Lively Mediterranean music and the smell of falafel fill Shawarma Grill, a restaurant located within walking distance of campus.
Fadi Atrash, manager at Shawarma Grill, said he has been able to build a steady customer base since opening the restaurant nearly a year ago.
“We have a lot of local customers that come not quite every day, but every other day,” Atrash said. “We’ve been hearing positive comments from our customers [telling us] we have good food.”
One of the restaurant’s best-selling menu items is its hummus, which is traditionally eaten for breakfast.
“You can get it any time,” Atrash said. “It’s a special dish for any day, but usually in the morning it’s the best.”
Atrash said his menu offerings are wide and he has something for every customer, including a variety of vegetarian options.
“Our shawarma, hummus and falafel are our best sellers,” Atrash said. “We have the combination [entrée], which is mixed meat with chicken and shish-kabob; it’s very popular right now.”
According to Atrash, he focuses on the quality of the food to appeal to the Peoria community.
“You need time to make sure the people know what you’re doing and how well you’re making food,” Atrash said. “After you make good food, it will sell itself, and customers will come.”
All of the meat cooked at Shawarma Grill is considered “halal,” according to Atrash, a form of cooking where only permissible ingredients in accordance with Islamic law are used. For instance, halal cooking excludes alcohol and broth. Halal is also a hand-sliced method that is considered fresher compared to traditional methods.
Atrash said some students who have dined at Shawarma in the past few weeks have never tried Mediterranean food.
“We have some students that have been coming lately, and they’ve all been pleasantly surprised [by the food],” he said.
While Shawarma has some regular customers, Atrash said he is constantly reaching out to more people.
“We have a new restaurant with a new menu and items … and we’re trying to attract new customers to our restaurant,” Atrash said.
Shawarma Grill offers $5 discounts for all entrée items to Bradley students and is open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.