Syrian refugee opens middle eastern restaurant in Paterson

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ByLucy Yang via WABC logo
Wednesday, January 12, 2022
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Mohammad Hlal is the owner of Reem Al Sham, where customers lined up just two days after the middle eastern restaurant opened up in Paterson.

PATERSON, New Jersey (WABC) -- After escaping from his native Syria, a man with a passion for cooking, is now serving something even more profound at his restaurant in New Jersey.

There was a busy rhythm in the kitchen Tuesday night ... shaving the meat and shaking the fries.

Just two days after the opening of a middle eastern restaurant in Paterson, New Jersey, happy customers were lining up.

Mohammad Hlal is the owner of Reem Al Sham, which means gazelle of the Middle East.

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His journey began more than 5,000 miles away when he had to flee the violence in his beloved homeland of Syria.

He escaped to Jordan with his wife and four children then arrived in the states as a refugee.

Hlal says what he misses most about Syria is his family.

"My family. My father. My brother. My friends. I lose a lot of friends there. Yes," he said.

Hlal worried about possible anti-Muslim sentiments here, but says his American neighbors showed them nothing but kindness and friendship.

"They look me to the laundry. Show me how to use this. Use the dryer. How I get bus," Hlal said.

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He was a cook in Syria and decided to do what he does best - feed people.

He ran a food truck for many years before saving enough to open his own taste of home.

"Perfect. The best," customer Nadre Allababnah said about the food.

"They say amazing food and we thank you. We see the quality is highest," Hlal said.

The next step for this grateful immigrant ... U.S. citizenship.


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