Business has been booming at Mohamed Ali’s and owner Ali Hussain Abu Alhaijaa feels it’s the right time to expand and grow the business.

“I have always said I want to have a Mohamed Ali’s empire, it’s good to dream,” Alhaijaa joked.

Alhaijaais partnering with his brother-in-law, Ali Aldawood who is financing the second location of the popular Middle Eastern restaurant.

The owners are sprucing up the new site, 302 Water Street, formerly Junk on Water, in preparation for the opening and are aiming to be up and running by early March.

The new spot’s menu will stick pretty closely to Duckworth Street’s menu. Although there may be a few small adjustments, customers can expect the same Shawarma, Kebabs, and Falafel that have made Mohamed Ali’s a St. John’s favourite.

In order to welcome late night revelers, the Water Street location will be open until three or four in the morning from Thursday to Sunday. As many will remember, Mohammed Ali’s began as an after hours take-out run out of The Sprout’s kitchen.

The new restaurant means fresh and fast falafel will once again be available just a few stumbling paces from George Street!

Getting closer to George Street means the brothers can serve drinkers who don’t want to brave the icy sidewalks between the bars and the Duckworth Street location throughout the winter.

However, the main reason for partnering and opening a second restaurant is to bring more of Alhaijaa’s family together in Newfoundland. “I need to bring my family here and opening a business is the right way to do it,” Alhaijaa said.

Alhaijaa arrived in Newfoundland after leaving a refugee camp in 2006; he and his family were spread across the United States and Sweden. His sister and her husband have been living in Philadelphia, where they have built a comfortable life, but Alhaijaa is eager to have his family join him in Newfoundland.

“The USA is tough, it’s not like here, here is very easy going, the people are kind,” Alhaijaa said.

With many local businesses closing and more chains moving into the downtown core, it’s exciting to see Mohamed Ali’s flourishing in spite of the province’s economic hardship and provincial government’s austerity program.

This story of family reunification made possible by the expansion of a thriving independent business is especially heartening given the political climate in the United States.