A Stratford restaurant opened its doors on Christmas Day to feed the homeless, hungry and lonely as a way of giving back to the community which supported it.

Tarek Amin, owner of the newly opened Sahara Kebabs & Grill says he believes life is about much more than just money.

"You have to give, we are all human."

He was kept busy putting this into action on Christmas Day, making and giving away about 50 kebabs in total.

We've had a really good reaction to our opening, lots of people coming in, Stratford is a friendly place.

"We had some people come in, but I also stood out on the street and waved down motorists and gave them out."

While Tarek's business has only been open a couple of months, he says the idea of giving food out on Christmas Day isn't new to him.

"I have always done it wherever I have worked, it is important to show care for others and this is a way to do it."

Tarek says since he opened the restaurant in Stratford he has been well supported by locals, so this was a way of giving back.

"We've had a really good reaction to our opening, lots of people coming in. Stratford is a friendly place."

Originally, he says, he planned to open a restaurant in New Plymouth, "but every time I drove through Stratford I thought what a beautiful town it is and what a nice place. Everyone is friendly, it is a good place for a business."

It's also a good place to call home, he adds, saying he also lives locally.

Although the restaurant is new, Tarek has many years of experience in the culinary trade, saying he wanted to work as a chef ever since he was a young child watching his mum and dad in the kitchen at home in Egypt.


"Then, since I came to New Zealand in 2006, I have trained and worked in great kitchens, getting my experience as well as qualifications ready to open my own restaurant."

It was the welcoming attitude of New Zealanders when he moved here he says, that partly inspired him to make Christmas Day a day of giving back.