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Meet Mohammad Altawaha of Abu Omar Halal

Today we’d like to introduce you to Mohammad Altawaha.

Hi Mohammad, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
I immigrated to the United States in 2008 to pursue a master’s degree in Houston, Texas. While in school, I worked in various restaurants across the city, where I rediscovered my lifelong passion for cooking. After a few years spent refining my cooking skills and learning the business side of restaurant ownership, I decided to open my own truck and fill a void I felt was present in my community’s food scene.

I am originally from a small town in Jordan and wanted to bring the same foods that I grew up with to my new home in America. In 2011 that dream was realized with the opening of my first truck in Houston, Abu Omar Taco, that initially served a mixture of Mexican and Mediterranean dishes that adhered to halal food practices.

After realizing the overwhelming demand for our specialty, chicken shawarma, I decided to rebrand and shifted the menu focus to serve entirely Mediterranean classics. With the new focus and menu offerings, we decided to change the business name to Abu Omar Halal.

Ten years, a marriage, and two kids later, I have expanded into over twenty locations throughout the Southern United States, including two brick and mortar locations in the DFW area.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Life is never a smooth road! There are always challenges to overcome, but that’s what makes the end result worth it. My first food truck was stolen and another overturned on the freeway and was smashed to pieces. You name it, it’s happened to us. One of the keys to success is persistence though. A lot of people would have thrown the towel in a long time ago, but I just keep going.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about Abu Omar Halal?
Abu Omar Halal is a reflection of my love of cooking. All of the recipes are based around what I grew up eating in Jordan & have inspired the brand Abu Omar Halal. Our menu provides a variety of offerings from shawarma, gyros, rice bowls, kibbe, baklava & more.

Our most popular item is our shawarma, which is a very common street food in the Middle East, and I wanted to bring this taste of home with me to Texas.

The shawarma dish starts with a large tortilla that comes with a base of your choice of chicken, beef or falafel. Then we add long cucumber pickles and top it with our signature garlic sauce. Finally, we wrap it up, almost like a burrito, and grill it on a panini press. The end result is a warm & savory sandwich that is both filling & practical. It can be eaten on the go, or enjoyed in any of our brick-and-mortar restaurants.

My dream is to share Abu Omar Halal’s cuisine with as many people as I can. In the last year, we have expanded outside of Texas, opening locations across the Southern United States, and have plans to continue expanding.

Where we are in life is often partly because of others. Who/what else deserves credit for how your story turned out?
Coming to a new country and taking the leap of starting a business is a difficult task. One of which, many would not choose. However, I have an amazing support system between my loving wife, two beautiful kids, family, employees & friends. Without their support, help & understanding I could never have achieved as much as I have.

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