ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Renowned Kurdish-German rapper and entrepreneur Xatar plans to franchise his newly-established kofta restaurant, aiming for multiple locations in Germany and elsewhere, including the Kurdistan Region.
Giwar Hajabi, known to many by his stage name Xatar, opened Haval Grill in Germany’s Bonne on July 3.
The establishment, which serves Kurdish kofta and yoghurt drink (“mastaw” in Kurdish), has had queues of people waiting for their turn to taste Xatar’s new brand since its opening.
“We will have it in Cologne, Berlin, Hamburg, Stuttgart, and elsewhere as franchises. We will make it grow in Germany. Inshallah, we will come to Kurdistan’s Erbil and Sulaimani as well after the coronavirus ends,” he told Rudaw on Friday.
On July 16, he claimed that “there is high demand for Haval Grill throughout Germany and elsewhere like Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg and Istanbul,” announcing that he would welcome tenders from people who want to open franchises of the restaurant throughout the world.
Born in 1981 to a Kurdish family in Iran’s Sanandaj city, Xatar and his family fled to what is now the Kurdistan Region. Like many other Kurds in Iraq, he and his family were tortured and imprisoned by Saddam Hussein’s regime, Xatar told Rudaw, adding that he himself was imprisoned in Iraq for three months.
Migrating to Germany, Hajabi began using the nickname Xatar, which is an Arabic term for “dangerous” using Kurdish spelling. He began rapping and achieved relative fame in 2012 after releasing his second album Nr.415.
Since its opening, many, including German social media figures, have visited the restaurant to take a photo or video with the rapper and post it online, leading to an influx of customers. The restaurant’s chef told Rudaw that more than a thousand people eat their kofta every day.
“We sell between 1,000-1,500 kofta every day … The visitors are very happy and they say that the food is new to them. Everywhere sells doner but we have made something new,” chef Mazloum Heval said.
Xatar says he tries not to disappoint his fans that travel from far to see him.
“I am glad to hear that some people come from distant areas like Berlin, Austria and Switzerland. My friend, [chef] Mazloum, always gives me a phone call, saying that someone has come from Austria and wants to see you. So I come here to see them,” he said.
He added that he has brought fame to the word “Haval,” which is the Kurdish word for “friend.”
Borcu is one of Xatar’s fans who visited the grill to see the rapper and taste his brand. “I am very glad for the opening of this brand. I have come here to try the food and enjoy it,” she told Rudaw.
The entrepreneur is also the founder and owner of a number of other brands, including Alles oder Nix Records and Groove Attack TraX.
Additional reporting by Aalla Shaly from Germany