Established in 1991, Mediterranean Deli offers diverse food options from the Middle East and the Mediterranean. From humble beginnings, it has grown to become a popular destination for the Chapel Hill community, especially for those looking for authentic, yet healthy, Mediterranean cuisine.

Jamil Kadoura, the founder and owner of Mediterranean Deli, worked at various hotels in Minnesota and North Carolina and eventually became the Director of Food and Beverage at the Europa Hotel (now the Sheraton Chapel Hill Hotel). After having fallen in love with Chapel Hill, he decided to open Mediterranean Deli in 1991.

Kadoura’s experience with making and selling food goes all the way back to his youth when he worked for a falafel stand in Qalqilya in the West Bank. This became the start of his life-long passion for the food industry. Decades later, Kadoura’s restaurant on Franklin Street is teeming with visitors who wish to taste the authentic flavors of the Mediterranean. Having been open for close to thirty years, Kadoura highlighted that creativity was the key to Mediterranean Deli’s lasting success.

“You always have to be creative, and that’s the secret of Med Deli, we try to keep inventing new items, giving what the customer wants, and staying within the Mediterranean diet,” Kadoura said.

The constant experimenting and inventing of new food items and flavors have seen the restaurant’s menu expand massively from 12 items in 1991 to a current 114 items that are rotated throughout the year.

Falafels, gyros, shawarmas, chicken salad and fatayers are just some of the options that diners can choose from at Mediterranean Deli. The restaurant also has food items for vegetarians and vegans.

Kadoura said his personal favorite menu items are Ful Medammas — a dish that is similar to a bean salad — and Bandora, a Middle Eastern dish composed of chopped tomatoes with fresh jalapenos and garlic.

Using an oven bought from Jerusalem, Mediterranean Deli opened a gluten-free bakery to offer healthier food options for customers, something that Kadoura said was the highlight of his career.

When a restaurant has been open for as long as Mediterranean Deli has, it is easy for quality to decline and inconsistency to arise, but this isn’t an option for Kadoura.

“In order to maintain consistency, you have to document recipes, and every employee has to follow the recipe book, you can’t bring consistency to the table unless everyone is aware of the proper procedures,” Kadoura said.

In addition to giving people a great dining experience, Kadoura and his restaurant have been heavily involved in the community by giving to local organizations in the Chapel Hill community and national organizations like the Red Cross. This stems from his experiences as a refugee while growing up in the midst of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

“I was a refugee, and I grew up in a refugee camp. People helped us a lot and I think I carried this here when I started,” Kadoura said. “I really believe that our involvement with the wider community is what people like the most about us, more so than even the food.”

When asked to summarize what made Mediterranean Deli so beloved by his customers, Kadoura placed involvement as the greatest factor, before stating the Mediterranean food, pricing, portions, and the labeled foods that his restaurant sells as the factors, in that order.

If you’re looking to eat tasty, authentic and healthy food, visit Mediterranean Deli. The restaurant is currently open daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. at 410 W. Franklin Street in Chapel Hill and at 202 W. Haggard Ave, Ste 102 in Elon.