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Freedom of choice

It’s not unusual to spot Tuscany Gardens restaurant owner Mohsen Afshartabar at his Penn Valley and Grass Valley restaurants or building a house locally during the course of a week.

“I can’t stand sitting,” said Afshartabar, 52. “I’m always busy.”

The man who emigrated to the United States from Iran in 1979 works seven days a week, he said.



Afshartabar hit the ground running when he arrived at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City in 1979.

Robbed by a cab driver when he first arrived at the airport, Afshartabar wasn’t phased. He became a cabbie himself.




But the restaurant business is his lifelong passion, and it didn’t take long before he returned to the industry his mother’s side of the family had taught him growing up.

He found a job at New York Fried Chicken in Manhattan and quickly worked his way up to manager at Kentucky Fried Chicken.

These days, he’s happy owning Tuscany Gardens and buying land and supervising the construction of houses.

The two restaurants serve Italian food, seafood, steak, ribs, salad and sandwiches such as Mario’s Ultimate Pizza Sandwich. The Grass Valley restaurant, at 491 Sutton Way, is about a year old; the one in Penn Valley has been a 13-year mainstay.

His philosophy drives him to excel, he said.

“You do your best at everything,” Afshartabar said. “It’s the people’s (positive) reaction. That’s what I go for. These are things that stay in my mind.”

Afshartabar’s native country is never far from his mind. He visits about every other year, but aside from visiting family, there’s little else positive about the visits, he said.

“I hate to see the country the way it is now,” Afshartabar said. “Over 90 percent of the country is unhappy now.”

“We respect animals here in this country more than they respect human beings in Iran,” Afshartabar said.

Freedom of choice is key to Afshartabar’s decision to live, work and raise a family in the United States. He and his new wife, Afsaneh, are expecting their first baby.

They live in Penn Valley. His children from a previous marriage, Roxy, 20, and Alex, 18, work at the restaurants.

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To contact Staff Writer Greg Moberly, e-mail gregm@theunion.com or call 477-4234.


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