Owner Hamza Deib discusses his family’s community-first approach to adapting to the COVID-19 crisis.
By Seamless author
Taheni Mediterranean Grill was born out of one family’s passion for sharing fresh, healthy food with their community. But when COVID-19 changed their business overnight, Hamza Deib and his siblings had to rethink their strategy in order to continue to grow and serve their community.
The family restaurant, focused on providing fresh food made in-house to customers at a fast pace, was in the process of expanding to a number of new locations when concerns arose about COVID-19. “That Wednesday [before stay at home orders were declared] we were doing very well, business was phenomenal,” Deib explained. “And just like that, it was like a light switch, that Thursday, business died.” When sitting down to adapt to a delivery-first business model, the restaurant made a number of decisions to help improve sales, including launching their Tahini At Home menu, which provides ingredients and instructions for people to craft restaurant-quality meals at home. And with the amount of work that goes into creating the perfect kunafah or falafel, these meal kits provide a simple way to buy larger quantities of food to prepare later. “People can enjoy our kunafah where they can follow simple instructions to be able to make them at home and enjoy them with their family without having to risk going outside,” Deib noted. “We have larger batches of hummus, all things that families can group around and do together now.”
Once the restaurant’s sales stabilized, the Deibs shifted their focus to helping essential workers and the less fortunate in their neighborhood. “We first started off with feeding first responders,” he explained. “Our local police department has always been family to us. Our local hospital has always been family to us. So we’re just giving back to them. We’re taking care of them.” After instituting the program with the first responders, Deib and his siblings noticed a greater need to serve those who were financially impacted by the crisis and had become food-insecure. In collaboration with the nonprofit organization Muslims Giving Back, Taheni has been donating upwards of a hundred meals to a community food drive every single night. “One of the most heartbreaking things ever is watching somebody in front of you to tell you that they don’t know where their next meal is coming from,” acknowledged Deib. The program was initially only active on Friday and Saturday nights, but one night, when Deib brought 200 meals and noticed the line for food was well over 300 people, he knew there was more they could do. “Whether you’re in a tough financial situation, whether your business is doing much worse, no matter what’s going on, you can provide a meal to them. This isn’t about money. This is about ‘do good and good will come.’”
Restaurants like Taheni Mediterranean Grill truly embody the resilient, giving spirit of New York. Order now and get a $10 Perk on your order of $30+. Not in NYC? Check out mediterranean deals near you.