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AliBaba brings Turkish flavor to Little Five Points

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AliBaba brings Turkish flavor to Little Five Points

AliBaba shares affordable ethnic food with Atlanta residents.

AliBaba shares affordable ethnic food with Atlanta residents.

Nora Ball

AliBaba shares affordable ethnic food with Atlanta residents.

Nora Ball

Nora Ball

AliBaba shares affordable ethnic food with Atlanta residents.

Nora Ball

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The feeling of home welcomes anyone who walks through AliBaba’s doors whether someone is seeking shelter from rain or picking up food. The restaurant itself is simple: to one side is the kitchen and to the other a doorway which leads to a seating area. However, the homey feeling doesn’t come from these factors but from the hospitality shown to customers.

“I don’t see you as a customer per se, I see you as a guest,” says Fevzi, an owner of Alibaba. “In our culture you don’t consider people just a customer. If you come in, you are my guest. And as a guest my duty is to make sure that you are happy or that you are having a good time. No matter if you order a sandwich or just order a soda, it doesn’t matter to me you are my guest, so I will act and treat you accordingly to that.”

The name AliBaba comes from Fevzi’s home, Turkey, and has two aspects: Baba which means Brother or Uncle and Ali which is a name. In fact it’s a family owned business with two locations in Little Five Points and Downtown. The restaurant has been in Little Five for 11 years, but the building has been there for more.

“It was a decrepit building, the comments we got from other people were ‘I think I’d tear this thing down’, but we kept it from being torn down,” says Don Bender, an owner of the AliBaba building.

AliBaba, because it’s remained in Little Five, has experienced the changing culture of the area. When Fevzi first came to Little Five, there were no other ethnic restaurants, yet Fevzi saw the area as a chance for his restaurant.

“It was an opportunity when you look at the demographics, and you look at the people around it,” Fevzi says. “It was an artistic area people tended to be creative and tended to be also people who enjoy Mediterranean food.”

AliBaba not only preserves the Turkish culture in an urban area, but it also gives an affordable option and is a perfect restaurant for people coming home from work who need to pick something up for dinner or just want some food. When Alyssa Baker walks in for the first time, on her way home from work, she looks at the menu and is surprised by the choices.

“I appreciate the vegan choice,” Baker says. “You get tired of all the same vegan food.”

Little 5’s restaurants are changing, not only to accommodate modern life styles and bring more culture to the Little 5 area, but there are also ethnic restaurants having to move locations. Most recently was an African restaurant named Kimi’s. Bender says there are two main problems.

“Disinterested property owners is one problem, and I say that meaning that’s not across the board… and then the other big one is that we have a large dysfunctional community,” Bender says. “And we’re trying to respond in a way that is consistent with our decision as a whole whether to just tolerate it on one hand, and/or drive [the homeless] out on the other.”

Despite challenges AliBaba remains in the changing community. It continues to bring middle eastern culture to the Little 5 Points area both in the food it serves and its hospitality.

“It’s a family based restaurant, so it’s not so much about turning it into a franchise or whatever,” Fevzi says. “It’s about enjoying providing something that you like, so if I decide to open a third location or whatever the case may be, you will enjoy yourself.”

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AliBaba brings Turkish flavor to Little Five Points