Lebanon: Harb deli

Planet Berlin: Oriental delicacies

Family business

Adib Harb came to West Berlin from Lebanon in 1967. In 1984, he opened his first-of-a-kind store on Potsdamerstrasse, which at the time mainly sold ingredients for Lebanese cuisine. While the founder has since withdrawn from the daily running of the business that is largely handled by his children, Adib Habib can still be found most days in the store.

Planet Berlin: Oriental delicacies

Wide assortment

The offer has steadily expanded over the years and decades. Today at Harb, customers can purchase Levantine food staples such as stuffed grape leaves, hummus or tabbouleh, but also crockery, cosmetics such as Aleppo soap, lamps, chess boards and crafts. Shishas also form part of the ever-expanding range.

Planet Berlin: Oriental delicacies

Ancient wine culture

The Harb gourmet grocery store also attaches great importance to its selection of red, white and rosé wines sourced from Lebanon's award-winning Château Ksara winery, which was founded in 1857 and is the oldest in the country. Adib Harb raves about his homeland as one of the oldest wine-growing regions in the world.

Planet Berlin: Oriental delicacies

Food and culture

For over 35 years, Adib Harb has succeeded in helping educate Berliners about the virtues of Lebanese food and culture. Today, few can resist the store's deli classics, including sweet baklava pastry, freshly ground coffee with cardamom, or marmalade made of orange blossom.

In 1984, Adib Harb opened the first Lebanese delicatessen in Germany selling oriental specialties. In his shop in Tiergarten you will find humus and spices, as well as middle eastern cosmetics and even chess boards.

When Adib Harb opened his Lebanese delicatessen on the busy Potsdamer Strasse back in 1984, most Berliners had never even heard of hummus and grape leaves, tahini, or tabbouleh. "We were Germany's first Lebanese delicatessen," says Adid Harb. "And we have made a massive contribution when it comes to educating the public about Lebanese cuisine."

For practical reasons, most of the products were sold unpackaged because spices, dried fruits, and legumes were delivered in large sacks. Without knowing it, Adid Harb was ahead of his time as far back as the 1980s. "We had to build a lot ourselves – the containers for the products and even the scoops," explains Adid Harb, folding his hands and leaning back into a large executive chair situated at the back of the shop.

When he starts talking about Lebanon – swimming in the sea down at the coast and skiing up in the mountains – those hands come alive in expressive gesticulation. And then there is the wine. "Lebanon is home to the world's oldest vineyards," says Adid Harb.

Lebanon: Harb - Move your cursor or finger for the 360° view

Meeting point

When Adid Harb first arrived in West Berlin in 1967, he had a good feeling about the place. He liked the expansive city, even if it lacked in international character at the time. He studied economics and worked at trade fairs, and he frequently flew home to Beirut. Initially, Adid Harb planned to get into the business of importing fresh bulk goods from Lebanon.

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But as word began to spread about his business, more and more people began to request smaller quantities of specialty products. When Adid Harb finally opened his shop, it fast became an institution, particularly within the Lebanese community. "We didn't have that in Berlin before. Back then people used to say, 'Let's meet up at Harb's,'" he says with pride.

Today he is taking a less active role in the business. His children have taken over the day-to-day operations of selling pistachios and spices, chess boards, dishware, and handicrafts. But Adid Harb can't pull himself away entirely; in fact, he is at the shop himself most days. "This is my home," he says.

Author: Xenia Balzereit

Potsdamer Str. 93
10785 Berlin-Tiergarten

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