As published in The Naracoorte Herald.
Written by Amy Maynard.
Photo: Pearl Indian: Hafeezullah “Hafeez” Haidari has been rewarded for his hard work with state award nominations.
Hafeezulla “Hafeez” Haidari is having a moment – not only has the Pearl Indian proprietor been nominated for two state awards for excellence in business, but he’s also planning a new restaurant in Penola.
As reported in the Herald, Hafeez is a Regional Showcase People’s Choice Award finalist. He will be at a presentation dinner held at Tailem Bend on October 26.
But he has also been nominated for a South Australian Community Achievement Award in customer service, and is a semi-finalist. On November 2 Hafeez will be at a gala dinner in Adelaide’s Hilton Hotel’s Grand Ballroom, hosted by Channel Seven’s Jessica Adamson.
“He’s just an inspiration to others in the region,” Naracoorte’s Migrant Resource Centre Coordinator Jenny Stirling said.
“What we speak about at the centre is reciprocity, about supporting each other in the community.
“The Hazara (Hafeez’s ethnicity) also have a strong pride in their culture.”
In Hafeez’s restaurant, there’s many symbols that represent his Afghani heritage, as well as multiple training certificates. Jenny and the Naracoorte Lucindale Mayor, Erika Vickery, joke with him that he will soon need a wall for all of his awards.
“The Council has no say in bringing in migrants,” mayor Vickery said.
“They come here because they see that they can make a home here. They can support their own community, as well as the wider community.”
As the Herald spoke with Hafeez on Friday, he had prepared a free lunch for workers who had been labouring on Robertson Street. When the workers strolled in, they looked a bit perplexed at what was, literally, a free lunch. But they soon relaxed as Hafeez encouraged them to eat, directing them to a delicious buffet he had prepared.
Hafeez is famous in Naracoorte for his Indian cuisine, but in his new venture in Penola, he’s showcasing his skills in Afghan cuisine.
Or more specifically, Afghan barbecue.
“Meat and vegetables, cooked over charcoal,” Hafeez enthused.
“The flavours pair well with the wine.”
His new restaurant will be called Continental Australia, and will be where the Bushman’s Inn is currently. The official opening will be on November 5, with many guests from local government, business, and tourism invited.
Before the workers return outside, they insist on having a photo with Hafeez, who gave them lunch for no other reason than because he wanted to. They all grin from ear to ear as the camera flashes, and then get back to work.