Two women working inside the kitchen at Syriously, a pop-up restaurant in Luxembourg-Hollerich, and the Syrian dishes they prepared, 11 July 2017
At the pop-up restaurant “Syriously”, Syrian refugees have been serving Middle Eastern delicacies to local residents since May.
The restaurant, in the capital’s Hollerich district, is cosy, small and a vibrant melting-pot of customers.
From young to old, local to foreigner, urban to rural resident, Syriously has become the culinary hotspot of the grand duchy. Up to 50 reservations a day are racked up on Facebook. Apart from the food, however, it is an opportunity for local residents to support the 80% of the staff working at Syriously who are refugees.
Only two years after he fled the war in Syria, Mahmoud opened the social enterprise in partnership with two local residents, Pitt Pirrotte and Marianne Donven. Pirrotte, a real estate agent, temporarily offered the empty premises in Hollerich to Mahmoud; the site is due to be torn down by the end of 2018.
The communication manager of the pop-up restaurant, Frédérique Buck, told Delano on Wednesday 6 September how Mahmoud, who often goes by the nickname Moudie, is integrating:
“Moudie is quite clever: he used to cook for private people in Luxembourg, which helped him to meet many local residents.”
A direct exchange between local residents and refugees have led to the success story of Syriously, according to Buck.
Customers dine inside of “Syriously”, a pop-up restaurant that opened its doors in May 2017 in Luxembourg-Hollerich. Picture credit: Syriously
Even before the site had been transformed into a restaurant, local residents could get actively involved. The founders opened a call on Facebook and invited volunteers to donate table and cutlery, and therefore, to become a part of the history of Syriously.
It is through successful projects that stories like Moudie’s reach the wider public, explained Buck: “through narrative discourse you no longer stir a reaction; in terms of the refugee situation, people are asking for ‘yes, we can’ stories.”
Mahmoud and his team have been preparing to live an independent life in the grand duchy, and thus the project is on the verge to coach the next team by the beginning of next year. In that way, the founders stay true to their initial goal, as Pirrotte told Delano:
“The goal of this project was to get a maximum of people to work and to show them the way towards independence. And now, they are ready; their cooking skills are amazing. Their administrative knowledge can be improved but is sufficient to make it without support.”
Syriously provides work to refugees, but at the same time fosters a cultural rapprochement between locals and foreigners--along with a wide range of Syrian cuisine. At the end of the day, Pirrotte added, “food is a universal language.”
The restaurant is open every day from 7pm to 9:30pm.