CAIRO: Abou Tarek’s downtown koshary restaurant has made a major contribution to the history of koshary, not by introducing a new ingredient, but by moving koshary into the realms of cyberspace.
The man behind the idea is Tarek, the eldest son of restaurant owner Hassan Youssef, (Abou Tarek i.e. father of Tarek). Like many of his generation, Tarek is attracted to anything electronic.
“I was sitting and chatting one day with some of my friends who are web designers when the idea of creating a Web site for the restaurant popped into our heads, Tarek says, adding, “I told them what I wanted the site to look like and they designed it for me.
Knowing that this generation’s youth are Internet-oriented, the Web site has been designed to cater to them. In addition to sections on the importance of koshary and what makes Abou Tarek s koshary special, there is a chatting area, music downloads, news on the latest pop artists and sports, as well as free e-mails.
“Youth eat out more often than grown-ups and so if they find us online they might decide to come over with their family, friends or fiancés, Tarek says.
The Web site is also available in English for foreigners, although there are plans to introduce more languages to the site.
“In addition to letting Egyptian youth know about us, we also wanted people abroad to know what koshary is and to come and visit us when they are here in Egypt, Tarek tells The Daily Star Egypt, adding, “Now we have all sorts of people, both Egyptians and foreigners, visiting.
In fact, according to Tarek, a few days before the interview, the first thing a Spanish tourist did upon leaving the airport was to come over to their restaurant. “The Internet is definitely the best publicity tool one could find, Tarek says, laughing.
When Abou Tarek’s Web site, www.aboutarek.com, was first launched, all it contained was personal information about his father, how he had begun his career and what made his koshary special. “I then thought that there should be more stuff in the site so that more people could visit it, so I added a forum, a chatting space, free e-mails and songs in addition to regularly updated news, and my plan worked. We now have a lot of people visiting our site. Tarek explains.
Asked if they would mind if other restaurants imitated them, Tarek smiles and answers, “Not at all, it’s about time everyone had his own Web site.