An ultra-cool trend materialized days after the owners of Peepo’s opened its Afrikano-focused eatery in Canton, adding to its downriver location that launched in 2011.
“People who live in Canton, Northville and Plymouth were coming up to me and saying, ‘I am so glad you opened in Canton; I was driving all the way to Taylor to get my Peepo’s,” said Mahmoud Elhassan, who co-owns the two restaurants with his brother-in-law Ali Elromh.
The love for Canton’s Peepo’s — and its mouth-watering Afrikano-themed meals — has exploded ever since.
“The reception we’ve received from this community has been beautiful,” said Elhassan, who runs the Canton location while Elromh orchestrates the Taylor site. “Our location — on Ford Rord between Lilley and Haggerty roads — is perfect because this is such a hot area for businesses.”
Afrikano seasoning is taste-enhancing
The business’s Afrikano offerings, supreme customer service and modest-sized (but dynamic) menu are what keep people coming back to the small but mighty hunger-fulfillment space.
Afrikano, Elhassan explained, is a spicy rub that is applied to customers’ choice of protein — chicken, steak, shrimp or falafel (vegetarian) — which served in a sub bun, rice bowl, as a fries or salad topping sends the flavor into the appetite-pleasing stratosphere.
Peepo’s offers appetizers, pita sandwiches packed with delicious chicken, beef and vegetarian shawarma, and giant subs and rice bowls that are guaranteed to turn your hunger into bliss.
No rush like chain fast-food joints
Unlike chain sub-themed fast-food restaurants, the food at Peepo’s is prepared with a no-rush tenderness — but it’s worth the few minutes of extra wait time.
“The secret to our success is we love cooking and we love cooking the right way,” said Elhassan. “I love it so much, I own five grills at home, so when I’m not cooking here, I’m cooking at home.”
A native of Lebanon who moved to Dearborn when he was 13, Elhassan’s life is an inspiring example of the “American Dream”.
Elhassan and Elromh worked in a variety of Dearborn restaurants when they were younger, learning the do’s and don’ts that have resulted in their sweet success.
Patience is the key
“In 2011, we decided to take a chance and open our own restaurant — but we wanted to do it outside of our Dearborn comfort zone,” Elhassan explained. “Those who are in the restaurant industry know what I mean when I say it takes patience to build your brand.
“There was so much to learn and there’s so much more to it behind the scenes than simply cooking the food. But we stuck with it and we’ve built a large and growing base of customers.”
One step Elhassan and Elromh took almost immediately after opening their Taylor restaurant was to downsize the menu.
“We had over 90 items on the menu — plus four flavors of smoothies,” Elhassan said, smiling. “We gradually started reducing the menu … it was way too busy. We wanted to focus on certain items so that we could make those to perfection for our customers. We’re down to 13 items now, which our customers tell us is perfect.”
Elhassan said Peepo’s’ two priorities are quality of food and customer service.
“You can have the best food in the world, but if your customer service is horrible, you will go out of business,” he said. “When you step in Peepo’s, you’ll be greeted by smiling employees whose No. 1 goal is to make your visit memorable.”
On a personal note, I ordered an incredibly delicious steak-and-cheese sub during a recent visit to Peepo’s that left me only one question: Why in the world didn’t I try this place sooner?
To check out Peepo’s menu, click here.
Peepo’s offers a variety of eating options, including dine-in, carry-out and catering services.
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