Food & Dining, spotlight

Brothers Khalayleh Open Ice Cream Shop in Madaba

Earlier this year, Mr. Omer Khalayleh was looking for investment opportunities when one day he found a listing online, advertising a food retail space for lease in Madaba. After a deep conversation with Mr. Moamer, the brothers decided to contact the owner. The owner and the brothers were happy and satisfied with the negotiation, and by the end of the week a contract had been signed with the lawyer for the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George in Madaba, the owner of the building. On Sunday, September 1, a warm and sunny day, as Messrs. Omer and Moamer were beginning a new year at King’s Academy, their storefront, too, opened its doors to customers: the sign said Seven Brothers.

Seven Brothers, an ice cream shop and café founded and managed by the Khalaylehs, serves nine flavors of ice cream, which they rotate periodically in order to determine demand and answer the question, ‘Which flavor is more popular?’ Milkshakes are also available in each ice cream flavor, to gauge popularity. In order to keep the store open while he works at his day job in the Admissions Office at King’s Academy, Mr. Omer employs a staff of one in the café right now: a local man named Mahdi who was recommended to Mr. Omer by an employee of King’s Academy when a ‘help wanted’ ad did not produce any results. Mr. Omer happily decided to hire Mahdi: “I want to help the local people. A lot of people are hiring Syrian people because their labor costs are cheaper than the locals. I wish I could help them,” said the proprietor.

The café hopes to support more local workers and artisans in the near future, such as a baker and a barista, as they expand their offerings to include coffee, tea, and desserts: Mr. Omer has already made arrangements with a local woman who will supply the café with homemade pastries. Also, King’s Academy students are welcome to be an employee during the vacations. Mr. Omer is eager to hire the students and give them a great experience of working. AY students are encouraged to visit the café in their excursions to Madaba, and student artists who aspire to display their artwork are also wanted.

With Mr. Omer as our guide, The Rexonian was given a tour of Seven Brothers. We walked around the corner from Darna onto a quiet street, and found that the café already had a customer: King’s Academy student Juliana Kaldany, a Madaba native. (In fact, she lives in the very neighborhood where Seven Brothers is located.) She was ordering an ice-cream with her father, and we surprised her with our presence and subsequent request for an interview. “Hilarious situation,” she said. She congratulated Mr. Omer for opening the shop, and added ‘funny’, for her personal opinion to the café. After ordering a cup of oreo ice cream, she evaluated the taste. “This oreo ice cream is different…it’s cool. It enlightens me!” said Juliana. “Today is my father’s birthday (Happy Birthday). He doesn’t like ice cream, but I think this ice cream can be his birthday present. It can be a turning point in his life!”

As we climbed a steep flight of stairs, Mr. Omer started talking about the decor of Seven Brothers. The interior is clean and unadorned, as the renovations haven’t yet been completed, especially the upstairs. The unique exception and highlight of the interior is the use of Mason jars as light fixtures hanging from the ceiling. This inspired detail was designed by Ms. Joanna, of the arts faculty at King’s Academy, and imported from the U.S. The jars were awesome in their creative and unexpected location, with a sophisticated design that contrasted well with the natural wood counter and the freshly-painted walls.

Mr. Omer was very appreciative of Ms. Joanna’s work in designing the aesthetic of the café. The staircase will be decorated with childhood photos of the seven Khalayleh brothers, like in a stereotypical American house. The second floor has some tables and one long bar where people can sit and enjoy their ice cream, desserts, coffee, or other beverages if the tables outside on the patio are taken, or when the weather cools down. Both a refrigerator and espresso machine have just been installed, and Mr. Omer is also working on installing a WiFi connection for the customers. The café will look even better once the interior design is completely finished, and everyone is eagerly anticipating that day.

Unfortunately, King’s students can’t yet order any desserts with their student ID Card, as there is no system ready for that. However, loyalty cards are going to be made: buy seven ice cream cones, get one for free. The café does offer delivery to campus, and three lucky houses have already had an ice cream feed from Seven Brothers: just connect to KAnet, access the Madaba directory, and find Seven Brothers. The list also links to their Facebook homepage.

As of now, only one size of ice cream cup is served: one and a half scoops. Cones are also available. The ice cream is produced by the company Najmeh, a well-known supplier in Amman. Mr. Omer tried all the ice cream companies’ products before contracting with Najmeh. According to him, Najmeh has best combination of quality, flavor, and cost in their ice creams.
Rexonian Campus Editor Xu Zhaoying, enjoying a strawberry ice cream, repeated the phrase omg several times, and then said, “This is the best strawberry [ice cream] I’ve ever had! This place is going to be famous…I don’t need to go to Pinkberry now.” After trying an oreo milkshake, she added, “It’s not too sweet either!” Indeed, Seven Brothers does not add sugar to their milkshakes, letting the pure flavor of the ice cream speak for itself.

The Khalaylehs are always welcoming people and ready to serve the best desserts. Can Seven Brothers be the Starbucks or Pinkberry of Madaba, as Juliana and Xu suggested? The answer lies at the bottom of a cone of strawberry ice cream.