Izz Café on George’s Quay in Cork city is run by husband and wife team Izz and Eman Alkarajeh from Palestine. The couple spent time in Direct Provision with their four children when they first arrived in Ireland. During that time Izz undertook a course to support those seeking to set up their own business. Despite his background in computer science both he and Eman felt that there was a niche for Palestinian food in Cork. With the help of Darina Allen, they got their project off the ground and started trading in the Farmer’s Markets in Cork for about a year. They decided to open their café in 2019 based on the great feedback they got from their customers. When the Covid-19 pandemic hit they were one of the first businesses to offer free food to healthcare workers. I asked Izz why they decided to do this.
“We decided to help healthcare workers as this is part of our tradition. In Palestine we are used to living under curfew for prolonged periods because of the occupation. We are used to supporting each other through tough times. That feeling came back when the lockdown measures came in and we had to close the café last month. We thought of different ways we could help. When we decided to resume as a takeaway only outlet, we made the decision to offer free food to healthcare workers.”
They posted the offer on social media but felt that some healthcare workers might be embarrassed or hesitant to ask so they encouraged all their followers to tell their friends who work in the health service that they would be really happy to feed them before or after their shifts. They also put together some orders that were sent directly into the local hospitals as they wanted to be proactive about their offer of support.
“We looked at it as a way of giving back to the community. As Palestinians we remember Irish people would come to Palestine every year to support us and help us build schools and health centers. When we came to Ireland to claim asylum, we received a lot of support from the people here in Cork. So, we wanted to pay that back to the community.”
You can visit their website here https://izz.ie/