When Hekmat Ani and her husband Abdul Jabi brought a Syrian restaurant to Halifax over a decade ago, they started on Quinpool Road.
Four locations later, and they’re back, just a block down from their original location.
“We have a lot of customer history, since the first branch, since 2008 they are in Halifax, and they follow us for each location we open. Even we changed the names, but they love us and they love our food a lot,” says Ani.
Jabi has always been the chef and Ani has run the business side of things since first opening Aleppo Cafe next to the TD bank.
Shortly after that, they moved into the Brewery Market on Lower Water Street for a few years. “We sell the business because I was having a baby and my husband was so tired and to just take a little break with the baby. And then we opened in 2017 on Quinpool again,” says Ani.
That third location, at 6920 Quinpool near Preston Street, brought back a swarm of customers, says Ani, “They love our food a lot, they so excited when we post we are in Quinpool again. And they just saying to me, we need the shawarma, we need the falafel. They love our food, they miss it.”
But in fall 2019, that location was also forced to close, as the highly-sought-after area was slated to be used for the mixed-use nine-storey TED tower, built by Facade Investments Ltd. “They have permission to do a renovation to have a tower there,” says Ani.
Covid didn’t make the process any faster, forcing Ani and Jabi to move their restaurant equipment into their own home while they searched for a new spot. “We are in so [much] stress right now to open with Covid, but hopefully our customers don’t leave us.”
Finally, after a year-long search and months of lease deliberations, 7 Peppers is happily returning to the same neighbourhood that supported them for years, moving into the location of the old Bramoso Pizza, which closed in February of this year.
“We just keep doing a lot of things and searching. This space, [we've been] talking about it since July,” Ani says in a phone call.
The restaurant hopes to open the second week of January—it's just waiting on contractors and a propane fill-up before they bring delicious shawarma, falafel, lamb kofta and more back to Quinpool.
“We are so relieved right now, but we are in a rush to open as soon as we can," says Ani. "Because I have a lot, a lot of messages from our customers, 'When do we open?'”