New Syrian restaurant opens in Shepparton

By James Bennett

It’s an emotional story of a journey from war-torn Aleppo to opening his own Syrian restaurant as a refugee in the heart of Shepparton.

Bakri Tarsha serves food from the heart at his High St shopfront Nedal’s Kebabs. Yesterday the eatery celebrated its official opening and the birthday of its namesake.

‘‘Nedal means ‘struggle’ in my language and that’s the name of my son,’’ he said.

‘‘My family escaped war and poverty, came to Australia leaving my family behind to fit in Shepparton.

‘‘While I was opening the restaurant my wife, Noura, was pregnant with my son.

‘‘Which is why we named both the restaurant and son Nedal’s, so today is his birthday which is why the opening is today,’’ Mr Tarsha said.

The restaurant has been open for little more than a year and the business hasn’t been easy.

Mr Tarsha admitted he had struggled to turn a profit but he was not concerned at the moment.

‘‘It’s about giving back to the community,’’ he said.

‘‘When I came here I realised there’s no Syrian restaurant in Shepparton.

‘‘When I used to live in Syria, I had 10 years’ experience and I also worked in Lebanon for four years cooking Syrian food.

‘‘We really did struggle very early because we didn’t have a lot of publicity and customers so it was difficult to adapt as a refugee while learning English and how businesses work.

‘‘I’m very proud to be a refugee and come to Australia but I have big ambitions and want this place to be bigger within the community.’’

His wife Noura Sultan said they had adapted well into the Shepparton community.

‘‘When we came here, we didn’t know anything but we really like the place and even though we’re not making much of a profit we just want to give back and show us refugees can do something and create something,’’ she said.

Syrian food is similar to Lebanese and Turkish cuisines and Nedal’s Kebabs focuses on not using processed meat.

‘‘For Syrians something we’re good at is making everything from scratch,’’ Mr Tarsha said.

‘‘My specialty, shawarma, is loved by everyone!’’