Interview by Michelle Holler:
BRO is featuring a series of interviews that will help to tell the stories of the people who have opened businesses at the West Side Bazaar. The objective of the series is to highlight the compelling journeys that each shop owner made, so that we may become familiar with the owners and their businesses.
Name: Zelalem Gemmeda
Country of Origin: Ethiopia
Languages spoken: Amharic (mother tongue), Arabic, And English
My Journey to Buffalo: I was born and raised in Ethiopia but had to leave due to political reasons. I left for Yemen alone when I was in my 20’s for safety purposes. I ended up living in a refugee camp in Yemen for a year. After that I began working in a restaurant. I worked in the restaurant for several years and while working there I also worked for the ICD, which is the International Corporation for development, I worked as a data clerk. After many years of working in the restaurant I ended taking over the role as the owner. I lived in Yemen for about 12 years, and was married there. The reason for me being in Buffalo is both my husband and myself were resettled here as refugees.
My Shop in the West Side Bazaar: At my shop I sell authentic Ethiopian Cuisine. The spice I use is what makes my food unique. I have spices sent to me from Ethiopia by my sister who still lives there. I then mix the spices to create my own flavors. My customer’s favorite dishes are the meat combo and the vegetarian combo. The combo’s come on injera, which is sour dough flat bread. This is a dish that is typically eaten with your hands. The injera is used as a way to soak up the flavors of the sample dishes on top of it and as a tool to pick up the food with. Some examples of what would come on top of the injera include cabbage, spicy lentils, potatoes and beets all with my special seasoning on it. I try to keep the price low and portions high for my customer.
My Future Plans: I would love to someday own my own Ethiopian Restaurant. I would sell original dishes and serve everything on handmade plates. All details in my restaurant would be traditionally Ethiopian, this is my dream.
The West Side Bazaar | 25 Grant Street | Buffalo NY 14213
For more on the West Side Bazaar (facebook), check out gysma’s african style, rakhapura mutee & sushi, julienne boutique, moonlady arts & crafts, pure peru, nepali clothing and cosmetics, Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony