Bamo’s restaurant is a home for the Kurdish community

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Bamo’s Kurdish restaurant in Cornwall Street is a home for Plymouth’s Kurdish community. PlymouthLive Community Reporter Nino Robertson went to meet the owner of the Kurdish restaurant.

Upon entering the restaurant, the interior is sure to be the first thing you notice, a striking traditional Kurdish tapestry covers the walls. The material is traditionally used in Kurdistan as blankets or decorative furnishings in homes.

Owner Salah Mohammed, originally from Kurdistan, opened his establishment in 2019. He wants to create a warm atmosphere for everyone to enjoy. It is a very nice touch to have such a traditional look inside.

The name ‘Bamo’ refers to a beautiful mountain of the same name, near his hometown. Salah uses a fantastic analogy to describe the atmosphere he wants to create.

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He said, “Imagine if you were in a garden and that garden was just one flower. I don’t think that would be the best. But if you had a garden full of flowers and full of different colors, it would be more beautiful and much more inviting – that’s what I want my restaurant to be.

“I want different people to come from all walks of life and all nationalities, that’s what we’re starting to see and that makes me so happy.”

Kurdistan has its own autonomy but is located in the country of Iraq. Salah was then fleeing the regime of Saddam Hussein. He once owned restaurants back home, but now he and his wife have settled in Plymouth for 22 years.

“Where I come from is a bit like Scotland, in the sense that we have our own president, government, parliament and it has a population of 5 million people,” he said. “It’s like our own country, but it’s in another country if that makes sense.

“Back when there was war, when Saddam Hussein was in power, I had to leave. There was no reason for me to choose Plymouth as a place to live, I just had to find a place . We like it here and have settled.”

Salah has a wealth of experience in the hospitality industry, dating back over 30 years and although he loves what he does, he has found differences in the cultures of Britain and Kurdistan. If one thing is guaranteed, it’s the pride he takes in his end product.

“I think back home it’s a bit more social because people have really big families and it’s normal for us to spend a lot of time together. I liked this change because I got used to it over the years, I don’t mind that it’s less social here.

“The main thing for me is that people come here for the fun and for the food. Here we cook everything fresh and we make everything like we would at home. We also make the naan bread here in a clay oven .

“We have traditional Kurdish tea which is basically black tea, I have about 20 a day! Back home it’s a very hot country, it can sometimes reach up to 50° in temperature but still, every day, I will have tea.

“For example, even when I have a headache instead of taking a pill, I take tea and find it helps because it relaxes me.”

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