On every table at Almond Bar are small wooden plates holding four different types of almonds: cinnamon, smoked, zaatar and smoked chilli and sesame. Since we were kids, Carol Salloum tells me, Mum’s kept a container of nuts in the fridge for when guests come over. The kids would get in the fridge and almonds would always been the first to go.
Sisters and Almond Bar co-owners Carol and Sharon Salloum drew media attention in August this year for their decision to drop Uber and Deliveroo services from their business. Their explanatory Instagram post read:
“We are hoping to make change in our already lonely society. The more we encourage people to eat out with friends or even come in alone and eat with us, the more human interaction enhances the lives of those around us.”
View this post on Instagram
We have made the difficult decision to no longer be available on delivery platforms Uber Eats & Deliveroo as of the 1st of August. We have been offering these for years and these are the reasons we have decided to stop: * The 33% commission (yes 33%) they take has eaten into our cashflow significantly and is no longer sustainable. It is way more than our profit. * We are finding that people are not coming out as much anymore and experiencing the hospitality we offer, which is what makes us who we are. We pride ourselves on producing excellent food and hospitality. The hospitality side of it has been blocked completely through deliveries.. * The quality of our food is often compromised because of the time it takes for pickup and delivery. It is served in a container rather than presented nicely on a plate. * We do not want at any point to have the dining-in customers feeling that their experience is compromised as a result of a delivery order being processed before theirs. * We are hoping to make change in our already lonely society. The more we encourage people to eat out with friends or even come in alone and eat with us, the more human interaction enhances the lives of those around us. * You are paying the same amount for the food if you come in. . This may cause some upset but we need people to understand that we did not make this decision lightly. Using delivery platforms gave us the opportunity to reach people that haven’t eaten our food before. However, the cons outweighed the pros when making this decision. Hopefully this means that our food will draw you to us. To have the whole Almond Bar experience, not just out of a container. . If you really want to eat at home, we will have TAKE -AWAY AVAILABLE AT 10% OFF. At least we will still get to see you and say hi. Bring back human interaction. #almondbar #darlinghurst #ubereats #deliveroo #sydneyfood #delivery #bringbackhumaninteraction #whatishospitality #experienceus #syrianfood #middleeasternfood
Carol and Sharon grew up in a traditionally Syrian household in the western suburbs, with a father who believed that any ailment was down to not eating enough and a mother who was constantly cooking and entertaining house guests.
“I was going out to restaurants and seeing the beginning of food sharing culture here. I thought, ‘this is what we’re about, this is what we were brought up doing, I reckon we could do this,” said Carol.
“After 9/11 Middle Eastern people weren’t being respected, so we felt like we needed to show people that we’re a good culture, we’re hospitable, we look after people. Food is in our blood, so is serving people and knowing people.”
Almond Bar’s Big Syrian Barbecue is now a fixture of Darlinghurst’s culinary calendar. Twice a year the back laneway is flooded with locals, often waiting in line for over forty minutes for their share in the feasting festivity.
“It’s massive and it creates such a beautiful atmosphere. Music’s going, our family’s here, it’s about being together in whatever capacity and knowing that you’re part of a community,” said Carol.
Having family in Syria, for Carol and Sharon it felt instinctive to approach Refugee Settlement Services and help Syrian refugees with their settlement in Australia.
“For us it was a personal thing. Any one of those people could have been our family. It made sense to get involved with them,” said Sharon.
“It started with helping out in their community kitchen in Auburn, and we now try to match employers with refugee employees, in more areas than just hospitality.”
“People didn’t even know where Syria was when we first opened. Now everybody knows where it is for the wrong reasons. We just want people to see it as a beautiful country with hospitable people. Maybe one day people will be able to go there and see what it’s really like,” said Carol.
Follow @almondbar to stay up to date with events like the Syrian Barbecue, Syrian Breakfast and Mulukhiyah and Vegan Nights, recurring throughout the year.