8/15/2020
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Safari, New York City’s only Somali restaurant, surviving, adapting during COVID-19


Monday June 29, 2020
By Joe Pantorno

Safari Restaurant, the only Somali dining establishment in New York City, has found a way to keep its doors open during the coronavirus pandemic and throughout the reopening phases.

Mona Birjeeb, owner of Safari, told amNewYork Metro that after weeks and months of donating food during the COVID-19 pandemic, they are doing delivery and takeout as Phase 3 of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s reopening plan draws near.

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She is also hoping to apply for a food truck that will help bring their food to the people considering the small restaurant cannot accommodate six-foot social-distancing regulations.

Opened in May of 2015, the restaurant located at 219 W. 116th Street in Harlem provides its diners with a rare Eastern-African culinary experience that is as authentic as one can find in the tri-state area.

“[People think] we only have beautiful women and pirates. There’s more to it, there’s culture behind it,” Birjeeb told amNewYork Metro in a featureSomalia is the land of spices. When you think of Somali food, this is what you think of — all these warm spices.”

Those ingredients, which come directly from Somalia,

Most spices come from Somalia, bring Birjeeb back home.

“Every time I cook, it reminds me of my mom, my sisters,” she said.



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