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Squareup.com Shines Worldwide Spotlight on Immigrant-Owned Yassin's Falafel 

Yassin Falafel film premiere
On Thursday morning, approximately 45,000 viewers watched the online broadcast of the first short film from Square, the digital credit card processing company, as it was happening live before an audience in downtown Knoxville. The event’s host was also the documentary’s subject: Yassin Terou, owner of Yassin’s Falafel House on the corner of Walnut and Clinch, across from Lawson McGhee Library.

Right there in the restaurant, a beaming Yassin sat next to Square and Twitter founder Jack Dorsey. And there they were again, on the big-screen monitor in the corner of the restaurant. And there they were again, animated on the screens of the myriad smart phones held by assembled guests. It was a uniquely 21st Century tech moment, to be sure.

Yassin tells his story in the eight-and-a-half minute film, which was shot over Thanksgiving weekend. He arrived in Knoxville in 2011, fleeing the political turmoil and violence in his native Syria. He found a supportive community at his mosque and started selling falafel sandwiches—20 at a time—at the mosque on Fridays. With support from Knoxville native Nadeem Saddiqi, an imam at his mosque, Yassin’s Falafel House opened in the Walnut Building in late summer 2014.

Yassin’s falafel sandwiches, chicken shawarma and baklava earned early raves among the downtown lunch crowd, and its reputation soon spread beyond downtown. The restaurant has 235 5-star reviews on its Facebook page, 62 5-star reviews on Yelp, and 39 ratings of “Excellent” on TripAdvisor.com.

“Since he opened his downtown Falafel House, Yassin Terou has provided delicious food and a warm, welcoming place for everyone," Mayor Madeline Rogero said." He has quickly become a local fixture, not only because of his amazing falafels and tahini sauce, but because of his obvious love for our entire community. He is a wonderful example of the invaluable contributions made to Knoxville by our immigrant and refugee populations, and a great American success story. Congratulations, Yassin, on this well-earned recognition! Thank you for everything you do for Knoxville.”

Once the film concluded, the cameras turned once again to Jack Dorsey, who asked Yassin what advice he would give to other small-business owners.

“Be who you are,” he said. “Treat everyone with respect and love, and you will get it back.”

“What would you like to say to the people of Knoxville?” Jack asked.

“Thank you for adopting me,” said Yassin. “I am a son of Knoxville.” The crowd cheered. 

Yassin being interviewed

Posted by ptravis On 26 January, 2017 at 2:57 PM