Yaba Mediterranean Grill, located at 1201 Charles Blvd., officially opened on June 16. Yaba is the sister restaurant to Bateeni Mediterranean Grill located at 1868 W Arlington Blvd. in Greenville, North Carolina.
Majd Thaher, a sophomore biomedical engineering major, said he is the co-owner of Yaba Mediterranean Grill and his father, Asif Thaher, is the main owner of Bateeni Mediterranean.
Thaher said “Yaba” means father in Arabic and he calls his father yaba, so the family chose the name because they wanted something simple and easy to remember.
“We wanted to bring something closer to campus to bring East Carolina (University) great food at a quality price,” Thaher said.
Yaba has the same authentic dishes from Jerusalem as Bateeni Mediterranean Grill at a great price, Thaher said. As a student himself, he understands not having a lot of money to spend on quality food, he said.
Thaher said the restaurant serves Mediterranean salad, Jerusalem salad, humus, authentic shawarma and more.
“We cook the shawarma slow and slice the meat thin, that way you get an even bite and you get the juiciness and it doesn’t get dry,” Thaher said.
Thaher does not feel the Stay-at-Home Phase 2 order affected the restaurant’s grand opening. He said Yaba had a soft opening on June 11 where free sandwiches were given away.
Customers are able to sit inside of the restaurant and come into the restaurant to pick up takeout, according to Thaher. He said Yaba will offer delivery soon through third party services such as DoorDash, Uber Eats and Takeout Pros.
Jules Khan, an ECU alumna with a Bachelor of Science in nutrition and dietetics, said she has visited the restaurant twice so far for takeout. She said the first time she went to the restaurant, she ordered falafel as an appetizer, chicken shawarma and the mint lemonade. The second time she ordered takeout, she said she ordered the beef shawarma bowl with lettuce.
“The service was great. They (employees) were really nice and the food is excellent,” Khan said.
The portion sizes of her meals are generous for the price, Khan said, and the ingredients are fresh.
Khan said they make the mint lemonade per order and the lemonade was not too sweet or sugary.
“They (Yaba staff) make it (mint lemonade) from scratch and they make it per order. You might have to wait a little bit for them to do it. They blend up handfuls of mint and everything. It is worth the five minutes or however long you have to wait for it,” Khan said.
Rami Darawsheh, a Greenville native, said he went into Yaba to order takeout and ate his food outside of the restaurant.
Darawsheh said in an email statement the staff is very friendly and helpful. He ordered a chicken shawarma sandwich called the “Bad Mike Special” which he said was the best in Greenville.
“I would recommend Yaba to anyone looking to try something new. While being healthy, Yaba is also very filling, and I can eat it a bunch of times and not get bored of the food. This restaurant makes the best chicken shawarma in town,” Darawsheh said in the email statement.