A SYRIAN refugee is set to launch his own restaurant, just a year after going into business in an effort to give something back to his adopted home town.

Mouhyedin Alkhalil’s latest venture will open its doors to the public on Monday and will offer authentic Syrian cuisine from the heart of Darlington’s town centre.

The business is an extension of his street food business, Falafel Fella, which has been trading successfully at markets in and around the North-East for a year.

Mr Alkhalil set up stall less than two years after he arrived in the region via a United Nations resettlement scheme.

After being forced to flee his war-torn country, he found sanctuary in Darlington and devoted himself to learning English and working towards “giving something back” to the community that has supported him since his arrival.

On Saturday evening, he will welcome friends and supporters to Falafel Fella’s new base in Clark’s Yard for the official launch of the business.

In introducing all visitors to a taste of Syria, the 27-year-old hopes he can share with them elements of the culture he had to leave behind.

He will be offering his popular falafels and other traditional dishes, influenced by the recipes of his mother, sister and Syria’s culinary history.

Mr Alkhalil, who has spent several weeks transforming the Clark’s Yard property, said he was on the verge of seeing his dream come true and that none of it would have been possible without the support of Darlington people.

He said: “This has been hard work and I am scared and excited, I really hope it will be successful, I want it to be perfect.

“It all means so much to me, at this time last year I was just starting with my stall and now I’ve got my own small restaurant – who knows what will happen at Christmas next year.

“My family back home are so proud and happy for me that I’m doing something that people here like -my dreams are starting to make sense and without the support of Darlington people, I could not have been here, they are what keep me strong.

“I’m proud to be here and would not open anywhere else because this is my town now and these are my people.”

Mr Alkhalil also thanked Fran and Martin Wood, the couple who have welcomed him into their home, for their support.

The eatery will be open from 9am until 5pm Monday to Thursday and from 9am until 9pm Friday and Saturday.

For more information, visit FalafelFella.