FAIR LAWN, N.J. — Shortly after opening his new Fair Lawn deli, Mohammad "Mo" Awawdeh found himself talking to a customer that had recently completed his service in the Israeli Defense Forces.
Awawdeh, 25, was born in Palestaine and visits Israel often, so naturally, they began speaking about everything they loved about the country.
The thing is, though, it would've been an unlikely conversation had they met in the Middle East.
"If we ran into each other over there we never would've said a word to each other," said Awawdeh of Fairview. "But now that we come to a different country we have so much to talk about."
Mingling with different cultures is what Awawdeh says he enjoys most about his new job.
"I have maybe five regulars who come in almost every day who come in and we talk about which parts of [Israel] we've been to," he said.
"When people see an Arab and an Israeli they think, 'How do you talk to each other?' But in reality, we're just normal people living."
Awawdeh graduated from Bergen Community College with an Associate's in business. But having worked in diners around Bergen County for many years, including Route 4 West in Englewood and River Edge Diner, he decided the food industry was the path for him.
He jumped at the opportunity to open a place of his own when the space he's in at 14-29 River Road hit the market.
"It's not your typical deli," said Awawdeh, who has help running the place from his older twin brothers, Omar and Ali.
"It's a little bit smaller than a diner but almost the same food, just at a cheaper price.
"It's not your typical deli — the food is different."
Hot sandwiches. Burgers. Wraps. Paninis.
But of course, customers can still order a classic deli-style sandwich.
RIVER ROAD DELI AND GRILL IS LOCATED AT 14-29 RIVER ROAD IN FAIR LAWN.