Transplant recipient follows dreams, opens cafe

One of Salisbury’s newest restaurants is planning on doing things a little differently, adding a little twist to each of its dishes and drinks.

Riverwalk Café opened July 7 on West Main Street, hoping for the best.

“We’re optimistic with the number seven, you know,” said Al Hamoud, co-owner and manager of the café.

Hamoud has been living in Salisbury for more than 17 years, and has worked in several local restaurants and has been through a lot in his life.

“I don’t know if it’s a good thing or a bad thing, but I always feel comfortable working in a local restaurant,” he said. “I know I could have learned more from the chains, but I kept it to home-style restaurants.”

About nine years ago, Hamoud started college at Delaware Technical Community College, but  marriage and a son turned his attention to home and he was unable to finish his degree.

Then, three years ago, he was diagnosed with stage 5 kidney failure, from which doctors said there was no coming back.

“But I am a very optimistic person, I think everything happens for a reason,” Hamoud said. “God has been good to me.”

He soon found that one of his six brothers was able to donate a kidney and, last year, the transplant took place after almost 18 months of dialysis.

During this time, Hamoud could not work, instead deciding to go back to school at Wor-Wic Community College and finish his degree.  This May, he graduated with a degree in business management.

“They have beautiful, smart professors,” he said. “For a person my age in my situation … they were amazing with how they worked with me, especially Marie Calafiura and Ronald Dolch.”

After graduation, Hamoud decided with his wife, Gala, and his brother, Lad, to open their own restaurant.

The café, Hamoud said, brings together all of his experience with ice cream, coffee, entrees and smoothies.

Riverwalk Café is one of the only restaurant in the city with hand-dipped Chesapeake Bay Farms ice cream, its own signature coffee drinks and a high demand for its classic and nutritional smoothies, Hamoud said.

“Foodwise, we have a very unique menu,” he said. “It’s very mixed up.”

Riverwalk Café attempts to add a “twist” to all of its items, such as adding a feta and mozzarella cheese blend to its quesadillas or driving to Baltimore to get the ingredients for its Greek salad sourced straight from Greece.

What Hamoud really feels makes the place special, though, are the people.

“The people running it, and the clientele,” he said, “we have very open-minded people. Every time I come up with something new, they’re willing to try it. This is how you can become creative.”

Hamoud said he is always trying to think of new dishes, and has big plans for menu additions this fall and winter.

KTVB


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