Nawal Hamd, owner of The Falafel Hut, possesses an obvious passion for Lebanese Cuisine, evident by the purposeful enthusiasm that she brings to each meal that she prepares at her brightly lit and easygoing eatery.
Growing up in a Lebanese household, Nawal learned from her Mother and Grandmother the special techniques that come into play when making the delicious, authentic dishes that she brought from the country of Lebanon.
“This is something that came natural to me, even as a little girl,” relates Nawal. “My family opened a restaurant on Genesee street right over the bridge at the old Kentucky Fried Kitchen when I was very young. My Grandmother was always cooking and when my Dad said he wanted to open a restaurant for himself, I started learning how to cook when I was maybe five or six years-old. He wanted us to learn about the Lebanese culture, so in many ways my experience in the kitchen carefully nurtured.”
Nawal had a dream of recreating these dishes in a restaurant of her own and achieved this dream by opening up Falafel Hut at the SVRC Marketplace in Downtown Saginaw at 203. S. Washington back in June of last year.
With a menu that is both nutritious and appealing, some of the popular items that The Falafel Hut features include Chicken Shawarma, which consists of marinated layers of chicken rolled, topped with garlic paste in pita bread, then toasted; Beef/Lamb Shawarma, comprised of marinated layers of beef and lamb, topped with tahini sauce rolled in pita bread, then toasted; Falafel Fries made of ground chickpeas and fava beans, mixed with vegetables and topped with tahini sauce and vegetables on a bed of golden fries, Hummus with Pita Chips, Fattoush Salad, and Baklava.
When asked what she feels distinguishes her eatery from other Mediterranean restaurants, Nawal references the origins of her recipes. “There are quite a few Middle Eastern restaurants around town, but each of them originate from different regions. Every town has different spices in their recipes, so a Shawarma from Jordan will taste different than one from Lebanon. We use certain techniques that make it different. No falafel is the same - some are heavy and some are not.”
“Middle Eastern cooking can get quite involved,” continues Nawal, “so because I do not heave a sit-down restaurant here at the Marketplace, I decided to focus on items that are tasty, nutritious, and quicker to turn around. It takes a lot of time to make this food properly, so much of my mornings are spent doing prep-work. Because everybody has different tastes, I marinate and set my chicken a certain way. I realize my clientele likes it spiced so it’s not too hot and not too bland.”
Nawal says the most popular items selected by her customers are the vegetable and falafel sandwiches. “People love my chicken and my hummus is famous as well,” she states with pride. “Again, there are a lot of variations to the way hummus is made and seasoned. The baklava is also popular and while I started making my own, the process of making baklava is so time consuming that now I order it fresh from some people in Detroit that specialize in it.”
“Food is a challenging business to be in,” concludes Nawal. “This is something you don’t realize until you get into the business. You don’t want to have a lot of waste and you want to make sure your customers are happy and employees on top of things. Teamwork is very important and there’s a lot to grab onto. This experience has been a learning process, but I’ve developed a wonderful clientele and many regular customers dedicated to coming back for more, so I couldn’t be happier.”
The Falafel Hut also will cater to hospitals and different businesses and Nawal will offer a 10% Discount on any larger orders to new customers. Open Monday & Wednesday from 10 am to 6 pm; Friday from 10 am - 7 pm; and Saturday from 10 am - 5 pm, you can phone The Falafel Hut at 989.392.5397.
16th November, 2023