Syrian refugee family beats the odds to open new London restaurant
LONDON, ONT. -- A Syrian refugee family now living in London beat the odds for the second time, fulfilling their dream of opening a take-out restaurant Friday, and doing it during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Excitement was in the air and sweet treats were being cooked up in the kitchen as eight year old Noov Alabrach joked with London Mayor Ed Holder.
"What’s your job?" asked the mayor.
"My job is to help my dad," replied the youngster with a grin as wide as his face, and his eyes beaming with pride.
Holder and several other dignitaries were on hand to help Rasool and Faekah Alabrach and their five children cut the ribbon on Damascus House at Commissioners Rd. West and Andover.
The takeout restaurant serves authentic Shami tastes.
"I am very happy," said Rasool in broken English.
You see, fulfilling this dream was no ride on Easy Street. The family fled war torn Syria eight years ago, and landed in Canada with little knowledge of the country, and without speaking either of its official languages.
Four years later they ended up in what would become their home, London.
Rasool supported the family with restaurant jobs and by driving for Uber.
"So he was four years in Canada, and he was working so much, and he just decided to open a restaurant for his self," said his youngest daughter, 12 year old Ayah, helping her father with the translation.
London West MPP Peggy Sattler, on hand for the occasion, said opening a new business is tough at the best of times, but during a pandemic is something else.
"We know the hospitality industry is not an easy industry to crack. To open a restaurant when you’re new to Canada, when you don’t speak the language, and in the middle of a pandemic, it’s very, very impressive."
Ward ten city councillor, Paul Van Meerbergen told the crowd of supporters that this family’s success story is what Canada is all about.
"People come here to start anew, to start fresh, start over, and create something better. Isn’t that what’s happening here today. I think that’s great. Let’s give them a hand."