Four years ago, Hamza Deib and his family opened their first Taheni Mediterranean Grill in Brooklyn.
They would commute to the restaurant from Bay Shore, sometimes enduring bumper-to-bumper traffic and three-hour rides.
Two years after opening their first location, they debuted their second spot in the Turnstyle Underground Market below Columbus Circle in Manhattan.
After years of operating in the city, the Deib family decided it was time to bring their mother’s recipes back to Long Island. So, they opened their third location right here.
Taheni Mediterranean Grill swung opened its doors Oct. 6 at 296 East Montauk Highway in Lindenhurst.
Throughout their childhood, Deib said he and his eight siblings always talked about one day opening up their own restaurant with their mother, whom they affectionally call Mama.
All nine of the siblings, as well as their mother, are heavily involved in the business and make sure each location functions properly.
Hamza, Anas and Malek Deib run the businesses daily.
“When we opened in Brooklyn four years ago, it was something we walked into fresh, something that we had no knowledge of, whether it was business or food,” Deib said. “But, it was something we adapted to, we bucked down and we pushed right through it.”
Long Island has been the brothers’ “backyard” for 26 years, but when they first decided to open their business, opening a location close to home wasn’t in their plan.
They noticed Long Island was developing and changing, so they decided it was time to bring the business back home.
The menu consists of traditional dishes the Deib family grew up eating, like falafel, hummus, beef kofta and lamb, though sometimes with a twist.
For example, a traditional dish called musakhan is typically served like a pizza, but at Taheni in Lindenhurst, they offer it as a snack wrap filled with caramelized onions, sumac, chicken, and olive oil.
The Lindenhurst location also experiments with its desserts, such as the Baclava milkshake. Anas Dieb said most of their menu items are dishes they would eat at home, though transformed into a simpler format.
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“My mom was always used to just a little dash of this, a little dash of that, and we took those methods and simplified them a bit more so we can teach anybody,” Anas Dieb said.
The brothers have no cooking background — everything they know about authentic Mediterranean cuisine they learned from their mom, who is from Palestine. She’s been cooking since around 9 years old.
“Everything here is Mama’s recipes,” he said. “From the seasoning to the sauces, to everything, it’s all made in house.”
The matriarch of the family is at the Lindenhurst location almost daily helping out in the kitchen — she rarely takes a day off.
The brothers said the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive so far, and one thing the restaurant is thriving on currently is the ability to give back to the Lindenhurst community.
Hamza Dieb said prior to diving into the restaurant business, he worked in a corporate setting in home improvement and was given the opportunity at a young age.
He said he wants to provide the same to the young residents of Lindenhurst and Long Island.
“Your age does not stop your growth, it’s whatever you put forward and whatever you show us you want to do, we are going to work side-by-side with you,” Hamza Dieb said. “It feels good to be able to see people develop and learn skills that most people their age don’t have.”
The Dieb family is no stranger to philanthropy and helping out those in the community, especially during these difficult, pandemic times.
During this time, the Dieb family hit a roadblock themselves with their second Manhattan location, which only just reopened.
“New York City got hit really, really hard, and we were out there giving out meals to organizations to help distribute all over the place,” Hamza Dieb said. “Within one month, we distributed over 20,000 meals — meals that went to EMTs, fire departments, NYPD, to hospitals, to cleaning crews, whoever was out there still working was getting food.”
The Taheni crew also partnered with non-profit organizations to give out meals to the homeless.
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As for the future of the business, Deib said they are going to continue to expand the Taheni brand to East Northport and the Staten Island Mall.
Once it is safe to do so, pandemic wise, the Taheni team hopes to bring kid activities like pita-bread making classes to schools to better connect with the residents.
The owners said they want to continue to do their part in the Lindenhurst community and create a stronger footprint on Long Island.
“Any way that we can help, that we can be a part of, we want to be there for it,” Hamza said.
Top: The interior of Taheni Mediterranean Grill in Lindenhurst.
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