By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published Feb 01, 2024 at 10:01 AM

It was Feb. 3, 2014 when Shawarma House opened its first location at 2921 N. Oakland Ave. Ten years later, the family-owned restaurant has three locations, plus an additional restaurant on the way (location to be announced).

On Feb. 3 from noon to 11 p.m., guests are invited to pay a visit to the newly renovated Oakland Avenue location and celebrate the anniversary with a day of customer appreciation. Attendees can take in the bright modern space, which has been transformed with new flooring, tables and a colorful display of featured dishes on the walls. Guests can also indulge in free shawarma sandwiches, free coffee, free desserts and special gift card giveaways all day long.

The newly remodeled interior at Shawarma HouseX

A family success story

Shawarma House is owned and operated by Bara Saed alongside his brothers Mohammad, Saleh and Adnan. The youngest of 15 children, Bara arrived in the U.S. in 2010, making his way to Milwaukee from Palestine by way of Jordan, where his family had settled. 

At the time, his brother-in-law was the owner of Amanah Food Mart, where Bara worked for three years while pursuing his degree in nursing at UW-Milwaukee. When the grocer’s chef decided to move back home, he trained Bara to assume his position. One thing led to another and Bara’s success in the kitchen led his brother Saleh to suggest that they open a restaurant on the East Side near the University.  The first Shawarma House was born.

Shawarma House on OaklandX

Establishing the restaurant was a notable move. At the time, most Middle Eastern food in the area was sold at food counters in local grocers; so Shawarma House became the first freestanding fast-casual shawarma restaurant in the city.

“The restaurant took off right away,” says Bara. “We had customers coming to the East Side from Brookfield to enjoy our food.”

The restaurant was so successful that they were able to establish a second location in Brookfield in December of 2016 and a third in Greenfield in 2018 (which they chose to sell to the owner of Peshawar in 2020). With encouragement from a friend who had moved from Milwaukee to Houston, Texas, the Saeds also established a Shawarma House in Houston last November.

“Shawarma House is different because we’ve invested in creating a restaurant where the food is crafted with care and passion,” says Bara. “Our bright, modern restaurants represent excellence and hope for the Middle East and its peoples.”

The food

“We make all of our dishes from scratch using family recipes,” notes Bara. “All of our meats are halal and we marinate them for 48 hours before cooking, giving them a flavor that’s unlike any others in the area.”

Popular dishes include chicken and beef shawarma, chicken tikka (grilled seasoned bone-in chicken), falafel and spicy chicken (pictured below).

Spicy Chicken Plate
Spicy chicken, rice, hummus, Jerusalem salad, pita

Guests can choose to enjoy their meats in wrap form or as a plate. Plates include rice, Jerusalem salad, hummus OR baba ghanouj and pita bread.  

Shawarma House sides include salads (Jerusalem, fattoush and tabouli), hummus, baba ghanouj, pickled vegetables, lentil soup, diwali (stuffed grape leaves), kibbah, falafel and fries, along with a variety of sauces.

Chicken shawarma wrap with garlic sauce, and fries (with cheese sauce).
Chicken shawarma wrap with garlic sauce, and fries (with cheese sauce).

If guests want to try something new, Bara recommends one of his favorites: Zingerize, a plate of rice topped with cubed fried chicken tenders and topped with tahini and “secret” Zinger sauce.

Shawarma House on Oakland Avenue is open daily from 11 a.m. to midnight with takeout available until 11:30 p.m. and delivery until 11 p.m.

Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.