A new restaurant in the Crosstown Concourse is causing quite a stir, and it’s not just because of the dishes they’re serving.
“This is our second week and we’re so busy,” said Ibti Samsalih, a Sudanese refugee who makes up one-third of the cooking team at Global Cafe.
We caught her as she wound down from lunch hour. She said they’ve been packed and she loves meeting new customers.
One special ingredient defines the entire mission of the new restaurant.
“I always tell them I cook my food with love,” Samsalih said.
“The number one ingredient in our kitchen is love and then acceptance and inclusion,” general manager Juan Viramontes said.
Viramontes said all employees at Global Café are immigrants and refugees.
“Our mission statement, if you would, is cultural enrichment and bringing people together via our food,” he said.
The three chefs are all women serving food from their homelands of Syria, Nepal and Sudan.
“I came 19 years ago for political reasons,” Samsalih said.
Samsalih’s husband was a journalist in Sudan covering the government. It put his life at risk, so they left with their two children as refugees.
But the food remained a part of her.
“That’s a piece of my culture, and I love to share with the people,” she said.
From chicken schawarma on the Sudanese menu to chicken chow mein on the Nepalese menu, customers have a lot to choose from.
“It’s a variety and a lot of people of different cultures have the opportunity to come in here and experience it,” customer Denise Sweat said.
Viramontes said guests like Denise make up the final ingredient.
“You can build a lot of bridges through food. Everyone understands food. Not everyone is going to understand immigration and not everyone is going to understand multiple languages, but every body understands food no matter what,” he said.
“I have two customers that cried with me because they feel it. They cry, and they say they feel the love I give to them in my food,” Samsalih said.
That’s how she know her dishes fill the stomach and the heart.
Global Café is located near the entrance to Crosstown Concourse. It’s open seven days a week for lunch and dinner. Every dish on the menu costs less than $10.