Jamil Kadoura, owner of Mediterranean Deli, expects the restaurant to open the first week of March. He said construction for the new location in the Town of Elon  finished, and that they received their certificate of occupancy from the health department on Feb. 6.

“I’m excited,” Kadoura said. “I have employees with lots of experience in Chapel Hill ready to send to Elon.”

The original Mediterranean Deli was located beneath Park Place. When it closed in fall 2022, members of the Elon community were disappointed by the facility’s closure

Kadoura said the establishment was originally built with the thought that it would be as busy as their location at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. But due to Elon’s smaller size, they received fewer customers than expected. Over time, Kadoura found that the establishment could not keep up with the expenses for such a large location.

“The location wasn’t as good,” Kadoura said. “And it turned out Elon is a smaller university so we didn’t need that huge of a place at Elon because of the high expenses.”

However, despite closing, Mediterranean Deli remained in communication with the university about remaining at Elon. Kadoura said he was in communication with Janet Williams, chair of finance for Elon, and was offered to move Mediterranean Deli closer to campus. Now, Mediterranean Deli will replace the Acorn Coffee Shop, which moved to Belk Library.

Janet Williams was unavailable for Elon News Network’s request for comment.

But on July 22, 2023, there was a fire at the Mediterranean Deli location on Chapel Hill. Kadoura said that the fire started due to a maintenance accident on the roof of the Chapel Hill location. He also said the fire fell to the ground floor and spread — forcing Kadoura to move the catering business to a new location.

“Usually fires in restaurants start in the kitchen,” Kadoura said. “In our case, it didn’t.”

After the fire, Kadoura chose to prioritize the repair of the Chapel Hill location, and pushed back the opening of the Elon location.

Members of the Elon community were happy to hear that Mediterranean Deli would be returning to Elon. Shereen Elgamal, lecturer in Arabic in the department of world languages and cultures, was overjoyed when she heard about Mediterranean Deli reopening.

“I texted all of my students, including the ones who graduated already. Everybody was very excited,” Elgamal said. “We look forward to going back, having a cup of coffee and a piece of Maqluba or something.”

Betsy Polk, director of Jewish life at Elon, also said she is excited to eat its food again. Polk said she appreciated how the establishment is in a convenient location on N. Williamson Ave, in downtown Elon, and is excited to enlist its catering services once more.

“I’m excited for the falafel salad, that’s top on my list,” Polk said. “And also having the opportunity to get to work with them again. We’ve all missed them.”

After Mediterranean Deli closed, people who used the establishment for catering, such as Elgamal, had to look toward other places, such as Ralegh, Chapel Hill or Durham. However, keeping the food warm and fresh during transportation proved to be  a challenge for Elgamal. She said because Mediterranean Deli is reopening, it will be easier to provide authentic food for future events.

“There is an element of convenience that I am really grateful for,” Elgamal said. “If we are going to have a dinner or end of semester event, it is served 10 minutes max. So I look forward to this convenience.”

David Haught, senior director for planning, design and construction management at Elon, wrote in an email to Elon News Network that the project management team worked with Kadoura to design the new location and ensure that the building’s operating systems meet their needs.

The new Mediterranean Deli will be 2,000 square feet — compared to its previous location of 6,300 square feet — and was upgraded with new equipment to convert it from a coffee shop into a kitchen. In addition to the new utilities and interior, Haught wrote that the location of Mediterranean Deli would be one of its greatest assets.

“Its proximity as access to campus, along with its unique menu offerings will have a positive impact on the Elon community,” Haught wrote.

Kadoura is excited to have Mediterranean Deli with Elon. He said he cannot wait to start moving employees to the new location. 

“We’re going to be at Elon for a long, long time,” Kadoura said.