If Deke Zaher made a birthday wish on Wednesday, it was likely to become the biggest hummus baron in all of Canada.
With the grand opening of his store — Zaher's Small Batch, located at 12 Elgin St. — he may very well be on his way to fulfilling that goal. It's the first step in his plan to open locations across the entire country.
While the downtown storefront is new, the business itself has been developing for more than three years.
Zaher's Small Batch has been offering homemade natural and authentic hummus at various locations since it was first launched. Now that he has his own storefront, Zaher said he's excited for the future.
“It seems like Sudbury is so ready for this,” Zaher said at the grand opening. “There's a strong vegan population here, and there's just a health-conscious community that is looking for more options.”
Zaher's obsession with hummus dates back to his childhood. The tradition of Palestinian hummus has been passed down through the generations, with Zaher learning from his father, who learned from his father.
It seems Greater Sudburians with a hankering for hummus have been enjoying the fruits of Zaher's labour. Zaher said he believes people are drawn to the variety of flavours, as well as the fact hummus is good for you. In eight tablespoons of his hemp hummus, there is 18 grams of protein. Zaher said he'll be listing all of the nutrition information on his packaging.
“I've been building a solid fanbase over the past three years,” he said. “Without them, I would have been a lot more nervous opening up this store, but I'm very confident, and I know people really believe in the product.”
Zaher will focus most of his attention on his storefront for now, but will still be offering his community partnership programs with charities, schools and sports teams.
He said he wants to do “unique, cool things,” like develop a school lunch program where kids can get hummus, vegetables, water and fruit.
“I very much care about nutrition, especially for school-aged children,” he said. “I've always had a problem with sports teams selling donuts to raise funds, and that's why I'm going to be selling my own memberships, where anyone who sells a card will get $10 back, while the person buying the card gets the benefits that come with it.”
Zaher's Small Batch also offers a membership program for customers, where they get refillable squeeze bottles with their favourite hummus that can be brought back and filled at a reduced cost. More importantly, it's helping to reduce waste.
“It's a great initiative to bring people back,” he said.
Zaher unofficially opened the doors on July 26, and already business is good, he said. From that first day alone, it set a good forecast for the flow of customers he said he hopes to be see.
If all goes according to plan, the idea is to franchise Zaher's Small Batch, en route to his dream of becoming the biggest hummus baron in the country.