Helen Nasheiwat / Albuquerque

My name is Helen Nesheiwat. Originally we’re from Jordan. We’re from New York but originally from Jordan. But we came a long time ago from Jordan. So we spent all our life in New York, and then ten years ago we moved to New Mexico. The reason we moved to New Mexico? First of all, we love the weather. It’s really really nice weather. We have four seasons. Winter is okay you know, not like New York winter. And the summer is not that bad. It’s not like Arizona you know. That’s the thing we like [about] New Mexico. And business is…Business is good.

We had relatives here, and they have been here for a long time. They encouraged us to come here. Even though we have restaurants, delis there, and our relatives and our family is all in New York… we said we’ve been in New York about 35 years and just, just change, you know. And we like it, we like New Mexico. New York is home for us, but it’s quieter here and it’s less stress in New Mexico.

The food is different… Like the green chile, the red chile. Over there, we don’t have it, that’s something new for us here. And some other Mexican or New Mexican that’s different than our food. Other than that, the people here is so nice. They are simple, because you know the state is nice, it’s quiet and calm. It’s not like New York.

We don’t have church here. Arabic church, but there’s a Greek church here [where] we gather. It’s very close to our church and we go there, you know on Sundays, for baptisms, and things like that. We go to that church because we are Christian, we are Roman Catholic. And for the Jordanians, there is not much here, not much people here except from a few families…. We have a huge family there [in New York] but it’s okay. When you stick with the business you know? And when we miss family in New York we just fly back. We are going back and forth.

We started with the Time Square Deli… Yeah we started with that because we had the Delis in New York. And then a lot of people, when we checked the Arabic restaurants here, they were not like what we want. They are not that great. I don’t mean to insult anyone with their restaurant but they are not doing it right. You know what I mean? You know we used to go eat here and there, I don’t want to mention names, but it’s not right. I see it, you know. So we said “okay let’s open Sahara.” Let’s open a Middle Eastern food place, restaurant… And we go from there. So this is our 8th year here. And business has been very good, thank God. And we have a lot of awards like a lot of… Best Restaurants, number one restaurant, this and that. You know the awards you get. Yeah, we always get them. And we’ve been on TV, in the paper, ABQ Journal, the Alibi, iQ magazine. I mean I have all the awards from them. So thank God you know we’re doin’ very good.

All is 100% [family owned and operated]. That’s what makes the business succeed you know? It’s not a franchise. I know all franchises are big. They don’t treat you good, the food is not good. They don’t care okay, it’s a franchise. But the family business I always trust to eat in a family business. Always trust. The franchise, I mean they’re good, and all that you know? They have their own codes and all, but sometimes somebody wants something, they don’t like their work and they could do anything and they don’t care because it’s a big huge subway thing. Huge franchise chain.  But family business I trust it more than any kind of business. Especially food you know? Because like us here, we’re always here. Always here. I mean if I’m not here, my son is here. My son is not here, I’m here. You know what I mean? We have to be here. We have to check everything. The food, the quality, the freshness, all that. It has to be the best, yes.

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[I was] Eleven. Because my family was here. My brother, my sisters, they were here before me. Then my mom came, then we followed you know?… My children? They are all grown up, married, they have children… I had all my children in New York, and then we came here… All of my children here, my grandchildren here.

The cultures….The Arabic cultures especially the Christian…there’s are a lot of cultures. About the wedding, about the way they dress up, about the food. It’s a lot of cultures, especially the Christians you know? We are a little bit different than the others. We couldn’t work without this in our head you know? We have the Easter and the Christmas you know? We gather…Occasionally we have to gather together, like… Some people, just the family, a family reunion. Once a year or every ten years. No, every Occasion we have to gather. Like in baptism, in weddings, in sickness, and all that. Like last month I went to New York three times because my mom was sick. I have to go back and forth and back and forth. We’re together you know?… Too close. Family is so close.

I respect everyone you know? Because that’s their cultures, and this is their cultures. That’s the way they grow up. You know, maybe they are making fun of me, “oh what a culture”. And maybe I say “oh my god how could they do that, what a culture”. That’s why it’s called culture you know. Yeah.

To Listen to Helen’s full story, click here: Helen_SoundCloud

 

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