Why this Ottawa restaurant is open at night

An Ottawa family decided to extend their restaurant hours after dusk until just before dawn – a move inspired by the home, allowing fasting Muslims across the city to enjoy the community whole.

“In Lebanon, our country, during Ramadan, all restaurants open at night,” said Jad Al Bardan, manager of Phynicia, a Lebanese restaurant in Barrhaven. “So we just said, we should try.”

“My country, during Ramadan, a lot of people are on the street,” says Firass Al Bardan, Jad’s dad and restaurant owner, speaking English and Arabic.

April 1 marked the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic that the Muslim community in Ottawa can celebrate Ramadan in person, as most health measures have now been lifted.

Al Bardan shows a photo of what the restaurant looks like in the middle of the night, when it is open for those breaking the fast during Ramadan. (Hallie Cotnam/CBC)

Observe that Muslims wake up in the wee hours to eat a pre-dawn meal called Suhoor, before beginning a day of fasting from sunrise to sunset. Most families break their fast at home in the middle of the night, but the Al Bardans say there are families who will join them in Phynicia – from children to elders.

The restaurant opened in December 2020, during the pandemic. This year is the first time it has changed its hours from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m., then reopened again from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., a recommendation made by customers.

The decision was met with a lot of positive feedback from the community, Jad said.

Over the past few years, Jad said he learned a lot from his father and can now bake the dough used for the pastries and pies they serve.

“Recipes have passed down the generations, as his father taught him, and he taught me even though I’m going to college,” said Jad, a biomedical science student at the University of Ottawa.

“He’s always like, I should know the basic stuff and I should know how to run the business in case, you know, something happens.”

Jad says he learned a family recipe for dough, passed down from his grandfather. (Hallie Cotnam/CBC)

Jad said the Arab community has grown, especially in the suburbs of Barrhaven.

That’s why the family brings in ingredients and machinery from Lebanon.

“We shipped it like a big container,” Jad said. “Some of the things we can’t find here.”

Firass said he was “very happy” to see the restaurant full at 1 a.m.

Ottawa morning6:06Local restaurant opens before dawn for Ramadan

The local Lebanese restaurant opens in the wee hours so Muslim families can enjoy a light meal, known as suhoor, before their fast begins at dawn. 6:06

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