May 10, 2011 By Christian Murray
The April closing of El Shater, the Lebanese store that was located at the corner of 43rd Ave. and 43rd Street, has proved to be a real boon for Sunnyside residents who love Middle Eastern food.
Two Lebanese stores/restaurants have emerged in Sunnyside following the closing of the family-run business. Both stores are a little over a block from one another.
Mehdi Osman, one of the brothers who had a stake in El Shater, said earlier this month that he is remaining in the original El Shater location and establishing a new Lebanese store/restaurant by the name of Habibi, which is Arabic for “my friend.” It is expected to open in June and will be fully renovated both inside and out. (see previous story)
Meanwhile, Ahmad Osman, Mehdi’s older brother and the founder of El Shater, has just signed a lease to open a store/restaurant on Queens Blvd (between 43rd and 44th). He originally planned to move to Astoria but that deal fell through.
Ahmad’s store, which will be named “Souk El Shater”, will be similar to the original El Shater, but more modern. It will feature fresh-cut meats, a gyro machine and grill. The store will sell falafel sandwiches, hummus, and other Lebanese treats.
Ahmad, who has lived in Sunnyside for more than two decades, said the neighborhood is big enough to support both Lebanese stores. He said that there are already Turkish restaurants in Sunnyside that offer similar products—so competition already exists.
Souk El Shater, which is expected to open in July, will be decorated with paintings of Lebanese tourist sites.