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New takeaway offers taste of Middle East

Doors open: Amre Elsayed, owner of new takeaway restaurant Casablanca in Hamilton's Washington Lane

Businessman Amre Elsayed has spent decades in the restaurant business.

But now he’s struck out on his own with a new takeaway with a touch of class and a flavour of the east.

Casablanca, named after the Moroccan city, offers traditional Middle Eastern favourites like hummus and shawarma-cooked meats, as well as western dishes like pizza.

Mr Elsayed, a veteran of the hospitality industry, said: “This is the first time I don’t have a partner, the first time it’s entirely my own business.

“I thought there was a need for good prices, variety, quality food and speedy service, including one-on-one service from the chefs.”

He was speaking as lunchtime customers packed the shop, which is styled a cut above the average takeaway, with old bricks, tiles and recycled wood.

Mr Elsayed said: “I wanted a lot of recycled materials, including planks from a 100-year-old house turned into a counter and recycled broken bricks.

“It’s a takeout and casual — but I wanted it to have a nice feeling.

“People seem to respond to it — they’ve been very positive.”

The café also features bread baked on the premises and fresh local fish, as well as a natural charcoal grill.

Mr Elsayed said: “Natural charcoal is a really healthy way of cooking and the flavour is really good.

“The fish we serve is absolutely fresh — we never use frozen fish and the bread is a big difference. There are no chemicals, colours or preservatives in it.”

“I didn’t want to penalise people just because they do takeaway by not having an à la carte menu. I wanted to give them a touch of class.

“You see that in Europe and North America — why not have that same sort of ambience in Bermuda?”

Mr Elsayed, originally from Egypt, started his Bermuda career at the former Sonesta Beach Hotel in the 1980s and later started Café Cairo with businessman Frank Arnold and worked at the Grand Café in Hamilton before opening Casablanca.

Mr Elsayed said: “A lot of people thought I was taking a big risk — I took the risk, did the renovations and gutted the whole building. I started from scratch.”

He added: “We haven’t advertised or anything, but it’s been extremely busy since we opened on Monday and it’s getting busier every day.”

The building — originally two shops, now knocked into one, also features a flat roof, which Mr Elsayed plans to turn into a stylish terrace dining area.

He said: “It will be very hip — like something in New York.”