To escape communism, Leo Keka swam across a lake from Albania to Montenegro in 1990. After spending a year in Serbian prison and refugee camps, he made his way to Massachusetts, where he started washing dishes at Anthony’s Pier 4 in Swampscott.
Ten years later, he opened his own restaurant Alba in Quincy Center. It was just after the September 11 terrorist attacks.
When the coronavirus pandemic hit, ending dining in at all restaurants in Massachusetts for months, Keka was readying for the launch of a new restaurant in Hanover, Alba on 53.
But Keka stayed hopeful that he and his staff would get through it.
"I feel like [the] past three months, we haven't been able to be ourselves. And I don't think just us. I feel like everyone around us. But we'll get better," he said.
While the restaurant was closed for in-person dining, Keka told us in the latest episode of "The Dish I Miss" podcast what menu item he missed making the most.
Now Alba is back open for both indoor and outdoor dining and Keka said his new restaurant is opening soon.
To hear more about Keka’s story and how his restaurant is doing now, click play in the podcast player or find the episode wherever you listen to podcasts.
Listen to our free podcast, "The Dish I Miss," where Boston chefs explain what they miss cooking diners during the coronavirus crisis. It's on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.