Some people are just meant to feed others in life.
Wael Jomaah owner of Chilliwack Kabab can hardly wait to serve his clientele from his new little storefront restaurant on Yale Road.
“It has been my dream since arriving in Chilliwack two years ago,” Wael says.
He and everyone around him, have worked feverishly hard to open Chilliwack Kabab, a casual restaurant in downtown Chilliwack, offering delicious Middle-Eastern cuisine made from scratch.
As an experienced chef, who worked at high-end Syrian restaurants for more than 15 years, Wael has perfected traditional Syrian recipes for flavourful kababs, tasty chicken shawarma, and his signature falafel.
“I guarantee you will find something you like,” he said.
Despite some folks thinking he was a little crazy to risk opening a restaurant, Wael persisted with passion and drive until he was able to make it happen.
Sometimes it really does take a village. Wael’s sheer determination has been nothing short of awe-inspiring to members of the group from Broadway Church, who sponsored the Joomah family of seven, under the Government Assisted Refugee program for one year.
Members of the church, as well as the local Chilliwack muslim community, have been giving it their all, for months, to help Wael get the restaurant ready for its March soft opening. They’ve been at it day and night, blood, sweat and tears included. They helped with the renovations, paperwork, electrical, health inspections, school enrolment, painting, cash register, marketing, menus, and so much more.
It’s been a hard slog. Escaping from their war-torn home took the Jomaah family several years. They ended up in a refugee camp for a short time, and then in Jordan awaiting a chance at a better life in Canada. Once the sponsorship went through they flew to Montreal, and then squeezed into a Vancouver hotel awaiting a rental opening in Chilliwack.
Now it has all come together beautifully.
The immaculate little eatery has been cheerfully painted in the green and red colours of Wael’s homeland of Syria, with cute checkered curtains in the window. The carefully crafted menu for Chilliwack Kabab is handwritten on a charming chalkboard.
The church group actually continued their support of the family into the second year, to help make sure the family members were fully integrated into the school community, and the business was launched.
“It’s a small way that the whole community can support them,” said Carolyn Bartel, member of the Broadway Community Church group. “Just be a little patient, with the language and the prep time.”
They want Chilliwack Kabab to succeed, with all their hearts, and there is a ton of good will behind this effort.
“Don and I are still very much involved with them,” Bartel said. “We are now part of their family.”
When you think about it, it’s the Chilliwack way.
“As a church we had volunteers who were willing to do a lot of the hard work to get the restaurant open,” said Don Stewart of Broadway Community Church. “It’s been incredible.”
The doors are open. The menu is printed.
All anyone has to do is come through the door and try the food.
Already familiar with Middle-Eastern food? Great! You’ll love his menu choices. Don’t know a kabab from a kibbeh? Simple, let Wael guide you.
“You won’t be disappointed!” he says.
Chilliwack Kabab, 8-45840 Yale Rd, Chilliwack. 604-392-1114. Check the menu at ChilliwackKabab.com