Fresh Mediterranean Express - Waukee, Iowa!

Dreamer: Hassan Atarmal Winner

Business: Fresh Mediterranean Express, LLC

Location: Waukee, IA

Industry Contest: Hospitality/Restaurants

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It's Fresh. It's Simple. Tasty food served with a smile. Help Fresh Mediterranean Express bring the flavors of the Mediterranean to more locations in Iowa!
Business Description:
About us:

Fresh Mediterranean Express is locally owned and operated by husband and wife team, Hassan Atarmal and Jeni Betts. Jeni is an Iowa native, graduating from UNI in 2003 & 2010. Hassan grew up in a rural Berber village in Central Morocco. After living in NYC for several years, he moved to Iowa where he graduated from UNI in 2010.

The dream of owning a Mediterranean café is something Hassan and Jeni share. As a child, Hassan was always in the kitchen with his mother, learning all he could about the flavorful dishes she would prepare daily from scratch for their family. He honed these skills working in NYC at a famous local deli on the Upper East Side. Hassan & Jeni are passionate about traveling and learning about foods from all different parts of the world. This passion inspired them to open Fresh Mediterranean Express.

About the café:

Fresh Mediterranean Express brings the flavors of the Mediterranean to the Greater Des Moines area in a casual café setting. The unique kitchen and dining room layout allows customers to experience the food preparation process while enjoying the lively international music and décor.

The café offers a fresh, flavorful menu filled with foods found in the Mediterranean, including gyros, kabobs, falafel, chicken shawarma, salads, soups, and baklava. Complementing the menu are the 10 different sauce and dip choices, including two flavors of hummus all made fresh in house.

Our Mission:

We are a restaurant with a conscience. We have a unique mission: To fight the vicious cycle of illiteracy and poverty by supporting community literacy programs at home and abroad.

Growing up in a berber village in Morocco, Hassan knows firsthand the struggles of life for children in these villages, many lacking access to education. Hassan and the Fresh Mediterranean Express team are dedicated to realizing their mission of fighting illiteracy by supporting literacy programs in the United States and abroad.

The market:

The Des Moines metro is growing quickly. With high employment levels and a low cost of living, it is the perfect place for young professionals. Waukee specifically is the fastest growing city in the State of Iowa.

The concept of casual Mediterranean cafe's is rising in popularity, and Fresh Mediterranean Express is the first of it's kind in Central Iowa.

Fresh Mediterranean Express has been operating at it's current location since May 2014.
Reason for Entering:
We are excited about the opportunity to compete in Dream Big Grow Here. We believe in small business and supporting entrepreneurs in the great State of Iowa!

We're currently operating out of an 1,100 sq ft space, which is often seen with lines out the front door at lunch and on weekends. This tells us that there is a large demand for freshly prepared Mediterranean foods in Central Iowa.

We would use the grant proceeds to purchase a mobile unit, which would enable us to participate in more festivals, farmers markets, and special events - sharing our Mediterranean fare with more people in Iowa!
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