Restaurant spells out Kurdish hopes for president-elect
The newest enterprise bearing Donald Trump’s name is not a five-star hotel or an exclusive golf club. It is a restaurant in northern Iraq serving fire-roasted carp for $10 a kilo which the United States president-elect probably doesn’t even know exists.
Trump Fish, whose logo features the businessmanturned-politician’s distinctive yellow mane, opened about two weeks ago in the Kurdish city of Duhok, an hour’s drive from the latest battle against Islamic State militants in Mosul.
Owner Nedyar Zawity says he registered the Trump name months ago with Kurdish authorities. The 31-year-old entrepreneur insists the branding is more about turning a profit than endorsing politics, but he likes Trump’s strong personality and reputation as a successful businessman.
Above all, he appreciates the president-elect’s promise to ramp up support to the Kurds and their peshmerga fighters, a sensitive proposition in a country where competing pro-government forces vie for Western backing.
“I personally love Trump for this,” Zawity said. “The name Trump is beloved in Kurdistan.”
The Kurds, oppressed under successive Arab governments in Iraq, are perhaps the biggest victors of the new order born out of the US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003.
While Iraqi Arabs further south have been gripped by sectarian conflict for more than a decade, Kurdistan remained relatively safe, enjoyed an economic boom and slowly developed its autonomy.
Trump Fish, located between an appliance shop
I personally love Trump for this. The name Trump is beloved in Kurdistan.” Nedyar Zawity, owner of the Trump Fish restaurant in northern Iraq
and a laundromat, has not yet turned a profit, according to Zawity, who runs the eatery with his three brothers.
The restaurant offers just one dish: masgouf, a grilled fish farmed in local rivers and seasoned with olive oil, pepper, lemon and spices.
The Trump name has helped attract customers, according to Zawity, including Westerners who say they don’t necessarily support the Republican figure but dine here for novelty’s sake.
“He is an American, maybe he is not my favorite, but he is still American. So I’m happy to try a restaurant with an American name with Kurdish-Iraqi food,” said David Hirsch, a librarian at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Yet it has also garnered enmity from some quarters, including online critics who accuse Zawity of being a US or Israeli agent and have sent him threats.
Some customers upset with Trump’s campaign pledge to impose a temporary ban on Muslims entering the US have boycotted the restaurant, he said.
However, Zawity hopes to take his Trump caricature logo to the US and open another restaurant there. “Give me a visa and I will go tomorrow,” he said.