There’s a little piece of Bangladesh in Hamtramck, Detroit, USA. It’s Amar Pizza, a restaurant run by five Bangladeshi brothers. Their pizzas, many of which are a mix of Bangladeshi flavours have not only become highly popular in the locality, but have also gained attention from beyond.
In addition to the mouth watering pizzas, Amar Pizza also boasts a wide array of other food items that range from salads and burgers to biryanis.
Already featured multiple times in the print and electronic media, and with a new branch opened last year in Fraser, Roseville, it looks like the “Amar Pizza is Your Pizza” slogan is poised to go places.
In a recent interview, Ashraf Ahmed, one of the owners, shared his thoughts about the origins of Amar Pizza, their current run of success, and future plans.
As Bangladeshis in the USA, which is a country that has a mix of people from all over the world, what kinds of food did you grow up eating and making? We would love to know the background story that eventually led you and your partners to decide setting up Amar Pizza.
Our passion for pizza started during our childhood as kids growing up and eating pizza and that continued into our adulthood as we started our careers in the restaurant industry and eventually gravitated towards pizza working for large national chains. In the middle of the economic recession in 2008, there were many businesses shutting down and leaving Detroit, but we decided to take a leap of faith and open up Amar Pizza to provide high quality halal pizza infused with Bangladeshi spices and flavours to the local Muslim community.
You have some interesting pizzas in your menu, especially the dry fish (shutki) pizza, packed with Bangladeshi flavours. What factors do you consider when brainstorming a potential pizza or other items for the menu, and how do you finally arrive at a decision on whether to include a particular item in the menu or not?
We look at several factors before adding items to our menu, primarily taste, quality, and ensuring it is something that we can be proud of and aligns with our overall concept of creating a fusion of Bangladeshi and American cuisines.
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How has the response to your unique items been so far?
The response has been extremely positive. We initially started with a mostly Bangladeshi and Muslim clientele and now that has grown to expand into all ethnicities within the Detroit area. Today, we have customers from out of state and an international following. It's been a truly amazing journey over the years and we are very thankful for the support from our community.
We know that five brothers are running the restaurant. What are the benefits and challenges of having immediate family members as business partners?
We are a very close family and owning a business together has made us even closer. The primary benefit of running the business as a family is it gives us a common goal of leaving something bigger for the next generation of our family.
What are the opportunities and challenges faced by immigrant businessmen in the USA under the current administration?
There are challenges under this administration that all minorities are facing. However, we have been extremely fortunate to have our business in the Detroit Metro area which is open to minorities of all colour, race, and religion. The city has welcomed us with open arms from the beginning and the community has been very supportive of us.
What are your future plans with Amar Pizza?
We opened up our second location last year and are evaluating additional locations in 2018.
How do we Bangladeshis here in Bangladesh get a taste of your delicious pizza?
While we have not started to look into locations in Bangladesh, if the right opportunity presents itself it is something we would explore. Until then if any of our fellow countrymen are visiting the Detroit area we hope you will come in and visit us.