A Family Business Devoted to Great Food and Belly Dance for Over 40 Years!
by Elianae Stone
posted December 18, 2013
I had unexpected fun visiting the Desert Inn in Canton, Ohio, recently and enjoyed watching Sherena, the professional belly dancer, dance. The Desert Inn is a family operated business that opened in 1970, specializing in exceptional food with an Arabic flair in a comfortable atmosphere. The owner, Mark Shaheen, has been a fan of the art form of belly dance, and the Desert Inn has a long tradition of featuring live belly dancing at the restaurant every week. Mr. Shaheen, a kind, welcoming fellow, spoke to me briefly about the Desert Inn.
“We have the longest-running weekly belly dance show in Canton”, he mentioned, and pointed out that other notables in the business, like Tanya Papovich of Project Belly Dance fame, danced there. Sherena had a splendid start as a bellydancer, with her mother also being a professional dancer, and starting her early in restaurant entertainment. When I asked Sherena (who was on a brief hiatus between sets) how long she had danced there, I could not help but be impressed by her answer: 21 years! It says a lot for a business to have such loyalty to their talented dancers, and a lot about Sherena’s experience and tenacity in the art form.
“Dancing at the Desert Inn has brought so many experiences that have been valuable to my performing career!” said Sherena, “everything from interacting with customers, to how to handle costume or prop glitches, and also making beautiful memories with families who continue to return during the holidays, anniversaries , birthdays, etc.. I have been told that they have been continuing to attend my performances and have photos from each year from when I was twelve years old until now! Although stage performances and restaurant performances are two different ‘animals’, I will say that the weekly performing experience really helped my career to grow, and the memories I have made growing up with this unique restaurant are priceless!”
Indeed, many have captured pictures of Sherena performing as a young girl and still look forward to her shows every week. It is a rare treat to be able to see live shows on a weekly basis, and the Desert Inn has carried on this tradition in a beautiful way. Anyone stopping by the Canton area on a Friday night should come enjoy the ethnic atmosphere, tasty food, and live dancing!
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- 11-16-11 "
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