One year later, former refugees celebrate opening of restaurant in Sherwood Park
EDMONTON -- A pair of Syrian refugees spent Sunday giving back to the Alberta community that helped them realize a dream.
One year ago, Sherwood Park’s Donair and Shawarma House opened its doors for the first time, offering customers a free meal.
On the business’ one-year anniversary, the restaurant again offered a significant discount: 50 per cent off.
“They support us a lot,” explained co-owner Mohamad Alsheikh Mohamad.
“A lot of customers, they love our food,” added his business partner, Mahdi Moussa.
One diner, Cheyenne Bowler, confirmed this: “We’re usually here once every two weeks… I’ve tried many of the dishes—and outstanding.”
“We have a lot of friends now in Sherwood Park,” Moussa said.
Alsheikh Mohamad owned three similar restaurants in Syria, but walked away from those businesses with nothing because of the war.
“I left everything behind me: my business, my friends, everything. I come here to save my family,” he said.
He, his wife, and their five children sought refuge in Canada in 2014.
Even as they were settling into their new life, Alsheikh Mohamad knew he wanted to open another restaurant. It was a dream that would be realized after he met into Moussa, another Syrian refugee who had come to Canada with his wife and three daughters.
The pair now has a fourth daughter, born in Edmonton, named Nada.
“Because of Canada,” her father laughed.
The one-year milestone on Sunday was a celebration of both the restaurant and the men’s personal success.
“People like us, like our food, and believe me, I totally forget everything in the past,” Alsheikh Mohamad told CTV News Edmonton.
Customer Warren Letros said he wished the pair continued happiness.
“That’s amazing for someone to have something back home and then come to a different country and continue his business and his career.”
Alsheikh Mohamad hopes the story behind Donair and Shawarma House inspires other newcomers.
“I don’t want anyone to stay home and get money from the government. The government (helped) us a lot when we came to Canada—now our time to help the government, help the people.”
With a report from CTV News Edmonton’s Amanda Anderson