Habibi & Hawara, Where Two Cultures Meet

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There is a new restaurant coming to town (tomorrow!), and it’s a concept that not many have heard about before. In order to help refugees in Austria, Habibi & Hawara is going to give a hand in a whole new way. We interviewed its founders to understand what is going on (and how we can get some of the food as well, please).

The Story

Founders Martin Rohla and David Kreytenberg had the idea of creating a restaurant to help refugees with their future some time ago. During a few workshops in Vienna created to give a hand to the refugees, the two came in contact with many who had priceless experience in the kitchen back in Syria as cooks. The beautiful encounter of two worlds set the whole thing in motion: why not open a restaurant which would bring together Austrian and Syrian food culture? And so the idea of Habibi and Hawara was born. 

Interviewing Martin Rohla and David Kreytenberg

Habibi & Hawara will be a place where two cultures very far away from each other come together, but also one where some refugees will have the opportunity to become entrepreneurs themselves. “20% of the shares of the restaurant is now reserved for the best employees.” said Martin Rohla of the most important part of the project. “After a certain time, we want to give it to the best guys there; and there will be the option to buy the rest for a very good price. The most important thing of the idea is that we want to help them to start their own companies.

“We don’t want people to see Habibi & Hawara as a one-time project;” continued David Kreytenberg “We want to inspire more Austrians to do the same, and to help more refugees.”

480_477 withtextThe Food

And when it comes to the delicious part, the two founders describe a well-oiled plan. The main chefs are Austrian, so that they can teach the new Syrian employees with less experience. And when we talk about food and service, it’s where the magic happens.

Lunchtime at Habibi will feature the possibility to choose between a combination of menus, where Austrian delicacies just make up 30% of the overall menu, leaving space to traditional Syrian cuisine. At dinner, however, is where the game really changes.


The menu disappears; the customer is spoiled with a delicious dishes, both Austrian and Oriental, one after the other, coming to the table every five minutes or so, to share with his dinner companions.

The sharing policy is central, and part of the very experience. The restaurant will also host a pop-up corner, where different projects will take place. One among all, a gallery exhibiting art made by creatives among the refugees.

Speaking of cooking, we had the chance to speak with some of the cooks in the kitchen, refugees from Syria, who shared their dishes of choice. The main picks nclude vegan food, with original oriental recipes invented by the chefs themselves, and traditional shawarma, the art of which has been learned in historical eateries in the center of Damascus.

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If we haven’t tempted you enough yet, we can add that Habibi & Hawara will be opening its doors this Wednesday, on May 4, with a big party. If you are in for a delicious surprise, we are sure Habibi won’t disappoint, and it will be a tasty way to give a hand.

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  1. […] Här kan ni läsa om konceptet på engelska, målet är att förena österrikisk och syrisk matkultur samt ge nyanlända en seriös chans att fatta fotfäste på arbetsmarknaden som kock och service personal. The Story behind hittar ni här […]

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