Nova Scotia·Global Studies

Smorgasbord of international cuisine brings 'sense of vibrancy' to Sydney

Immigrants to Cape Breton are expanding palates and the business community.

Egyptian and Indian restaurants among many new establishments

From left to right: Ibrahim Geisa; his daughter, Rahaf Geisa; his wife, Rehab Geisa; and their family friend Summaya Fatima stand in the Geisas' new Egyptian restaurant. (Norma Jean MacPhee/CBC)

Global Studies is a CBC series exploring how the influx of international students at Cape Breton University is transforming the school and the community. 

Immigrants to Cape Breton are expanding palates and the business community.

From Indian to Egyptian to Chinese cuisine, there's no lack of restaurant choices in Sydney these days.

Ibrahim Geisa opened Khufu's Restaurant and Bakery almost two months ago with his wife, Rehab.

He first came to Sydney with their daughter last year when she started at Cape Breton University.

Today, he and Rehab serve up traditional Egyptian food at their location on Charlotte Street. 

"It's a good country," said Geisa. "And I decide to make my business here to stay."

There's a lot of options and I think it's fantastic for Cape Breton.Tom Kern , customer

Tom Kern recently popped in to grab some beef stew.

"I enjoy the food," said Kern. "It's something different and I'm always looking for something different."

Kern said the many new restaurants create a nice vibe in the area.

"I'm originally from Whitney Pier. That's one of the most multicultural places in the world because of when we had the steel plant," said Kern. 

"So now we got all different types of ethnic food. There's a lot of options and I think it's fantastic for Cape Breton."

Lovepreet Singh and Ajay Kumar are co-owners of what will soon be Swagaat, a new Indian restaurant in Sydney. (Norma Jean MacPhee/CBC)

Several blocks away in the Ashby area, Ajay Kumar and Lovepreet Singh are in the midst of renovating a building into an Indian restaurant. 

The two men are from northern India and are studying at Cape Breton University.

"We want to create jobs," said Kumar. "So we realized to do an Indian authentic restaurant with Indian authentic food so everyone can taste it."

They hope to be open by April.

There's also a new sushi spot in Sydney and several new Chinese food and grill options.

Kathleen Yurchesyn, CEO of the Cape Breton Regional Chamber of Commerce, said the growing food scene is "really encouraging."

"It brings a sense of vibrancy right now but it definitely also shows the hope and excitement of what's to come," she said.

About the Author

From people around the corner to those around the world, Norma Jean MacPhee has more than a decade of experience telling their stories on the radio, TV and online. Reach Norma Jean at norma.jean.macphee@cbc.ca