“I chose the restaurant to take something to the people outside the country – to show what we eat, how we live, what culture is– just to share how we love,” says Tesfaye Alibe, owner of the Ajora Falls Ethiopian restaurant.
Ajora Falls sits on N. 27th St., bookended by an Arabic grocery market and Game Day Cutz barber shop. Here Alibe, a teacher and principal from Ethiopia, continues to educate the community about his homeland. Alibe provides more than a savory meal; he gives guests a full cultural experience.
Drinking traditional Ethiopian tea with Rachel and me, Alibe took a break from the kitchen at the back of his restaurant. Laughing, he told us about the couples that came into Ajora Falls on Valentine’s Day. Apparently, they were proud they didn’t spill any food when they fed each other, and Alibe was proud they chose his restaurant as a place to express their love.
“I see the love of people. They come with big hearts. They eat with their fingers whether they knew how to or not. They show respect to others’ culture,” he shared.
Yes, if you venture down to 313 N. 27th, you will be encouraged (though not required) to eat with your hands and share a platter with the friends you bring along. Alibe explained that Ethiopians eat together on the same platter out of love. How can you ignore someone when you share the same plate? Or, when you feed her?
“We share and open our hearts to others,” Alibe said through his smile.
Alibe has his masters in education and was a principal of and teacher in Adventist schools in Ethiopia for several years. However, since coming to Lincoln in 1997, he says he hasn’t used his education much. This is where we disagree. After three years of opening the doors to Ajora Falls, Alibe has made an educational impact on his community. He is teaching us about his fascinating country and about the unconditional love of Jesus.
Although he is technically closed on Saturdays, Alibe says that he gets calls from people requesting that he open in the evening. He graciously obliges and often opens the restaurant after seven o’clock.
Although Alibe doesn’t do much advertising, people in the community help with that and show him where to post ads. News of his delicious food spreads by word of mouth too.
It’s people like Allison Landry, senior nursing student, who try his food once and then bring others along for the experience. “Ajora Falls is one of my favorite restaurants in Lincoln. I love eating with my hands, the injera, and the great times I’ve had with friends there,” she commented. Landry was the one who introduced me to Ajora Falls and I’m so glad she did.
Head on down to north 27th and check out this terrific little eatery. You won’t be disappointed. Talk with Alibe, drink some tea, feed each other, join the community of learners.
Become one of the customers Alibe speaks about when he says, “They eat, they learn, they show love.”
Amanda Ashburn is a senior studying english language arts education.