What: Green Olives Cafe
A film by: Documentarian Travis O’Challaghan
Editor’s Note: NolaVie partners with students at UNO professor László Zsolt Fülöp, pairing them with artists, non-profits, environmental groups, and cultural entities to facilitate a live curriculum that results in a short documentary. In this video, Travis O’Challaghan explores the history and rising popularity of Green Olives Cafe located in New Orleans, Louisiana. He interviews the owner, Hilmi, and explains his journey to opening the successful middle eastern restaurant on Maple Street. Travis demonstrates that even with the challenges of the pandemic, Green Olives Cafe continues to succeed and make a positive impact on New Orleans.
[Read the full transcript of the video below]
New Orleans, Louisiana, whether you call it the Crescent City or the Big Easy, it’s no secret that this city knows how to bring on the heat, especially in the kitchen. It doesn’t take much for one to become immersed in a world of extraordinary smells and exquisite taste with hundreds of restaurants throughout this beautiful city serving up their own renditions of traditional New Orleans cuisine. Even though New Orleans cuisine is wonderful, there are still several options of new, fun, and exciting eats all over the city. New Orleans is a melting pot full of rich cultures from across the globe and with each culture comes its foods.
One of these many restaurants is quite new to the city having opened just a year ago: Green Olives Cafe located at 7724 Maple Street.
Although this restaurant is new to the city, Hilmi, the cafe’s owner, is not. Hilmi is Palestinian, and he moved to New Orleans in 1994. Before leaving the Middle East he ran a restaurant in Central Jerusalem in 2006. Helmi opened Pyramids Cafe on Calhoun Street and sold it to his cousin in 2015 so he could care for his mother.
Fast forward a few years, his mother is doing well, and he is ready to be back in the restaurant business. Now that he’s back in business, Helmi has old customers finding their way back to him and new ones becoming regulars.
Helmi is confident he makes the best hummus in the city and after tasting it myself, I believe him. He says it’s all about the quality of ingredients. He knows what’s good and he cannot be fooled when it comes to Middle Eastern food. Opening a restaurant in the middle of a pandemic has had its challenges but Helmi rests easy knowing that his food speaks for itself and that when someone comes in for the first time it certainly won’t be their last.
If you’re looking for a place where the service is good and the food is great, look no further than Green Olives Cafe.