New restaurant serving lamb with a twist

It was by lucky chance that Mustafa Dghaich's mate Frank Kaadan was looking to escape the hustle and bustle of Melbourne with his wife and seven children.

Frank Kaadan and Mustafa Dghaich. Picture: ORLANDO CHIODO

Frank Kaadan and Mustafa Dghaich. Picture: ORLANDO CHIODO

Dghaich had been driving heavy machinery for a contractor at BlueScope for 10 years and was one of the workers who took a voluntary redundancy in March this year.

Meantime, in Melbourne, Kaadan had spent 25 years working at food shops, including along Lygon Street, but wanted a change.

With relatives and friend of 15 years Dghaich based in Wollongong, Kaadan decided the time was right to move the family to a quieter location and see what opportunities came by.

Kaadan made the move a year ago and three months ago opened Souva King with Dghaich.

When souvlakis peaked in popularity as convenient Greek fast food in the 1990s, they were filled with fatty, processed meats and lashings of tzatziki sauce.

But in the age of the obesity epidemic and people watching what they eat, Kaadan knew a healthy alternative was needed.

He says their Kembla Street shop makes souvlakis with 100 per cent lamb. The proof that it's pure lamb is the custom-made horizontal spit the meat is cooked on. Commonly, the meat is cooked on a vertical spit - only because to attempt to cook it horizontally would mean the processed meat would fall off.

The pair get their lamb delivered from Melbourne and marinate it in the shop.

Other healthy meals on the menu include vegetarian chickpea falafel and zucchini falafel. Even the steak sandwiches are made with scotch fillet.

"It was my great idea and his hard work," Kaadan laughs, referring to Dghaich.

"It's a lot more work obviously," Dghaich says, comparing it to his work at BlueScope.

"But it's a different kind of work. It's a different environment because there I was working with the same people every day whereas here I'm meeting different people all the time."

And Kaadan is also enjoying the change.

"It's much more slower than Melbourne," he says of Wollongong.

"The kids love the lifestyle here - when it's 22 degrees and people are wearing jumpers we're still in T-shirts and shorts and heading to the beach."

The Lebanese men said the hardest part about opening a business was finding the right location. They had looked at Crown Street, but "rent was about $600 more".

The duo has a good sense of humour and there's evidence of it through the shop, from the "Kembla in The Gong" serviettes to the "dead horse sauce" on the menu.

"We had one girl come in here one night, pretty drunk, and when she saw dead horse she cried 'but I've got a horse'," laughs Dghaich.

"The old Aussies know it though, adds Kaadan, explaining that it's Australian rhyming slang for tomato sauce.


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