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From Lebanon, to Taber, to Southwest Tourism Restaurant of the Year

With hard work and determination, a Taber man has made the most of his opportunity after making the long journey to Canada.

Ray Jaber and his brother Russ emigrated from Lebanon when they were 17 years old.

“There’s no better place than Canada for me to leave Lebanon for,” Jaber said. “And it’s been home ever since.”

Ray’s restaurant in the southern Alberta town of Taber, the Mediterranean Grill, recently received the Restaurant of the Year award in the Southwest Tourism Awards.

“It’s amazing when your hard work pays off and when you give, you get,” Jaber said. “It’s all about our employees working with one heart.”

Jaber’s brother opened the Mediterranean Grill seven years ago and Ray has taken over the last year-and-a-half.

When you walk into the Grill, you’re almost always met with a smile and a “Hello.” It’s a sign of kindness and respect Jaber learned from his father, who owns a restaurant in Lebanon.

“You see your dad greeting everybody by name and sometimes with a big hug,” Jaber said with a smile. “Over there, they take it a little bit further.”

For a boy that grew up helping his parents at their family restaurant, the Mediterranean Grill has been a perfect fit. Jaber says he and his brother brought the family recipes with them and all he has to do to think of home is get to work in the kitchen.

“There’s a few times where you’re making a salad and it just reminds you of, you know, mom used to put it in this bowl,” Jaber said.

Years later, after making the over 9,000-kilometre journey, Ray knows he and his brother’s hard work has paid off.

“We had the heart, we had the will and we did it,” Jaber said. “And our hearts are full of pride right now.”

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