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Syrian woman opening restaurant in Corner Brook

After almost two years of selling Syrian and Middle Eastern food at the Wonderful Fine Market in Corner Brook, Maysaa Al-Omor is getting set to open her own restaurant.
After almost two years of selling Syrian and Middle Eastern food at the Wonderful Fine Market in Corner Brook, Maysaa Al-Omor is getting set to open her own restaurant. - Diane Crocker

Maysaa Al-Omor came to Corner Brook for her children and for their future.

Now that the family has settled into their new life she’s concentrating on her own future as a new restaurant owner.

Al-Omor and her husband, Khaled Al-Homsi, are from Daraa, Syria. The civil war there meant they had to leave their home and relocate to Lebanon as refugees.

With the help of the Corner Brook Refugee Support Group they were able to leave that life behind and come to Canada with their three children — sons Waleed, 13, and Mohammad, 4, and daughter, Samaher, 9.

It was a big decision to make, but Al-Omor said “I heard in Canada that this country is very good for the people.”

The family arrived on Nov. 15, 2016.

Maysaa Al-Omor, second from left, and her family have made a life in Corner Brook since relocating here as Syrian refugees in 2016. She's about to open her own restaurant with her husband Khaled Al-Homsi. She's seen here with their three children, Samaher, left, Mohammad and Waleed.
Maysaa Al-Omor, second from left, and her family have made a life in Corner Brook since relocating here as Syrian refugees in 2016. She's about to open her own restaurant with her husband Khaled Al-Homsi. She's seen here with their three children, Samaher, left, Mohammad and Waleed.

The first year was hard as the children got settled in school and the family learned English, but now Al-Omor says the move was good for her family.

“I love Corner Brook. I’m staying here all my life.”

Shortly after arriving the family invited the support group to their home and Al-Omor cooked for them.

The food was a hit and it was suggested that she sell her foods at the Wonderful Fine Market at the Royal Canadian Legion.

She said she was only here 20 days when she went to the market. “Just to try.”

The food, including her hummus, was a hit and she was invited to return to the market and has been there ever since.

Cooking is something she has loved to do since was young, first learning from her mother and later from her mother-in-law.

“When I cook, I’m feeling good,” she said.

Now she’ll be sharing her foods with more people when her restaurant Jasmine Syrian and Middle Eastern Food opens in the CIBC Building at 9 Main St.

“That’s my dream,” she said of opening the restaurant.

It’s a venture she’s taking on with her husband, who works as a car detailer with Western Toyota. She said he’ll be there to help her out when he’s not working and Waleed, who helps his mother with translation during the interview, will be there too.

Waleed shares his mother’s love of cooking and said he enjoys watching her create.

“I like to watch her when she puts the spices on the food and doing everything in the kitchen,” he said.

Al-Omor learned the restaurant space was available while studying at the Association for New Canadians office in the CIBC Building.

She took a look at the space, liked it and made contact with the building’s owner about renting it.

The restaurant will open on Nov. 3 and will cater mostly to take-out and delivery, though there are a few tables at the location for anyone who might want to eat there.

The menu will include kabbsa, falafel, chicken shawarma, hummus, kobbeh and taboleh and desserts of sesame seed cookies and coconut fingers.

For the opening weekend the restaurant will be open form 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Nov. 3 and from noon to 10 p.m. on Nov. 4. The regular hours have yet to be decided, but will be posted on the restaurant’s Facebook page and website.

For the opening, Al-Omor will be donating half the profits from the first two days to the Western Regional Hospital Foundation.

“I like to help,” said Al-Omor of her reason for doing so.

Conor Curtis is part of the support group that brought the family to the city.

“It’s great to see them to continue to really integrate and do well,” he said. “And they’ve put so much work and effort into this place and getting it up and running.
“Just to see them succeed here is really good.”

Al-Omor knows opening the restaurant would not be possible in Lebanon.

“I can do the business. I can do all things here,” she said, and that includes getting her driver’s licence.

“I’m feeling so happy about this.”

All she wants is for people to be happy with her food and to like it.

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