At Khadija Ali restaurant in the Turkish capital Ankara is a success in more ways that one. It promotes both dishes from the Horn of Africa and employs immigrants women like se.
The Ethiopian entrepreneur has settled in Ankara in 2018 and opened the Blue Nile, the cityc first and only ethiopian restaurant serving traditional food with all its spices and condiments, including injera, Ethiopian sour flatbread.
“My late husband has been of Turkish origin. It was one senior official in an Ethiopian company. This is where we met and married and had a good life,” she said. “We used to come to Turkey for vacation,” she said, adding that sadly, son husband get sick in Ethiopia and was diagnosed with Cancer. “This took him away from us last year,” she said.
Despite the impact of COVID-19[feminineonsa[feminineonsabusiness and the other obstacles she endured, Khadija never considered returning home. Instead, she’s determined to work hard and make him dream a reality when opening more branches of son restaurant in Turkey.
the restaurant located in the heart of Ankara, do not serve just Ethiopian cuisine but also Ethio-Turkish, Somali, Djiboutian, Sudanese and Eritrean dishes, which have many cultural similarities. “I cook Turkish dishes in an Ethiopian style and Turkish customers who come to love our food,” she explained.
the decision to launch the restaurant does not have just come from need To take care of his familybut also of Khadija’s desire to share the flavours of son East African heritage. Through the restaurant she hopes to pursue her passion for cooking and cooking by opening new branches all over Turkey. “I am the only one one who bakes an ethiopian sour flatbread in Turkey. And I plan to export it to Europe,” Khadija said. “I have dedicated my life and I will not stop until I realize my dream of have a international standard restaurant serving East African cuisine,” she said.
Khadija said she normally works 16 hours one day to keep restaurant up to standardadding that it restructures it as family business with the help of son younger brother and sister. “My brother and I cook together here. Both took hotel management course, worked at 5-star hotels in Ethiopia and had a restaurant there,” she said.
Noting that she feels a feeling of belonging in Ankara, Khadija said: “I have two daughters, one is 6 years old and the other is 8. I want my children to grow up here. Turkey is very nice and clean. I also became a Turkish citizen.”
Before her husbandit’s deathKhadija made him a promise that their children would be raised by son mother, she explained. “Now the children stay with their grand-mother, on can only be seen over vacations. My husband is family also helps me because I make a living here,” she says.
Many Ethiopians in the city admire the kindness of Khadija and support to others who has been financially affected by the pandemic. “She gave him restaurant shares to those who had run out of food and money during the pandemic,” said Mahir Mohammed, a student in Ankara who work with Khadija during the pandemic. “When we have personal contact problems such as money needs, she ready us some, even if she is not much richer than us … If we want to get a job, she tries to reach out connections and finding a job for us“Samraoui, one of Ethiopian residents in Ankara, told Anadolu Agency (AA) on Monday.
“Her restaurant is like a second home at us,” she added.
Shortly after opening it restaurantla first Case of COVID-19 has been reported in Turkey and that year Ankara has entered son first and the longest lock. The pandemic has unexpectedly affected her businessla mother of two said.
As an immigrant, getting acquainted with Turkish culture and learning about language are added challenges in already difficult circumstances. To make matters worse, she husband died five months after the launch of the restaurant which had already been negatively impacted by the pandemic-related lockdown. “There was times when I couldn’t pay the bills and got into debt during the pandemic. But I did not do it give up. I got a loan, paid off some of my debts and I continued to exploit my restaurant“, she explained. Although business is improving, the pandemic has had a significant impact financial impact, she added.
When she first opened the restaurant, it employed seven workers. Now she employs four since things slowed down down due to unhealed economic effects of COVID-19[FEMALE[FEMININE