In an unassuming procuring middle in Henrico, two brothers from Iraq, Mohammed Mohammed, 34, and Ahmed Alhasani, 25, are drawing a various crowd of diners from the Richmond area and past with their from-scratch Middle Eastern delicacies. Located at 12422 Gayton Road, Shawarma Bistro is the kind of place you virtually wish to preserve a secret, one whose menu transports patrons to a world of kibbe, baba ghanoush, okra stew and, after all, the principle attraction — rotating spits of glistening, slow-cooked meat.
Richmond journal: When did you begin the enterprise?
Mohammed Mohammed: I’m an area fireman, and my brother is a chef, and we began a small, multicuisine meals truck that seemed like a fireplace truck in 2016. It had a very completely different enterprise identify, and we began taking it to occasions, and it was extraordinarily busy and nonstop reserving. We received this spot in September 2020. We have folks come from Williamsburg, Charlottesville, Virginia Beach and Northern Virginia.
RM: When did you come to Richmond, and what introduced you right here?
Ahmed Alhasani: I got here right here in 2016 from Turkey. I used to be speaking with [Mohammed] and stated, “I want to do something for me, I want to work for myself.” I used to be dwelling in Turkey and had labored in six or seven eating places there. I began cleansing tables, and in the future I received employed in [a] kitchen after they wanted assist. From there it clicked. … When we opened this, I stated, “I want to do it the way we do back in Turkey and Syria.” Everything is from scratch, particularly the shawarma.
Mohammed: I left Iraq in 2005 and went to Syria and received a chance to come back to the U.S. in 2008 and got here right here in search of training. I began going to high school and began volunteering for the fireplace division, and that’s now my full-time profession.
RM: Was cooking an enormous a part of your lives rising up?
Alhasani: We have been all the time cooking in the home, and it was very uncommon that we might exit to eat — on weekends is once we would go to eating places. When I used to be rising up, it was like, “Hey, Mom and Dad, I want to eat shawarma,” particularly on Fridays. That’s why we needed the open kitchen, as a result of if you happen to journey to Turkey or Middle Eastern international locations, the eating places are related. People wish to see the place the meals is ready. That’s how they really feel comfy that the meals is clear, and we wish to deliver the identical vibe right here.
RM: How would you describe your clientele?
Mohammed: It is in all places. One of the explanations we put “me gusta” [on our T-shirts] is as a result of we now have a big Spanish inhabitants that is available in, particularly from Venezuela and Mexico. It’s the [eye-catching] meat on the spit, like al pastor, it’s much like what they’re used to. We even have a number of Arabic of us who are available in, as a result of the closest factor they should one thing like that is in D.C.