The only restaurant in Petawawa offering Lebanese cuisine, Madameek, was packed with hundreds of guests on Dec. 9, as they lined up for Free Shawarma Day in memory of Trooper Marc Diab and all fallen soldiers.
Madameek’s third annual Free Shawarma Day was bigger than ever, inviting over 540 visitors to the Petawawa location and close to 400 at their Pembroke restaurant. The Diab family, owners of Madameek, gave their guests the option of not only free shawarma but also a choice of rice, potatoes, pop and dessert.
The Diab family holds this event annually in memory of their son, Marc Diab, around Christmas time to share the holiday cheer with soldiers of Garrison Petawawa.
“We want to make sure the soldiers get this greeting from us especially because they are our number one supporters,” said Fadi Diab, son-in-law and partner of owner Hani Diab.
The event gives the Diab family a chance to meet with their customers and share their and Marc’s story.
Originally from Ain-Ebel, Lebanon, Hani Diab and Jihan Falah moved with their three kids, Marc, Jessica and Maya, in 2000 in search of a better life. A lifelong passion to join the military was finally fulfilled when Marc became a citizen in June 2004. He joined the military not long after.
While posted in Petawawa with the Royal Canadian Dragoons, Marc often told his family, who was living in Mississauga at the time, he wanted them to open a Lebanese restaurant in Petawawa, telling the family the soldiers craved that type of food.
“He was so excited to have the idea of opening a restaurant in Petawawa to feed the soldiers, and he knew that all the boys loved this type of food…one of his dreams was always to have a restaurant in Petawawa,” said Fadi.
Soon after joining the military, Marc was deployed to Afghanistan.
“The whole time he was in Afghanistan we were always praying he’d come back in one piece,” recalled Fadi.
On March 8, 2009, Marc became the 112th Canadian soldier to be killed in action when a roadside bomb exploded next to the vehicle he was travelling in. He was only two weeks from returning home.
After Marc passed away, Fadi was asked by his in-laws to accompany them to Petawawa to make Marc’s dream a reality.
The family was able to open Madameek in 2010, in Marc’s honour.
“We shared with the town that our goal is to fulfill this soldier’s dream, make him happy,” noted Fadi.
Eventually in 2011, the entire family relocated and now calls Petawawa home.
The family plans to continue the tradition for years to come to honour their beloved son.