Taylorsville restaurant owner finally back with his wife, young sonMay 12, 2021 12:04PM ● By Carl Fauver
Taylorsville restaurateur Winsten Asif was recently reunited with his wife and son, after nearly seven years apart. (Carl Fauver/City Journals)
By Carl Fauver | [email protected]
It’s a long way from Karachi, Pakistan, to Taylorsville, more than a third of the way around the earth, in fact (7,900 miles). But still, it shouldn’t take more than 6 1/2 years to bridge that gap.
Unfortunately, however, that’s how long it took Taylorsville restaurant owner Winsten Asif, 31, to reunite with his wife, Sitara, 25, and son Katzar, 8. Bureaucratic red tape kept the small family 11 time zones apart, until they finally received some assistance from a pair of Utah elected officials.
State Sen. and Taylorsville Economic and Community Development Director Wayne Harper pitched in locally, while U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney’s office did the same, back in Washington, D.C.
Finally, on March 22, three weeks after their 10th wedding anniversary, Asif greeted his wife and son at the Salt Lake City International Airport, at the end of their 28-hour, three-stop flight.
“It was so emotional to finally see them and hug them again,” he said. “We were married on March 3, 2011, and Katzar was born on December 29, 2012. I left for America before he was 2 years old (August 11, 2014). They were supposed to be able to follow me a few months later. But it ended up being nearly seven years.”
Without wanting to go into much detail, Asif admitted religious persecution was one of the primary reasons why he was eager to get his family safely out of his home country. More than 200 million Pakistanis (more than 90%) are Muslim. But Winsten and Sitara were each born and raised members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Across the entire country, they were among only about 4,000 members of the faith.
“My parents converted to the LDS faith, but there were very few of us in Pakistan,” Asif said. “We are too small to have wards and stakes over there. And we were not able to marry in a temple. My wife and I are now talking about having a temple marriage here for Christmas.”
After working in a Pakistani restaurant cooking pizza, Asif knew he wanted to own an eatery here. He learned how to cook Greek cuisine after arriving in the United States and opened his Greek House restaurant (2654 West 4700 South) last summer. Taylorsville Mayor Kristie Overson attended the Aug. 26 ribbon cutting.
“It is just such a heartwarming story (Asif reuniting with his wife and son),” Overson said. “I am so glad [Wayne Harper] was able to get involved and help in some small way. I think it shows how much Taylorsville cares about our businesses. Personal relationships with are business community members are everything. I’m just so pleased with the happy ending to their story.”
Asif is now working to assist his siblings in their effort to immigrate to the United States. He has no relatives from his side of the family in Utah now. However, his wife’s grandmother, mother, uncle and aunt are now in the state.
Soon after arriving, young Katzar had to receive his immunization shots in order to enroll at his new West Valley Elementary School.
“I like it here,” the 8-year-old said. “The school is like the one I was in at home.”
For now, Katzar said he most enjoys drawing in school. But he also hopes to someday join the United States military.
His mother, meantime, has now joined her husband working at the Greek House. But Sitara is also considering taking some college courses.
When asked whether they plan to have more children in Utah, Winsten said “Yes, I want 4 or 5.”
After a pause and a sideways glance, Sitara said “maybe two more.”
Regardless of what number they land on, both say they are thrilled to finally have their lives rejoined in Utah. And, for his part, Harper is also happy for them.
“After talking to Asif and learning about the situation with his wife and son, I reached out to both [Sen. Mike Lee’s and Romney’s] offices,” Harper said. “Romney’s office really took the ball and ran with it. Then just recently, I stopped in to pick up some food at the restaurant, and Winsten jumped up to say ‘I want you to meet my wife and son.’ He had such a big smile, and I am so happy for them.”
“When I first left Pakistan, people told me it would be a quick process to get my wife and son over here,” Asif said. “Of course, that was not true. But I am happy we are together now. I know this is a good land of opportunity, but you have to work for it.”