“We opened Lavash Cafe together in 2008 in the Clintonville neighborhood. This neighborhood has been so welcoming and has helped us realize the best way to share our culture with others is through their stomachs. Columbus is growing right before our eyes, and we wanted to stick around to help it grow into an even more amazing and diverse city,” said Jamal Latif, co-owner of Lavash Cafe.
“My family is from Somalia, so that’s where we’re originally from, but I was born and raised here, so I’m American first generation. Everything is inspired by my mom and her recipes from back home so this is definitely paying homage to mom. Hoyo’s Kitchen means mom’s kitchen, hoyo means mom in Somali. My mom is definitely in there with me [and] my siblings help out on the weekends when they get off work or school. It’s definitely a family business,” said AB Hassan, owner of Hoyo’s Kitchen.
“I like to cook. The first time I came here I had a lot of people that would come eat food [at] my house. [In] Africa you cook and sometimes invite people and people come sit down and eat together. People asked me ‘Why don’t you want to open a restaurant? Your food is good.’ I was a little bit scared because [a] restaurant is not easy. It’s something that takes all your time; everyday I’m here, but I tried and I opened it,” said Fatima Gueya, owner of Dabakh.
“I’m from Mexico, from Guadalajara, Jalisco. I’ve been here since I was 14 years old [and] I’ve been working in the restaurant industry since I was 14 years old. I had to work full time and go to school at the same time. The thing that made me open a restaurant is that my family always worked in food since I was a kid. My mom sold tacos outside the house in Mexico … that’s what inspired me to open a restaurant. My mom always pushed us to do better and she always made us work all the time. She said that we cannot just sit down and wait for opportunities, we had to make our own opportunities,” said Yessica Quezada, owner of Cazuela’s.
“[I came here] a long time ago, in 1984, way before you were born. I’m a Tibetan from Nepal. I decided to open the restaurant because I needed a job. I needed a job for myself and I cook a lot at home, so I found a spot for rent at the other location, now I have 16 people working for me. That was a year and a half ago,” said Phuntso Lama, owner of Momo Ghar.
This post has been updated to state that Hoyo’s Kitchen serves traditional Somali food. A previous version of the story stated that Hoyo’s Kitchen serves traditional Ethiopian food.