Syrian Refugee Realises Dream By Opening New Cafe In Greenock

Posted on: 6 October 2021

Syrian Refugee Realises Dream By Opening New Cafe In Greenock

A Syrian family who found a safe haven in Inverclyde are now sharing the tastes of their homeland with their new friends and neighbours.

Refugee Muhannad Helmi has made his dreams come true by opening his own cafe after fleeing his country together with his family.

Now settled in Port Glasgow with his wife and two children, the 35-year-old from Damascus is sharing his passion for cooking.

He was one of hundreds of thousands of Syrians forced to leave the war-torn country and has made a new life for himself in Inverclyde.

Muhannad, who still has family in Syria, has gone into business with his cousin Fadel, opening the All Day Brunch restaurant on Nicolson Street, which was let by Bowman Rebecchi.

He said: "I have always loved cooking, it is a passion of mine and I am so happy to open the cafe.

"I love to serve people our food to see what they think. I am learning all the time and ask them what they like and what they don't.

"The cafes are very big in Syria, they seat maybe a hundred people. People go to cafes to socialise, meet friends, they are very busy."

 

In their newly-opened Nicolson Street premises Muhannad and his staff serve up Syrian favourites with a fusion of Lebanese flavours and it is proving popular with customers.

It is a real family affair too, with Muhannad working with his brother Mohammad as well as his cousin.

Five years ago Muhannad along with his younger brother, who is 32, arrived in the UK as part of the Syrian resettlement programme.

They had been forced to leave their home country a decade ago, crossing the border to Jordan to safety before making their way to Egypt.

They arrived in Inverclyde three years ago and now form part of a close-knit community of Syrians who have all made a new home here.

Muhannad and his wife have had a warm welcome and made many new friends.

Their children have settled well at school and they say the only challenge they have faced is adapting to the Scottish weather.

Muhannad, who cooks in the cafe with his wife Raghad, 29, said: "We live upstairs in the winter, it is so cold here!

"Syria has a different kind of heat. My children Naeen, nine, and Qamer, five, love their school Newark Primary.

"I am so excited about the cafe. We are very, very happy here."

For more details, click here.

This article and images appeared in the Greenock Telegraph.

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