Meet the Members: Saleh, a Syrian Restaurateur Entering Turkey’s Sweets Industry


Name: Saleh Alabdallah
Business: Chocolate Shawarma Shop
LIFE Cohort: 1st Cohort, Mersin
Home Country: Syria

Saleh is a food entrepreneur from Deir ez-Zor, Syria. After graduating from the Technical Institute for Tourism and Hotel Sciences in Syria, he worked in Sham Palace and other hotels for twelve years. Almost four years before the outbreak of the Syrian conflict, Saleh opened his own restaurant for pizza and sweets along with all kinds of juices.

Forced to leave his home country, Saleh moved to Turkey in 2016. “I came straight to Mersin as I had friends before me settling here and their feedback in general was always positive about this city. I [then] worked in restaurants in Mersin.” As Saleh realized that the market demand in Mersin focused more on delivery services than restaurants, he transitioned to Turkish sweet shops. He currently works in Has Kunefe, a local dessert shop.

Recently, he began developing the idea for a business that takes an innovative approach to shawarma. Saleh learned about the LIFE Project through a friend. When asked about his experience as a LIFE member, Saleh said he enjoyed the diversity of ideas and the focus on learning about Turkey’s food entrepreneurship environment. He also benefited from the LIFE Project’s business support services:“I received useful information [from the LIFE Project], especially on financial and legal regulations.”

As one of the winners of the LIFE Project’s business pitch competition, Saleh wants to open a shop that offers chocolate shawarma, chocolate rolled into a large piece of flatbread. When asked about the next steps of his business, Saleh said: “the next steps are the hardest because what is coming is the establishment phase. The equipment is really expensive and I am considering a partner now to invest with me on this project. I am also researching the right location for the shop.”

Saleh encourages people with good business ideas to pursue their project as they can most surely find the right entrepreneurship pathway as he did.

Are you interested in Saleh’s story or see potential in his business as an investor? Reach out to him directly:   @shwrmshwkwl.