Christina Lee, Photography Editor

Syrian chandeliers, rugs and swords scatter the walls of Mamoun’s where upbeat Arabic music blends into the chatter of customers seated for late-night bites. 

Mamoun’s Falafel is a New Haven staple that offers Middle Eastern dishes such as falafel sandwiches, shawarma plates ​​and baklava. Established in New Haven in 1977, Mamoun’s Falafel is owned by Suleiman Chater, whose dedication to the restaurant reveals itself in an unwavering love for the community he feeds. 

“It’s about serving quality stuff, being consistent while doing it and always making sure the customer is happy,” Chater said. “I really like my customers. They’re totally awesome … and they treat us like family. It’s really an honor.”

But the complete history of the family-owned restaurant dates back to 1971 when Mamoun Chater, Suleiman’s uncle, founded the first store in New York as an immigrant while he was trying to support his parents. 

Encouraged by the support of a loyal customer base in New York City, Mamoun opened a second location in Connecticut six years later, now celebrating nearly five decades of service in the Elm City.

“We had a bunch of customers in the 70s go to our location in New York,” he said. “They would literally bring 200 or 300 sandwiches at a time back [to New Haven].”

Mamoun’s now has locations in New York, New Haven, Atlanta and several other cities along the East Coast. 

Since 1971, Mamoun’s has solidified itself in the New Haven restaurant scene but retains its traditional flavors and charm. Suleiman celebrates the consistency of the food they serve and cherishes the bonds they have formed with regulars who have been coming for decades. 

“I get customers from 40 years ago, coming even longer,” Suleiman said. 

Despite the generational legacy he carries on his shoulders, Suleiman declined to comment on the mark he personally hopes to leave behind. For Suleiman, the sole mission is simply “to be good to people.” 

In addition to serving food, Suleiman said he has provided support and mentorship to other New Haven chefs, like Bun Lai, a Hong Kong-born American chef and former owner of Miya’s Sushi, a now-closed sushi bar that opened in 1982 across the street from Mamoun’s.

Since childhood, Suleiman and Lai bonded over their shared experiences as children of immigrant parents in the restaurant business. Lai said that he credits his success as a chef to Suleiman. 

“He’s been a mentor, a best friend and brother to me throughout my life. Honestly, I couldn’t have survived in this business without him.” Lai said. “He’s doing it to honor that community and honor his father and his mother.” 

Students, too, told the News that they appreciate Mamoun’s Falafel, a casual quick bite that has cemented itself into the cultural memory of New Haveners. 

“Mamoun’s is more than just a place to go to when you’re hungry. It’s a place you go to with friends, with family, with lovers. It’s a place that brings you up when you’re down,” Will Miller ’26 said. 

Mamoun’s is located at 85 Howe St.