HONOLULU (KHON2) — Moha Arekat and Suzen Alkatib are taking a leap of faith with their Middle Eastern restaurant Habibi Tasty which opened in June. The married couple moved from Jordan to Hawaii where they established their family business as a food truck in Waikiki in 2018.

After three years, they are now at 2346 South King St. serving lamb kabob, chicken and other meats with homemade appetizers like hummus and falafel. They even built their own tables and did most of the construction. Alkatib said the path to opening doors hasn’t been an easy one.

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“We were shut for almost a year as we started our location in Waikiki in February, then COVID started and lockdown in March,” said Alkatib. “Went back to business in September 2020 with no tourists until July 2021, as our lease ended, and started looking for our own place. We never gave up our dream and passion.”

(Courtesy: Habibi Tasty)

According to Alkatib, they spent everything they had on their restaurant and almost gave up until they were given a Small Business Administration (SBA) loan.

“Honestly it was a leap of faith and a bold move,” said Alkatib. “We saw a chance and did it towards our dream, and the top reason is the continuous customer requests for our food and the phone calls that never stopped.” 

(Courtesy: Habibi Tasty)

Alkatib added that their restaurant is just a first step toward achieving their ultimate goal: having a grocery store and bakery to serve the local market and introduce their delicious handmade food.

While there are some advantages to having a restaurant, like cooking out of a kitchen and providing more seating for customers, Alkatib said there are higher costs to deal with as a startup. Still, she’s thankful to their customers who made it possible for them to survive the pandemic and pursue their dream.

Habibi Tasty is open Wednesday through Sunday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Habibi in Arabic means “my love” — how Arekat and Alkatib describe cooking and serving Middle Eastern traditional food.

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There’s currently no website, but you can check them out on Yelp, Instagram and Facebook.