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LONDON, ONT. -- It’s a Middle Eastern restaurant that started off inside a food truck in London's Lambeth neighbourhood six years ago.
“Here we are six years later with four restaurants and number five, six and seven waiting to open,” says Yasser Ali, chief of operations of Shelby’s Food Express.
Shelby’s, which has made a name for itself in the city, makes Middle Eastern fusion food that has become popular amongst foodies.
“People love us because we give them that traditional Middle Eastern flavour but at the same time we are young guys in the shawarma game,” says Ali.
“We play with our menu, so we have many fusion items like the shawarma poutine and the shawarma Doritos and many other menu items that capture all the flavours in your pallet.”
Ali says many of the recipes are passed down through family; however they do have chefs from Lebanon on their team who are creating all kinds of new flavours. When it comes to what's most popular, he says Londoners have their top picks.
“Hands down, it’s the shawarma poutine and the rice and chicken bowl that are the quick go-to that is London’s favourite comfort food."
Shelby’s is trying to make sure people are still able to receive their favourite foods by offering takeout and free delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ali says sales are down 40 per cent, but they are managing to keep all restaurants operational for now.
“We are lucky that we have a lot of popularity in the city and a lot of community supports so people are ordering online, and Uber [Eats] and Skip the Dishes are doing free delivery so that's kind of keeping us afloat for right now to employ our staff and pay the rent."
Despite the drop in business and revenue, Ali says the restaurant will continue to help support the community and those in need of a meal during this trying time, because it’s all about helping one another.
"It’s the number one thing we stand by. If we support the community, we hope they continue to support us and we have been blessed in moments so we want to give back at the same time. That’s part of our nature, if we see someone in need we want to help them out.”