We are pleased to meet you.
Kia ora and Salaam Aleikum.
We are brothers Yousef and Ali, and Yousef’s wife Hajar, and we are the team behind Eden restuarant. Originally from Iran, we have lived in Wellington for over ten years.
A human rights activist in Iran, Yousef was under a lot of pressure from his government. He managed to escape, and he and Hajar made their way to Indonesia, where they were accpeted under refugee status and waited to find out where they would be able to live. While they were there, they started a pita bread business for other people from our part of the world who were missing the taste of home.
Yousef and Hajar finally heard they were able to join Ali in New Zealand, through the family reunification visa. Yousef says ‘It was some of the best news I had ever heard. We had heard about New Zealand – that is was a peaceful country, with kind people.’.
Family is very important in Iranian culture, and Ali was alone in Wellington. Having family arrive was a great joy to him, and together they began thier journey of learning more about their new home – New Zealand people, culture – and weather!
Eden restaurant was born of a desire to share Iranian cuisine with Wellington. Food is central in our community – every gathering starts with it. It’s one of the elements that brings us together. We hope it can create a similar vibe in our New Zealand home.
Because of our networks, Eden employs primarily refugee background staff. Ali says ‘Despite coming here and starting from scratch – we refugees bring life experiences and skills. We might be new in our new society, but we can produce value.’
You may be wondering – why did we choose the name ‘Eden’? Eden is a central concept between the main Abrahamic faiths – Judaism, Christianity and Islam. It’s a place that is famous for prosperity, crops and food. So for us, it signifies abundance of food and the togetherness of people. We don’t just make Middle Eastern cuisine, but Middle Eastern cuisine with a universal dimension.
So come in, say Kia ora or Salaam Aleikum, and see what we are all about!