My biggest challenge when we 1st opened 12 several years in the past was that people today did not know considerably about Lebanese food stuff or even what a Shawarma is.
Twelve many years back this thirty day period Roger Gergi and his wife Yasmin opened the doorways to North Bay’s only Lebanese restaurant.
Originally from Lebanon, Canada has been residence to Gergi for around 35 years.
The few took a gamble that the Cedar Tree Lebanese Restaurant would capture on.
“One of the major explanations we arrived here was due to the fact that was one particular of the points that were being missing in this article in North Bay. There really wasn’t that a lot difference in meals. We experienced Thai, we experienced Chinese and then we experienced your common outlets right here. This being my lifestyle from the place I’m from. I’ve been in the cafe organization my total lifetime, so I figured we had been heading to give it a go and preserve our fingers crossed,”Gergi stated.
“To be truthful, I didn’t know it was going to be a strike. We ended up hoping for it. Lebanese foods is incredibly uncomplicated. People today know it, folks really like it. We employed to stay in Ottawa, in Calgary, in Toronto and there are Lebanese shawarma stores all over the place.”
The elements are not unique, in truth, they are possible to be found in the common home pantry.
“We use a good deal of herbs very little spicy, very little very hot, but a lot of various spices so oregano, thyme, basil, zaatar. We use a ton of that in our culture. They are components that you have all seen and have had ahead of hen and lettuce and tomatoes and garlic. It is just the way we set it collectively it is a very little little bit different,” Gergi spelled out.
Surprisingly, it wasn’t reliable Lebanese cuisine that 1st bought some of the customers via the doors.
“My largest problem when we initially opened 12 yrs ago was that persons didn’t know much about Lebanese food or even what shawarma is. So they’d arrive in and we ended up advertising poutine at the time so I could get individuals to appear in because who does not like poutine, appropriate? And as they would come in and buy poutine, I would say ‘While you are waiting around for your poutine, consider this or try out that’ and we would give them little samples of the donair, the falafel, and the shawarma just to introduce individuals to the foodstuff.”
The Donair dish attributes shaved marinated beef and lamb wrapped in a pita with lettuce, tomato, and onion, topped with the alternative of donair sauce or garlic sauce.
Falafel is a blend of chickpeas and fava bean patties mixed with parsley, onion, garlic, and spices deep-fried and wrapped in a pita with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickled turnip and topped with tahini.
At the conclude of the day, the major vendor is the rooster shawarma.
Chicken shawarma is shaved marinated rotisserie chicken wrapped in a pita with lettuce, tomato, pickles, pickled turnip, and onion, topped with a preference of garlic sauce or hummus.
“For the shawarma we use chicken breasts and rooster breasts only we really do not use darkish meat. You take rooster and you marinate it with a bunch of distinctive spices and garlic of training course. And you set it on a spit and you cook dinner it vertically so it cooks from the outdoors-in then we place that on a wrap with your choice of garlic sauce or hummus,” mentioned Gergi about the group-pleaser.
“I feel one particular of the major reasons is the chicken. Men and women know hen. So it is the best matter to go to since you know it. Rooster shawarma is the big seller but we do have a great deal of vegetarians, a great deal of vegans listed here in North Bay. So falafel’s, vegetarian shawarma, tofu shawarmas are big sellers as perfectly.”
The menu has expanded around the several years to consist of appetizers, bowls, and salads.
“We do wraps, we do platters, we do spouse and children meals, and we do catering, so we do a small bit of everything. We attempt to maintain it as reliable as we possibly can. Obviously, there is some stuff that you just can’t, so our menu is pretty small,” reported Gergi.
“We check out to keep just the staple Lebanese matters that men and women know your shawarma’s, your falafel, your kafta, your donair’s, tabbouli and hummus. We try to continue to keep it very simple by keeping it small, but it is as authentic as we can continue to keep it.”
“We’re open up Monday to Friday 11 to 8. Right before COVID our lunch was the major income maker. We got a good deal of the small business individuals from all over below and what have you. But because COVID we misplaced a large amount of folks who have been operating from home and they are not down in this article as often. We observed that our lunches dropped a bit but our supper has made up the distinction,” Gergi shared.
“Knock on wood we have been continuous the entire time. So COVID from a income point of view has not afflicted us too substantially. We have obviously lost a large amount of catering simply because individuals aren’t having collectively but restaurant sales haven’t noticed far too a great deal of a hit.”
The poutine which the moment drew people into the restaurant when the Cedar Tree to start with opened, remains on the menu currently.
Options change from common poutine to deluxe shawarma poutine fresh-reduce fries topped with Shawarma rooster, cheese curds, and spicy garlic gravy and donair poutine.
”I prepare lots of much more several years below, knock on wood. We’re still likely strong, still loving it and we hope to be right here for really a when,” declared Gergi.
“I feel very grateful with 12 yrs listed here, through COVID, as a result of fires, we’ve experienced so many factors happen and the local community normally stepped up. It is simply because of every person below that we’re even now around and I can make a dwelling executing what I enjoy to do and aid my loved ones.”