Shawarma Joint serves halal, Arab cuisine

By Olivia Vamos, Contributing Writer

Newly-opened Shawarma Joint, located at 627 E. Green St., serves Middle Eastern cuisine in a counter-serve style similar to Chipotle and Subway. The menu has plentiful options, such as pitas, wraps and bowls. 

“We are the first people that came up with a shawarma place inside Champaign, an actual shawarma restaurant,” said co-owner Fadi Saleh. “There are some Middle Eastern restaurants that opened up here before and they sold shawarma, but our main selling is just shawarma, shawarma and falafel.”

Shawarma is a specialty at this restaurant, which Saleh said makes this new Green Street restaurant unique. Additionally, it is a place for people who are not familiar with Arab cuisine to try it.

“(Customers) have never tried it before and when they try it, they like it,” said co-owner Tariq Judeh. “That’s why they keep coming back.”

Judeh said he is glad that there is a restaurant on campus that serves the cuisine of his culture.

Nurul Husna Mohd Ali, junior in LAS, has visited the Shawarma Joint before and said she appreciates that the food is halal. 

“We don’t usually see halal restaurants over here that much and also it’s brand new to the campus,” Ali said. “It’s very convenient for us. The staff is very nice to us.”

She said that she feels comfortable at the restaurant because she can identify with the employees. She also likes the desserts served there, such as the baklava.

Saleh said that Shawarma Joint is enforcing mask wearing and social distancing.

Saleh said that opening up a business during the pandemic was not very challenging. There are some small difficulties like making sure customers walk in wearing a mask and keep distance between themselves and others, but Saleh is hopeful for the future.

“This thing (COVID-19) is not going to stay here forever,” Saleh said. “It’s going to stay for a little while and then it’s going to go away.”

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