Mediterranean restaurant to open inside Sioux Falls grocery store

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A Sioux Falls man has converted his convenience store and gas station into a neighborhood grocery store featuring Middle Eastern foods. It’s one of the few in the city of Sioux Falls.

And an indoor Mediterranean restaurant is set to open this month at the same location.

The neighborhood market and restaurant is located at 4309 E. 12th St, just south of East Arrowhead Parkway. It is now open, with a butcher shop and restaurant opening soon.

The store and the restaurant will be open every day from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.

The neighborhood’s first local grocery store, Neighborhood Market, is an easy walk from nearby apartments. The store owner had previously opened a similar Middle Eastern-style grocery store in Miami and wanted to offer something to his own city.

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Hayder Joe Hayyawi opened his grocery store in the past few days and has already seen it become a local and urban success.

Hayder Hayyawi, who also said his name is Hayder Joe, took over the building block, which includes a car sales shop next door, three years ago. He operated it for two years.

“It was tough for me, but now I have it exactly how I want it,” he said after months of renovations and some delays.

Hayyawi will soon open an indoor restaurant on March 25, calling it The Sahara Grill & Cuisine Halal. The city permit and product delays caused Hayyawi to open in stages.

However, since opening with some products several days ago, the new store has been a success.

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The morning coffee and tea bar offers Turkish coffee and more at the new grocery store, Neighborhood Market and Restaurant, off 12th Street and Sycamore Avenue on the east side.

“We have been busy every day. Some products sell out,” Hayyawi said. “I didn’t expect an American community to come back daily. I’m actually happy to see it, to see the American community come in too.

At first, locals were surprised by the change from a local liquor store, but excited to see it, Hayyawi said.

“Now they have everything. If they want beer they can go anywhere else,” he said.

Jaa'neen Kornegay shops at the new grocery store at 4309 E. 12th St. on March 8, 2022.

From anise cake mix to Lebanese Zataar spice mixes, the neighborhood grocery store also offers a Turkish tea and coffee bar as well as plenty of chilled staples like milk and eggs. A daily counter serves takeout pizza and other hot meals. Hookah is also coming.

“We will also be offering fresh meat to take away soon. [We’re] I’m just waiting for a cooler, plus approvals from the city and our kitchen,” Hayyawi said.

The store offers many halal food options, the food standard for Muslims. The restaurant will also be one of the few, but growing, halal options in the city.

The future Sahara Grill & Halal Kitchen site inside the grocery store at 4309 E. 12th St. Owner Hayder Joe Hayyawi is scheduled to open March 25, if supplies arrive on time.  Photograph from March 8, 2022.

Once open for sit-down and take-out, the Sahara Grill will offer shawarma, falafel, kebab, dorma and a variety of meats ranging from $5 to meals for around $25. It will also be available for delivery, Hayyawi said.

Hayyawi hopes the corner market will become a local community and Sioux Falls staple with the restaurant’s opening, albeit after some delay.

“The process takes a while and people…are excited about the restaurant,” he said. “I wanted to do what I know. I did it in Miami, Florida. I wanted to do it here.

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