Ziyad Samara, a Palestinian from the West Bank, grew up in Palestine and Kuwait in the late 1950’s and 1960’s, and met his future wife, Souad, while living in Kuwait. His older brother emigrated to the U.S in 1969 and in 1971 Ziyad’s father borrowed money to take the rest of the family to the U.S., initially settling in Chicago Heights, Illinois. Ziyad attended Prairie State College while working as a busboy and dishwasher. Continuing to work in the restaurant business, he became a restaurant manager in Springfield, Illinois, working at Lum’s Restaurant from 1978 to about 1996. In 1999 he became the owner of Sgt. Pepper’s Café.