Tamam is Canada’s first Palestinian restaurant, offering traditional Palestinian dishes. Their goal is to create a bridge to connect people with Palestine through the love of great food. Owners Sobhi Zobaidi (an auteur filmmaker and university lecturer) and his wife, Tamam (a former theatre actress) began the restaurant in the Hastings-Sunrise neighbourhood in 2013, and opened a new quick service location on Commercial Drive – Tamam To Go, in 2020. Discover the flavours and hospitality of Palestine at Tamam.
Question: How are you supporting other local businesses?
Answer: We source all our ingredients from small local grocers, most of them right in our neighbourhood. We prefer to purchase locally grown whenever we can when what we need is in season. We don’t use much dairy but our Halloumi cheese is made in Montreal and our bread is made in Abbotsford. I estimate that 70% of our ingredients are local. About 85% of our wine is locally sourced and 80% of our beers are local craft beers.
We use local service providers from the neighbourhood too. We switched to the local Vancity branch from one of the big 5 banks recently and felt so supported by them. They supported the gift card promotion (SupportLocalBC.com Vancity Loves Local Week) that brought critical revenue into our business during the early part of the COVID-19 crisis and even gave us a grant.
Also, the fact that our business is becoming a popular destination in Vancouver increases visitors to the neighbourhood, and that benefits our whole community and all the area’s businesses.
Question: What social and environmental practices are you proud of?
Answer: Since before the pandemic, we have made it a policy to pool tips from customers to increase the minimum wage for all employees. At the moment, BC’s minimum wage is $15.20 but the minimum wage we pay is $20. All our staff makes at least that much no matter how busy we are, even our cleaners. We also guarantee our staff a minimum number of hours so they can have stability. We have helped individuals with special needs to implement their training at our kitchen under supervision, this includes women who have come from distressed situations. Even when we haven’t been in need of employees, we have added individuals to our payroll just to help them out. We love to support the community in any way we can. We’ve never turned down a request for a donation, period. We’ve partnered with the community policing center on various occasions including fundraising dinner parties, volunteers appreciation days, and more. We’ve offered our kitchen for free to help a local Muslim relief organization offering free soup in the Downtown Eastside. And last summer, when our daughter’s planned graduation from Hastings Elementary was canceled, we stepped in and offered the whole class and their teachers, a free dinner party to celebrate the end of the year together. It was the best thing we have ever done!
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