Safa Jneidi and Iyad Alati with their new food cart (Paul Rowley/Staff Photo).

Safa Jneidi and Iyad Alati with their new food cart (Paul Rowley/Staff Photo).

Islander rolls out Syrian food cart

“If the Vashon community supported this business, it would be great.”

Islander Iyad Alati is one step closer to starting the business of his dreams in the United States with his family. He launched a new catering service and food cart last month in locations throughout town, offering a variety of Syrian food.

Iad’s Syrian Grill will be outside Vashon Village and the Chamber of Commerce from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays and Thursdays as well as at the Farmers Market on Saturdays.

His wife, Safa Jneidi, said that someday they want to purchase and operate a Middle Eastern food truck.

“But it’s so expensive, so we can’t do it right now; maybe in the future,” she said, noting that the food cart was a serious investment of time and money for the family. It was the result of a months-long search to find one that best suited their needs. The county was slow to issue the necessary permits they need to operate it, she said, but now they are able to share Alati’s cooking with islanders.

On the menu last week was grilled kofta, which tastes like American sausage, an Eaj vegan meal with vegetable-stuffed dolmas and hummus, eggplant baba ganoush and baklava from a traditional family recipe. Cash, debit and credit cards are accepted.

Alati and Jneidi moved to Vashon in 2017 after immigrating to the United States. Together, the couple envisions opening their own clothing store and restaurant called the Alati Souq, inspired by the generations of Alati’s family who served customers in a textile and clothing shop in the La Medina Souq marketplace in Aleppo, Syria, before it was reduced to rubble during the war.

In December, they hosted a pop-up show called the Alati Souq, where islanders sampled Alati’s food and purchased clothing such as scarves, sweaters, jackets and hats Jneidi has collected from Turkey. She continues to dress clients by appointment in her studio.

“Our idea [was] for people to know our food. It was to bring some clothes and do an event and invite some people and do [the pop up],” said Jnedi.

Waleed Zein El-Dien, a friend of the family, said Alati and Jneidi are bringing something special to the island with their dream.

“If the Vashon community supported this business, it would be great,” he said. “This is adding a new thing and a new life and a new family to the island.”

To schedule an appointment with Jneidi, call 206-403-0687 or email safajne@gmail.com. For event catering information, call 206-472-9506.

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