Update: Feb. 23, 2017 6:00 p.m.
Jamil Kadoura is just as anxious to open the Mediterranean Deli, Bakery and Catering in Park Place as the rest of the Elon University community is to welcome it. The deli and bakery is officially set to open Wednesday, Feb. 28, according to Kadoura.
“I’m really excited,” said Kadoura, the owner of Mediterranean Deli. “I want this to be over with. It’s been like, a year and a half! We wanted to do it the right way. It’s very important to bring it in not too fast and not make mistakes.”
The Mediterranean Deli has been a tease for Elon students since its announcement last spring.
Kadoura said he’s excited to bring Middle Eastern culture and homemade dishes to Elon.
“Everything is made here, one hundred percent,” Kadoura said. “When I come here and I make my own food, I celebrate my culture everyday.”
A Jerusalem native, Kadoura says Mediterranean food is a part of a lifelong diet. The homemade pitas, gyros, Turkish candies and everything else on the menu are the result of more than 30 years in Mediterranean cooking.
“Our parents talked to us when we were kids about the Mediterranean diet, but we didn’t believe them,” Kadoura reflects. “Now there’s study after study that validates what our parents told us. My mom was right, I should’ve eaten my lentils more!”
Kadoura’s mom does not get to see this new location open in action. She died a little more than a year ago, but Kadoura said he knows she’d be proud of this expansion of the business.
Kadoura learned about cooking from his mom, and learned about business from the bottom up. He started as a dishwasher and worked his way up through hotel and restaurant management. He said his background sets his restaurant apart from the rest.
“This is not a deli, this is an operation,” Kadoura said. “When you see the food in the deli cases the first day we’re open, that’s when you’ll know what kind of operation we are.”
The opening has been pushed back several times since the restaurant was announced to be filling the space in the first floor of Park Place. Just upstairs, there were severe mold and mildew issues this past fall. Kadoura said this did not cause any holdups in the construction process.
ENN spoke with several customers from the Chapel Hill, N.C., location who said they go to the restaurant and market at least once a week. Some favorite items on the menu are the lamb fatayer, falafel pita, roasted cauliflower and cucumber salad.
Even an Elon alum was at the Chapel Hill location, and said he was very jealous the restaurant is coming to Elon.
"I'm so upset this wasn't at Elon when I was a student," said Sam Shantry, class of '17.
Mediterranean Deli has changed the menu over the years to meet consumer wants and needs, even though Kadoura says consistency is “the foundation of restaurants.” He is meeting these needs, he said, by adding more gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options to the menu. He also added açaí bowls, which he said he believes will be a huge hit on Elon’s campus.
“This university, I really fell in love with it and I feel that we’re gonna do well here,” he said.