Nearly a year ago, things were looking grim for Amin’s Kitchen & Grocery Store. Poor ratings on health inspections combined with a lack of management had the store on the brink of foreclosure.
However, a change in ownership 10 months ago has gotten Amin’s back on track. When Hussain Kaibla took over as owner, he had one goal for Amin’s: to recreate Middle Eastern classic dishes the same way one would find them cooked on a family dinner table in Iraq.
Kaibla left Iraq in 1991 and came to the U.S. to escape the Gulf War and Saddam Hussein’s rule, he said. He recounted all the jobs he worked after having just moved to Lincoln, like being a cleaning crew member at the Cornhusker Hotel, a taxi driver and a machine operator in Seward.
Kaibla said that once he felt it was safe to go back to Iraq, he packed for his home country. Thinking he would immediately fall back into place, Kaibla sold everything he had to in order to return to his family in 2003. But he said he soon realized he preferred the extra freedoms from his time in America, where he felt more comfortable speaking his mind. This led him to a crossroads.
He said he was no longer satisfied with the life he was offered in Iraq. He knew he had the capability to make something for himself, so he decided to go back to the States. Kaibla saved enough money until he made it back to Lincoln, where he continued to work until he bought his first house.
All of that saving eventually led Kaibla to acquire more properties, one of them being Amin’s. Amin’s is his first step into the food industry, but he said that doesn’t scare him.
According to Kaibla, he only bought the kitchen and grocery store combo because of his wife’s concern for their four boys’ health. He said he figured if he could get his sons excited about traditional recipes that were healthy, the same could be done for Lincoln customers.
Some of the traditional recipes on Amin’s menu include lamb kebab, chicken and beef shawarma and lamb chop served on rice.
However, Kaibla said he is hoping to expand beyond Amin’s within the food industry. He recently purchased another plot of land on 27th Street on which he plans to build a fresh pita bakery.
While still in the early planning phase, Kaibla expressed his excitement about opening the pita bakery in the near future. He said the closest place to go for fresh pita is either in Missouri or Chicago, and he hopes to bring a special commodity to Lincoln.
Kaibla came to America and succeeded in what many only ever dream to do –– creating a new life for themselves and their families.
“I want what’s best for my sons,” he said. “My goal is to be able to leave them with something I made for them.”