United States," said Krasnov, "and hopefully will not be the last one. We hope to maybe open another in Worcester."
Krasnov said the former marketplace layout is being opened up for the new restaurant.
Zem Han should be open within a month, after inspections and other documents are completed, Krasnov said. The owners have applied for a liquor license, which generally takes about three months to obtain, but they will open the restaurant before getting the license (waiting to serve liquor).
Zem Han will also have pastries, sweet cakes, breads, ice cream and yogurt for sale.
"We'll have good service, nice food and a friendly atmosphere," said Krasnov.