Syrian refugee family pursues American Dream with restaurant

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A Syrian refugee family has put down roots in Terre Haute, with the opening of their Mediterranean restaurant, Kabab Grill on 3rd Street.

In 2014, Marwan Batman and his family left Syria with nothing but the clothes on their backs.

To avoid war in their homeland, the Batman’s sought refugee status in the United States.

“It was hard, I used to not speak English at all,” Marwan’s son Rakan told WTWO. “When my teacher, she used to talk to me, all that I can say is Hello my name is Rakan. That’s all that I learned.”

In Syria Marwan owned a restaurant where he cooked for the masses as head chef.

After settling down in Fishers, IN, the family made fast friends with fellow Syrian’s through food.

“My friend told me hey Marwan is a wonderful cook, you should try his food,” said family friend Costantine Albany.

Word got out that a family of Syrian decent lived in Terre Haute, which made it easier for Marwan to open a restaurant. 

“We were about to take a restaurant in Indianapolis, we live in Fishers. But we meet a guy and then he told us about Terre Haute,” said Rakan. “And he told us there is a family they’re originally from Syria, but they were born here.”

Michael Ellis took the opportunity to provide for a family who reminded him of his roots by renting out a building to the Batman’s.

“My family comes from Syria and here’s another family a hundred and some years later,” he said. “They came over and they wanna find the American dream and if we can help in anyway to make that happen, that’s what we wanna do.”

Terre Haute has four universities full of students from all over the world, now they have some place to go when they feel homesick.

“The food is just that right, it takes me home really,” said Rose-Hulman student Omar Fayoumi.

Terre Haute now has the opportunity to engage in the Syrian culture and experience the true meaning of the American Dream, a feeling that Marwan can only describe as relief.

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