In the Grandpa Family editorials we highlight creative, ambitious and exciting people who are close to us. This time we meet the three restaurant owners Aadel, Samir and Nidal Kersh. Growing up in Södermalm in Stockholm with driven parents who always had a foot in the industry, it seemed natural that all three of them would do the same.
We met the three of them outside Bitza in Hornstull on a sunny summer morning in August. Nadal and Aadel show up after spending an hour together in the gym, Samir drops in a little later. We got the honor of hanging out together for a whole day, which we are told is quite unique because the three brothers have many ”irons in the fire” to say the least. After Bitza, we continued for lunch at A bowl and Plates at Mariaberget. We managed to time the lunch hours and it quickly gets crowded with hungry guests. The three brothers seem to know each and every person who shows up. Last but not least, we head towards Nidal's Falafelbaren on Hornsgatan, the place that went from being a food-truck cycle to becoming a full-fledged restaurant.
Hi Samir, Aadel and Nidal!
You own several different restaurants, but today we visit A bowl & Plates, Bitza and Falafelbaren. Tell us about your restaurants.
Samir: Abowl & Plates is a modern restaurant that has grown from a small business to a full-fledged restaurant with a separate lunch and evening menu, great wines and cocktails. We are not tied to any cuisine but take a lot of inspiration from the Middle East and South America.
Aadel: Bitza is pizza in Arabic and here we bake traditional and modern dishes. It's pizza but still not.
Nidal: Falafelbaren started 10 years ago. From the beginning, we made falafel as street food from a bicycle. We wanted to change the rules around street food and used the bike as a protest. Later, the bike (or more precisely the fryer) moved into Hornsgatan where we ran a cafe that slowly turned into Falafelbaren.
What is so special about the Södermalm?
We grew up on Södermalm at Södra station with a father from Palestine and a mother from Finland. For us, Södermalm is home and a place close to our hearts.
What is your relationship with Grandpa?
Nidal: My relationship with Grandpa started with the choir. Grandpa had a boy's choir called Grandpa choir boys and we met once a week and rehearsed and sang at different places a few times a year. It was a great time that left me with many nice memories.
Aadel: Same for me! I lived in the same house as Grandpa when I was 19-20 years old and then I also joined the choir.
Samir: I was never in the choir, but I always buy Christmas presents from you.
How did all three of you end up in the restaurant business?
Samir: We were born into the industry. Our dad has owned several restaurants over the years and worked at Strömmingsvagnen in Slussen. For a while we also lived above dad's restaurant in Palestine.
Aadel: For me, it's mostly because it's fun and that I can express my identity through food.
Our parents always worked with food, so I’ve always seen food as a way to make a living. In our family, we often share ideas and all of us are driven by the idea that our dreams will come true.
Do you collaborate in any way or do you see each other as competitors?
We absolutely cooperate but have nothing to do with each other's places. We call each other every week and ask for someone to take over the restaurants (haha). No, jokes aside, we've never seen each other as competitors, and we try to help each other out where we can. All of us are ready to drop everything to help each other "when the shit hits the fan".
When you hang out, do you talk about anything other than food?
Haha, no! Well yes sometimes we talk about politics, training, business ideas, psychology, employees, whether you should close the restaurants over Christmas or not and if we should have a vacation.
How do you view sustainability in your industry? What is the way forward?
There is a lot that can be accommodated within sustainability: logistics, raw materials, wastage and working environment.
For us, it is important to create a sustainable workplace where people thrive and have fun. The restaurant industry is special in many ways, the stress that you learn to love, the meetings, the colleagues, the logistics and the daily problem solving. While welcoming people with a smile and going home with a smile because you laughed with your colleagues, made the guests happy with the food you made and the hospitality you gave. There are many answers that unfortunately cannot fit in this format, but we look forward to talking about it more when Grandpa starts a podcast :)
What are your plans and goals for the future?
Samir: The goal is for more guests to open their eyes to our incredible food and the restaurant to be fully booked six days a week :)
Aadel: I will try to take more time off from work
Nidal: My plan is to slow down and try to be more in the moment.