Neighborhood Eats: Order in or help frontline workers with restaurant Teranga

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Eyewitness News had planned to take you to the restaurant Teranga back on March 13, but that's when our world started changing and we refocused.

But now, Neighborhood Eats is taking you there to show the restaurant before the virus hit and how it's adapting now.

"You come into someone's house, even if you're not expected, they'll invite you to share food with them," said Pierre Thiam, of Teranga.

That's the way Thiam grew up and it's front and center at his restaurant Teranga.

"Teranga is a wolof word, wolof is the language spoken in Senegal, the country I'm from and it means hospitality," Thiam said.

You can step up to the counter, and load up on grains, vegetables, salads, proteins, all gluten and dairy-free, many with West African flavors and spices.

"You can taste these exotic flavors but there's a comforting thing," Thiam said. "It's comfort food."

One of Thiam's favorite things to cook is fonio, an ancient African grain. It's high in amino acids, fiber and iron.

"You can use fonio in any recipe and replace your grain," he said.

Partner it with whatever proteins and sides you like and try some of the house sauces. Watch out for the pepper jam.

Teranga is located at the Africa Center on Fifth Avenue. A fast casual restaurant where people tend to linger because of the community feeling.

"I like the atmosphere here," one customer said.

"It's good to have an African presence in a neighborhood," another said. "So, I think it's great."

Fast forward to now, just weeks later.

"What has changed in your business since the novel coronavirus hit?" Eyewitness News asked.

"Oh, so much has changed," Thiam said. "We had to lay off more than half our staff."

They have a smaller staff, but an expanded delivery route that now includes Brooklyn. They focus on serving hospital workers with their GoFundMe campaign.

"That's been really beautiful, to help us go through this, it's tough a tough moment," he said.

Thiam hopes the flavors of West Africa continue to provide comfort to his customers, until they can gather at Teranga once again.

"I'm hoping," he said. "I'm definitely an eternal optimist so I hope we get back there."

Neighborhood Eats' Lauren Glassberg bought some fonio at Teranga, which she now makes at home. She adds parmesan and tomatoes to hers. You can buy the fonio and make it home as well, or order in from the restaurant Teranga.
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