If you ask Mohammed AbuSaad, fresh falafel is something that’s been missing in Halifax Regional Municipality.
“To make good and fresh falafel, you have to really focus on the falafel and not on anything else, because it requires some processing and whatnot,” he told The Chronicle Herald.
That’s why, on Oct. 6, he launched Falafel Factory and started serving fresh falafel that he makes from scratch. Overnight, he soaks chickpeas. Bright and early in the morning, he mixes them with herbs, adds spices, rolls that mixture into balls and fries them.
At first, he was selling falafel balls, falafel wraps and hummus in different parts of the HRM in a food truck. On Nov. 11, AbuSaad moved his falafel business to a fixed location at 1189 Bedford Highway.
With colder months ahead, he said he’s grateful to have a more permanent Falafel Factory location.
“It’s much better than a non-fixed location because the logistics of the food truck was not easy and the winter’s coming so it’s not going to be any easier,” he said.
AbuSaad, who is Palestinian, moved from Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates to Halifax with his family in 1994.
In 2019, he completed an industrial engineering degree at Dalhousie University. Just eight months after graduating, COVID-19 hit, which got him brainstorming about what he wanted to do next, he said.
While he was still applying for jobs in the industrial engineering field and consulting his professors about career plans, he came up with the idea of launching a business centred around selling fresh falafel.
Six months ago, AbuSaad learned how to make falafel, experimented with different recipes and decided to run with the idea.
“If you have a business idea in your head, you think about it all the time, and I said, ‘You know what? I’ll give it a try,’ and I did and it went well,” he said, noting that Old Robot Brewing Company, which is co-owned by ex-engineers, partly gave him the inspiration to launch the business.
“So far so good.”
Even with COVID-19 posing uncertainty for businesses in the food sector, AbuSaad said he figured his business would stand a chance of surviving — and thriving — because falafel is “mostly a pickup item” that people can easily purchase and take home.
Falafel Factory is also on UberEats, making that takeout option all the more accessible, he said.
With COVID-19 case numbers in Nova Scotia climbing in recent days, AbuSaad has taken an additional measure to ensure his customers remain safe and healthy. On Tuesday, he started selling raw falafel dough, giving customers the option of cooking their own falafel at home. He’s selling two kilograms of the dough for $25, which he said is enough to make 50 falafel balls.
So far, AbuSaad said, Arab and non-Arab customers alike seem to be enjoying his falafel, a traditional Middle Eastern food that is 100 per cent vegan. He even had someone from the UAE recently compliment his falafel, he said, who was shocked to taste “Dubai falafel in Halifax.”
“I’m really happy to know people like it.”
As he continues to “test the market,” AbuSaad said his vision is to open a lot of small Falafel Factory locations around the Halifax area in the future.
Noushin Ziafati, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chronicle Herald