Local business owner Basam Helwani started Damask in 2013 to provide Mediterranean food and customs to local Muncie citizens. The menu consists of Syrian-inspired dishes, such as flank steaks, salads, baklava and kufta. Reagan Allen // DN
Muncie Origins: Local cafe brings Mediterranean food, culture to city
Editor's note: Muncie Origins is a Ball State Daily News series profiling various businesses that originated in Muncie.
Four years ago, the Muncie area was at a loss for Mediterranean food. It was a void local business owner Basam Helwani decided to fill.
Damask, a café located across the way from Scheumann Stadium, serves to provide Mediterranean food and customs to the inhabitants of Muncie.
Helwani started Damask in 2013 when his daughter moved to the area and told him there was no place to get Mediterranean food here.
Helwani decided Muncie would be a good place to start this restaurant based on his daughter’s want for one and a focus on healthier eating.
“When I first moved here a lot of people had no idea what falafel is or what hummus is, so now it’s really a global trend of healthy eating, rich in olive oils and garlic,” he said.
Helwani is originally from Damascus, Syria, which is were he got the restaurant's name. The menu consists of Syrian-inspired dishes that range from flank steaks and salads to baklava and kufta.
“What we are trying to do is bring a culinary eatery, kinda European and Mediterranean food to the Muncie area,” Helwani said.
Since its opening, Damask has won Taste of Muncie twice.
Hookah is a big part of Mediterranean culture. Damask provides hookah and outdoor seating to comfortably accommodate that feature.
The café appeals mostly to business professionals, Ball State faculty and a select group of college students, Helwani said.
In early 2016, Helwani decided to buy property in the village, retrofitting The Locker Room into what is now known as Two Cats Café.
Sydney Matic, a junior psychology and criminal justice major, has been working at Damask for two years and also worked at Two Cats when it opened.
“The environment is great and I enjoy working with everyone here. [Helwani] really makes working here a great experience and he works with my school schedule very well.”
Damask is open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. until 10 p.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m.