22 Apr John Gilchrist: Jerusalem Shawarma uses family recipes in fast-casual restaurants
Country Hills, Royal Oak, 16th Avenue North and Macleod Trail are covered. “We need one more,” says Izzo Abufarha of his family’s Jerusalem Shawarma shops. “There’s Alaa, Diaa, Belal, Sudqi and me,” naming his brothers. Five of them. So five restaurants should work just fine.
Izzo has launched Jerusalem Shawarma Macleod (8720 Macleod Trail, 403-230-0011) just a few weeks after Diaa and Sudqi opened the Royal Oak location at 8650 112 Ave. N.W. (403-375-1126). And the five-strong partnership already has its eyes set on one more.
It’s been a rapid expansion for the brothers over the past couple of years. Arriving from Ottawa with a freshly minted Carleton business degree and a job offer from Telus in 2007, Izzo Abufarha noticed a lack of high-quality shawarma shacks around town. So a few years later he convinced his brothers to participate in a new business plan — bring authentic Palestinian cuisine to Calgarians in a fast-casual environment using their grandfather’s recipes. (He had run a restaurant in their home town of Jenin.) A good plan. So they joined him; Alaa and Diaa from Jordan with university degrees in management information and English literature respectively, and Belal, the accountant, and Sudqi, enrolled in SAIT’s Petroleum Engineering program, from Ottawa.