By JOE JAROSZ
April 30, 2014
KANSAS CITY, Missouri – Last weeks Northeast Kansas City Chamber of Commerce luncheon was a cultural experience.
The meal itself was held at Al Rahman Café, 2201 Lexington Ave. The café, previously known as Towfiq, has recently gone through some changes. The four brothers that own the café received some help from the neighborhood to remove the uninviting metal bars in the window and repaint the inside to a more inviting red and yellow pattern.
During the luncheon, chamber members, city officials and the café’s owners officially cut the ribbon for a the grand opening. Bakar Abdalla, one of the four brothers who own the café told the crowd of about 25 people, he and his brothers changed the name of the establishment to officially make the place theirs. But, he added, none of that would have been possibly without the community’s help to clean up the café.
“Because of the community, everyone is aware [of the café] now,” Abdalla said.
Northeast Kansas City Chamber of Commerce President Bobbi Baker-Hughes said the chamber is taking upcoming luncheons to restaurants in the Historic Northeast with healthy foods, such as Al Rahman Café, with the help from the Jackson County Healthy Business/Healthy Community Grant the chamber was recently awarded.
Martin Okpareke, volunteer and community outreach manager for the Jewish Vocational Services, also briefly spoke on the on the services provided to refugees placed in the Northeast area and around Kansas City. Okpareke was especially proud to speak at Al Rahman because Bakar and his brothers were former clients of his.
“They own several businesses in the Northeast area,” Okpareke said. “We impact the lives of people we serve with the hope that one day, they can make an impact lives as well.”
The JVS assists refugees placed in Kansas City by helping them find jobs and housing. On average, the JVS assists around 400 refugees a year. Okpareke said there is no way the JVS would be able to do what it does without the support of surrounding communities. The hospitality in the Northeast is especially noticeable, he added.
“The Northeast is a very welcoming area that supports new residents,” Okpareke said, added that plans are in the works for a community event called World Refuge Day on June 21.