Bars and booze may be the first words that come to mind when Bradley students think about Farmington Road, but that area of town has much more to offer than just a tipsy night out.
Jerusalem Restaurant, located at 2027 W. Farmington Rd., opened five months ago and serves authentic Mediterranean food, such as falafel, baba ghanoush and baklava.
Co-owner Abdalraziq Foqahaa moved to Peoria after working as a chef in Jerusalem for 15 years.
“This has been a dream for [Foqahaa],” Lena Aydah, co-owner and Foqahaa’s wife, said. “He has been wanting to do this for so long.”
Aydah said despite her and her husband living in Peoria for 10 years before searching for a venue, they didn’t know about the Farmington Road area until looking to open the restaurant.
“I never knew this area existed, [and] I thought it wasn’t a really good neighborhood in the beginning,” Aydah said. “But then, after we opened, I looked at the park, and I looked at Bradley, and I was like, ‘Oh, this is good.'”
According to Aydah, being near to the Bradley community has helped the restaurant because students and teachers visit often, but campus is not its main source of business.
“A lot of people come in from just passing by, or they say, ‘Our friend told us about you,'” Aydah said.
Also, Aydah said Jerusalem Restaurant doesn’t experience much competition.
“We hear there’s a lot of Mediterranean places around, but our customers will tell us, ‘Oh, your prices are lower than this place,’ or, ‘Your food is almost like this place but … better,'” she said.
Aydah said Foqahaa uses the same recipes he cooked with in Jerusalem, but they tried to fill the menu with recognizable Middle Eastern items (as well as hot wings, chicken strips and nuggets).
“[When deciding on the menu], we looked at what stuff [Foqahaa] knows how to do and then what is famous Mediterranean food,” Aydah said. “Apparently, everyone knows what hummus is and what falafel is.”
Looking to the future, Aydah said her and Foqahaa are building an expansion to their restaurant, which currently only features a wraparound counter, to include tables to fit at least 30 people.