FISHERS — As one of few East African establishments in the Indianapolis-area, "St. Yared's Ethiopian Cuisine and Coffeehaus" prides itself in not just sharing its food, but also its culture with the community.
"We like to think of ourselves as a cultural landmark," Haile Abebe, a microbiologist and co-owner of St. Yared's, said.
St. Yared's is proud to be the first and only Ethiopian restaurant in Fishers, first opening its doors in 2013. The restaurant and coffee house, at 11210 Fall Creek Road, boasts with exquisite decor and historical embellishments among its walls.
Pre-COVID-19, it wouldn't have been strange to see tours throughout the restaurant, coffee ceremonies being held, and Abebe coming up to your table to encourage you in physically feeding your partner.
"Even classrooms come here, and we introduce them to Ethiopian dining, history, culture, the coffee ceremony," Abebe said. "There's a lot of history that the world doesn't know, but when you come here, we actually introduce them to the whole culture and the whole dining etiquette."
Abebe's wife, Etenesh Abebe, is the core of the restaurant — the woman who makes it all work, Abebe said.
Abebe, on the other hand, is the guy who, because of a language barrier, gives the tours, talks, and introduces patrons to eating "like an Ethiopian."
"I'm really just the spokesperson," Abebe said, laughing. "My wife works hard and does it all."
Business, much like many other establishments across the globe, is not what it used to be for the Abebe's.
"People used to greet with hugs and just laughter, you know. We can't do that anymore. Just the fact that the door is not open, and you can't come in and sit down and enjoy the coffee," Abebe said. "And our place is really beautiful. People used to sit here and read, work, have discussions, and the fact that can't happen is just so unusual."
"Something so tiny you can barely see it with a microscope has brought everyone to a standstill," Abebe said.
The coronavirus pandemic has impacted the Abebe's financially but has more so effected them by way of their social heart, which was used to sharing space with the community.
"We miss having the guests here. Many of them are like family," Abebe said. "That human touch, that contact, that discussion, that celebration is not there... We can't sit together and speak."
It's been six months since COVID-19 swept away the main streets of our lives, and for half a year, the Abebe's have closed off its rituals to the community.
Although many eateries, coffee shops, and places of business have opened back up to the public, the Abebe's have chosen to remain closed.
For Abebe, opening up to indoor dining right now is not an option. And although it's less than subpar for their business, serving in the form of to-go food and coffee will suffice.
"There is a lot of caring and love in this critical time, and we do see it here. We do appreciate it so much! People are really doing their best to help keep us going," Abebe said, giving thanks to the community for thinking of their restaurant at this time.
For now, Abebe continues to follow all of the significant health journals to guide his general consensus on opening. And for him, now is not an adequate time to open up his space.
"I'm just going to wait month-by-month ... it's quite possible we will only do curbside for the rest of the year," Abebe said.
For now, the Abebe's are enjoying more quality time together and continue to look forward to one day soon sharing their culture with the community.