FAIRFIELD TWP. — Mohammad and Maha Jarabah of Liberty Twp. are beaming with pride upon the realization of a dream and the expansion of Al-Zaytuna Grill, a family-owned and operated restaurant, which is now open in Bridgewater Falls.
“I’m proud of my parents. I think a lot of the time, people think of artists as one thing, someone that paints, or draws, but they are artists in the way they create their food and present it to other people, and everyone. You know, you eat with your eyes first, so you need to make it presentable. They know how to make it, so it looks beautiful and tastes good,” said Nasma Jarabah, 18, the couple’s oldest daughter.
The menu at Al-Zaytuna Grill, features Middle Eastern and Greek-inspired dishes like Falafel, Gyros, or a Tabbouleh salad, along with a mix of American cuisine, such as chicken tenders, wings and burgers. Homemade Hummus and Baklava are always popular with guests. Also, there are vegetarian and vegan options on the menu. Both fountain soft drinks and bottled drinks are available.
A kid’s menu offers $7 entrees for children with favorites like chicken tenders (3-pc.) and fries, or a cheeseburger and fries.
“We have been working very hard, and we’re so excited to share with everybody in this area. With the move to a new location, it’s a big step for us that will help us move forward. We have a nice place, and we have a dream, and we’re trying to follow that dream,” said Mohammad Jarabah.
When you have a goal, and you reach it, that’s something that’s really good, he said, a lot of people don’t make it that far.
“We have a supportive family. My wife, and our kids, we work together, and we’ve worked hard to get to this point,” Jarabah said.
For more than five years, the couple previously operated the Mediterranean restaurant out of a location at 8375 Colerain Avenue. Since last year, they’ve been working toward the expansion and finding a new location. They secured the space at Bridgewater Falls in January.
“We miss our customers there. It was hard to move. We had a wonderful five years, but we have wanted to expand the business for several years, and it was nice to find a location that’s closer to home,” said Maha Jarabah.
She continued, “We are excited about making new friends with a little bit of tears. I think business is not just money, business is family and friends. It’s about taking care of one another and loving each other. We are looking forward to seeing more people enjoying our food.”
Mohammad and Maha originally met in Beitin, a village in Palestine. The family lived in the Manassas, Virginia area for about 13 years before moving to Ohio.
“As soon as we landed, my husband said, ‘You know what, I think I’m going to open a restaurant here. He has a very good way of cooking food. He loves to cook what he likes to eat, and he enjoys making that for other people,” Maha said, “We do it perfectly each time from scratch. So, it’s very fresh and yummy.”
Mohammad and Maha reside in Liberty Twp. with their six children — four daughters and two sons — who range in age from 12 to 18. The family is actively involved at the Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati in West Chester.
When the children were younger, Mohammad and Maha liked to host dinner parties. Later, Mohammad began selling Falafel sandwiches to his friends and neighbors at the mosque. Even in those early years, they had so much excitement that they would wake up early to prepare the food.
“It’s a ‘two-to-tango’ thing. You need to have the customers in the front waiting, excitedly looking at the menu, exploring all of their options, and appreciating all the hard work that they’ve been putting in,” Nasma said, “So, when you see the excitement of customers paired with the deliciousness of our food, it just makes a perfect equation.”
The Al-Zaytuna Grill experience
When you walk into Al-Zaytuna Grill’s front foyer, you’ll find a wooden bench and a welcome sign, surrounded by homey décor. Soon after arrival, you will be greeted with a smile, a hello, and if you shake Mr. Jarabah’s hand, you just might be blessed with a piece of candy.
Lined with tables chairs, the dining room is filled with natural lighting. The dining room seats about 32 guests and there is additional patio seating outside that has room for 16 guests. Patrons will also hear Middle Eastern music playing in the background, which quickly sets the tone for the dining experience.
“It’s important to spread our heritage and our culture. Palestinian culture is beautiful and it’s really nice to spread it to the whole world,” Maha said.
Carter Smith, 18, of Trenton, and Gabriella Rugg, 17, visited the restaurant yesterday for lunch, prior to the location’s official opening. After shopping at Best Buy,. Smith ordered a Gyro with Fries and Rugg had a Chicken Kabob Platter. They also enjoyed homemade Baklava for dessert.
“I love Mediterranean food. We were looking for somewhere to have lunch, and I thought we would try it. The flavors are authentic. and the lamb was tender. It was better than the competition,” said Smith.
Rugg added, “The food looked fantastic, and it was nicely presented. I could tell it was flavorful, even before I tasted it,” added Rugg.
Smith said they were happy with the experience and would come back.
“It feels alive. Everyone is smiling, friendly, and they checked on us several times. You can tell they are super-excited to be here,” he said.
HOW TO GO
Where: Al-Zaytuna Grill, 3425 Princeton Road, Ste. 119 at Bridgewater Falls, Fairfield Twp.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 22 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday
More: (513) 737-2000; alzaytunagrill.com