Marc Diab had always wanted to open a shawarma restaurant, but he never got to fulfill his dream.
He was killed in March 2009 while fighting with the Canadian Forces in Afghanistan, as a member of the Royal Canadian Dragoons regiment. He was 22 years old at the time
His parents wanted to make sure that dream didn’t just fade away.
Shortly after his death his father Hani and mother Jihan Diab moved to Petawawa and opened Madameek Restaurant, not far from CFB Petawawa.
Since that time the community and soldier from the base have embraced the restaurant and the Diab family, who immigrated to Canada from Lebanon in 2000.
As Christmas got closer, the Diabs wanted to thank the community and the troops for their support and helping them keep their son’s memory alive.
On Friday, the Diabs opened their restaurant door to hand out 500 shawarma, free of charge. Hardly a cheap endeavour — each one normally costs $7 — but it was something they felt important to do. Suppliers pitched in by donating pop and desserts, while employees gave their time for free.
“We wanted to give something back to the community, to show our appreciation,” Jihan Diab told Global News.
“We want to do this just to let everybody know that the fallen soldiers never die,” Hani Diab said. “These are heroes.”
The gesture did not go unnoticed.
“We have Remembrance Day… But, it’s just nice to come in here,” said Cpl. Katelyn Nykorak. “They have so much from the culture and they’re remembering him all the time.”
The restaurant also serves as a memorial to Marc, with his photo on the wall and his story on the restaurant’s website
“Every time I come in here, it feels honourable,” Cpl. Nykorak said.
That’s exactly how the Diabs believe their son would want it to be.
“I can see his smile from ear to ear,” Jihan Diab said. “I’m sure we were inspired by him to do this.”
The Diab’s appear to be succeeding in fulfilling their son’s dream: They recently opened up a second shop in nearby Pembroke.