A Short-Lived Ethiopian-American Dream

For two months, during the summer of 2007, the luckier residents of Fairbanks, Alaska, enjoyed Ethiopian food.

Tekul - the state's first, last and only Ethiopian restaurant - was the enterprise of Alex Antohin (Teferi Alexey Antohin), a great-great-grandson of Haile Selassie, the last emperor of Ethiopia, and a graduate of the University of Fairbanks, where his father, a native of Russia, was a professor. He wanted to bring the cuisine of his maternal heritage to the last place on earth you might expect to find it. So he built a yurt - an Alaskan native dwelling - to house his restaurant, which he called Tekul (a thatched-roof native Ethiopian dwelling similar to a yurt).

After two months in business, Antohin closed his restaurant for the rough Alaskan winter, and when the weight of the snow collapsed its roof, he decided not to reopen - at least for now. But he dreamed of once again bringing Ethiopian cuisine to the state where he grew up.

Tekul had a website and a My Space page with the restaurant's menu and photos of its construction and food. Both are still online.

Finally, this family tree shows where Tekul's owner falls in the lineage of Emperor Haile Selassie, whose reign ended in 1974 when he was executed by the leaders of a communist dictatorship that took over the country and ruled for 17 years (search "Teferi Alexey Antohin" on the link).

Alex Antohin died on Oct. 18, 2015, from injuries he suffered in a highway accident four days earlier in San Diego, where he was a teacher at Innovations Academy. His friends raised money to bring some of his family from Ethiopia to be with him in his last days.

Report Additions or Corrections