For a country that’s growing more culturally diverse in nearly all aspects, Canada is still strangely traditional when it comes to the foods we enjoy the most. Our culinary landscape is largely populated with restaurants offering the typical North American fare of steaks, burgers and pizza to Canadianized versions of Greek, Italian, Chinese and other ethnic favourites.
However, there is a growing appetite for foods that cater to an audience with broader tastes and palettes. That’s good news for Aly Haman, owner of Stratford’s newest culinary destination, Tahini’s Restaurant.
“I think Canada is a country built on diversity,” said Haman, who along with his partners have established 26 Ontario locations of the ever-expanding Tahini’s chain of restaurants. “There’s no better way to express that then by expressing it in our foods. At Tahini’s, we bring out what I like to call Canadian food now, which is a reflection of all the diversity in Canada. That’s what Canada is all about.”
While the food at Tahini’s is often described as Middle Eastern, Haman says the menu at his restaurants offers more of a fusion of international flavours.
“We combine a lot of cuisine from different places with our cuisine to make new dishes that appeal to a wider customer base,” said Haman, who will celebrate the grand opening of Tahini’s Restaurant in Stratford on May 14th. “For example, we have Jamaican Jerk Shawarma that combines Jamaican cuisine with Middle Eastern cuisine, we have Butter Chicken Shawarma that combines Indian cuisines with Middle Eastern Cuisine, and we have Shawarma Poutine that combines a Canadian favourite with Middle Eastern cuisine to make something unique.”
Haman calls such menu items Tahini’s “bread and butter” offerings, but says they’re at the heart of the chain’s rapid success because “our customers love our products and they do taste amazing.” The other pillar on which success at Tahini’s has been built is a total commitment to servicing customers both in-person and on-line.
“We owe our success to a lot of things but the main thing is that we try to be a guest-obsessed company. Everything we do revolves around our guests. We’re obsessed with making the experience better, the food better, the pricing better. That’s the ethos of our success.”
Since it’s launch, Tahini’s has recognized the promotional value in reaching out to social media. As a result, the chain has millions of on-line subscribers and followers, including over one million YouTube subscribers and nearly 700,000 Tik Tok followers.
“We have achieved that by providing entertainment for our social media audience,” said Hamam, who owns Tahini’s restaurant along with his brother Omar and cousin Ahmed. “We create funny comedy GIFs and collaborate with creators, actors, comedians, and good bloggers and influencers. The result is we kind of connect with our audience and that puts us on a big stage in the social media world.”
Nowhere is the importance of being on a big stage better understood than in Stratford, which is a smaller town built on long-standing tradition. Haman sees that as a great opportunity for his latest restaurant.
“I think this is a tight-knit community,” he said. “The way we’re approaching it is we really want to build relationships with everyone in the community. We want people to not just come in to order food, we want to build a connection with our customers. We don’t want to offer your typical McDonald’s experience. We want to build a more personal experience and we think that will resonate with the people of Stratford.”
To celebrate the May 14th grand opening, Tahini’s Restaurant will be offering a one-day special 50 percent discount on all wraps and bowls.
“That’s a once-in-a-lifetime deal,” said Hamam. “With 50 percent off we lose money but the goal is to get people to try our food and hopefully come back again and again.”
Learn more about Tahini’s Restaurants and explore their menu. Visit Tahani's online here.