New cafe 'offering a taste of the Middle East' opens in Burgess Hill

The owners of a new cafe in Burgess Hill ‘offering a taste of the Middle East’ said the town was the perfect place to start their new business venture.

Zaitoon opened in Church Walk in April, and offers homemade dishes with vegan and vegetarian options.

Diana and Rami Al-Hanakta outside their new cafe Zaitoon. Photo by Steve Robards

Diana and Rami Al-Hanakta outside their new cafe Zaitoon. Photo by Steve Robards

Behind the new business is Diana and Rami Al-Hanakta who live in Bolnore Village, Haywards Heath.

“Haywards Heath has several good businesses but the community is much tighter here,” said Diana.

“The town didn’t have a cafe that serves for all food types either – we offer more than one or two options for veggies and vegans.

“We wanted to start somewhere small where people will desire us. Bigger cities with more businesses – it is much more challenging. For us, this was the perfect place for us – Burgess Hill needs this!”

Zaitoon in Burgess Hill offers a taste of the Middle East

Zaitoon in Burgess Hill offers a taste of the Middle East

The couple have two children aged two and 11 weeks. Diana, 30, is half Russian and half Middle Eastern and before having children she worked for the United Nations in Dubai.

Rami, aged 31, is from Palestine in the Middle East, but grew up in Brighton. He also works as an aerospace engineer for Rolls Royce in Chichester.

Diana said she did not cook much until she was married. Her mother-in-law started helping her cook and she ‘loved it’.

“All the recipes come from my mother-in-law – she is behind all the cooking,” said Diana.

The couple's 1960s food van called George

The couple's 1960s food van called George

“Rami and I thought ‘this is great’ – and the food tastes so much better over here. So that’s where it all started.

“We wanted something to be proud of and we wanted to set up something with the kids. It is what our families did for us.”

Popular dishes at Zaitoon include chicken shawarma, lamb shawarma, falafel and knafeh desert.

The cafe is open from 10am to 5pm Monday to Saturday and 10am to 4pm on Sunday. People can also order from JustEat online.

The couple refurbished the cafe themselves and also have a 1960s food van called ‘George’ and plan on going to events in the district.

To find out more about Zaitoon, visit https://zaitoon.business.site.

Or follow the business on Facebook www.facebook.com/Zaitoon-2196355773917706 or Instagram @zaitoon_deli.