O1 Kebab: A Conversation about Family and Resilience

01 Kebab, a halal-certified restaurant residing in Melbourne, is known to provide Turkish food that is freshly made which is sure to not disappoint. They offer a range of affordable dishes to pick from such as Adana, a popular Turkish dish, kuzu cigeri (lamb liver), Mediterranean food, lamb shish, chicken shish, salads and dips.

I had the privilege to speak to the owner’s daughter, Atena, who helps her father run things at the restaurant. It’s a family affair that showcases their resilience and adaptability despite their circumstances. Their passion translates into the way they treat their customers and seek customer satisfaction over everything. “Customer service is very important to us, customer care is our top priority from the food, service and environment”.

Image via 01 Kebab Google images

Atena talks about fleeing Iran with her family, which consisted of her parents and her younger brother, to seek a better life which wasn’t attainable in her country. She talks about her schooling in Iran which lasted until grade 3 which she then continued once in Australia. “It was a pretty big difference, not just in what I was learning but also culturally”. She felt there was a study gap from her time studying in Iran compared to Australia. She says “studying in Iran was much harder than in Australia, what I was learning in year 8 here was what I was learning in year 3 in Iran”. There would also be exams she was required to pass each year to move up a grade which was a big difference. Since then they decided to come to Australia in 2013 and have been here for the last 10 years making the most of the opportunity. 

What did your parents do before their move to Australia?

“My mum used to work in hospitality and my dad worked as a bank teller”. She states her mum really enjoyed hospitality and even had a great job in Iran. Her father being a bank teller showcased a close family bond. “It’s kind of a family thing where everyone worked at a bank from my grandfather, great grandfather, pretty much everyone”.

How did you end up in Melbourne?

“We ended up in Melbourne since we were in a detention centre located in Broadmeadows”. There, her family met a helpful man who assisted them get settled due to his connections and reputation. “He got us in touch with a real estate agent who had a house for us to live in and we have been living in Melbourne ever since”.

Who is involved in running the business?

“My dad is the owner of the restaurant, he is the co-director, the boss, but we also have a partner from a butcher shop”. Upon arriving in Australia, Atena’s dad worked at Victorian Halal Meats, conveniently located five minutes from their restaurant. He worked as a cleaner for a year and was then offered a job to work as a butcher by the owner. “My dad accepted the offer and then 6 months later he became a manager there, managing all orders, making sure everything ran smoothly”. “He pretty much became the second boss since the original owner was overseas often,” she says. This started a long-lasting partnership when the butchery owner saw potential in Atena’s dad.

Why did you decide to sell Turkish food instead of Iranian food?

“My dad’s business partner is Turkish and Adana is very popular in Roxburgh Park as the main population consists of Turkish people”. She goes on to explain that Turkish restaurants tend to do much better than Iranian restaurants in their area. Her dad has been able to master the techniques of Turkish food as he has been working alongside them for over 10 years. However, there are customers who seek Persian style food which 01 Kebab happily accommodates for. “When people call in advance my dad prepares Iranian kebabs for them”. “We will try to further incorporate Persian food on a trial basis while gathering feedback from our customers”. She hopes to sell more Persian food once they have a bigger space.

What is the best part about running your business?

“The family, literally just being with the family”. Atena’s first job was at the butcher shop along with her dad which then led her to work at Bunnings Warehouse alongside her mum. She found it worthwhile until her dad opened up the Kebab restaurant. She goes on to talk about how family is important to her as the majority of her relatives still live in Iran, and having someone there for her is crucial. “Having someone in the workplace where if anything goes wrong you can tell them….that connection is important”. “My family is the only thing I have got in Australia…….I haven’t got anyone else”. “Being able to maintain that relationship is important”.

Was there anything that surprised you working at 01 Kebab?

“I didn’t think the business would pick up in terms of customers but since day one we have seen customers who have now become regulars”. “I didn’t think I would have any connection with them but if they didn’t show up for a week I would wonder where they were”. Atena mentioned that her family don’t often visit restaurants, so when customers started turning up each day it was more of a shock. 

Do you have any future plans you would like to share?

“We would love to expand the business one day, at the moment the shop is pretty small but not too tiny”. “A place where we could fit 30 tables, have more workers helping out, and expand the business is pretty important to us”. Atena then talks about how every ounce of their being has been put towards this business especially their savings to make this restaurant work. “We had family and friends help us paint and get the shop up and running, it’s pretty much who we are now”. “This is why it’s important to expand the business and be able to maintain it as well”. 

What can we do to support the people and women in Iran?

“Spread the word as we cant do much from the other side of the country”. “Our voices cannot be heard by the politicians in Iran because they don’t care”. “The politicians couldn’t care less that women are dying and children are getting raped”. She then goes on to say “The more that politicians in other countries are aware the less likely they are to work with Iranian government”. “The basic human rights violations happening in Iran only came to light recently”. She explains how first arriving in Melbourne many of her classmates didn’t know where Iran was which was surprising for her. “A lot of politicians didn’t even know that Iran was such an unsafe country for women and everyone in general”. Despite people raising awareness around the world about the situation in Iran she explains that “It’s still not a liveable country for anyone especially women”. “If this situation were to happen in Australia where women are killed by police for wearing so-called revealing clothes or having a strand of hair visible, the public would be outraged, it would be all over the media”. 

She [Atena] did highlight the importance of not only supporting women but also children in Iran who are brainwashed by their government. Her dad has been helping an orphanage in Iran ever since they moved to Australia. She says “she technically has two siblings and her parents donate every new year in Iran”. “We make sure that the entire orphanage has clothes, food and money where possible”. “It’s important we help everyone in situations like this in any way we can”.

You can find 01 Kebab in Melbourne located at Shop 7/22 Hollywood Dr, Roxburgh Park VIC 3064

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