CORVALLIS, Ore – A family who fled the war zone in Syria is now bringing an international taste to the Corvallis community.
In September, KEZI 9 News first spoke with the father of the family, who wishes to remain nameless, when he and his family were staying in a homeless shelter.
“I had no choice,” he said about leaving his country. “Either stay there and watch my kids being shot – like about 40 percent – 40 percent plus of my friends aren’t there anymore.”
In February, six months after coming to the United States with nothing, the family opened Café Flamingo (Flame-N-Go) Internationale, a Middle Eastern and Mediterranean restaurant in downtown Corvallis.
The restaurant features Greek, Moroccan, Turkish, and other Middle Eastern dishes including couscous, pitas, rice dishes, kabobs, tandoori chicken and lamb dishes, and falafel.
“I’m working hard and hoping that I can fulfill the dream of paying off the loans,” said the owner. “By the time I looked for a job in my career, it might have taken forever to find something to sustain the family. I don’t want to live in a homeless shelter for the rest of my life and I wanted to get the family going.”
Opening the restaurant does not mean there are not any struggles. The father of the family, a dual Syrian-American citizen and an industrial engineer from OSU, says he could not find a job in his line of work.
“So I had to find something,” he said. “I have a passion for food from my experience, so I wanted to do something so I can sustain my family. And not to be relying on any public assistance.”
He turned to cooking, and with every dish comes a way of healing from leaving an entire life behind in Syria.
“I’m working 14 hour days,” he said. “I go home wiped out. So I did erase a little bit of the pain in my head – the memories.”
The store is open seven days a week from 8 am – 8 pm at 435 SW Madison Ave., between Starbucks and the City Hall.