Akhibachi’s and Momma G’s join forces north of Dover

Chefs Dion Alston and Gloria Grant work side by side in the kitchen of Momma G’s Soul Food and Jamaican Restaurant featuring Akhibachi’s. The restaurateurs recently joined forces in the location just north of Dover, outside of Cheswold. ( Delaware State News/Ian Gronau)

In December, local Dover chefs Dion Alston of Akhibachi’s and Gloria Grant of Momma G’s Soul Food and Jamaican Restaurant linked up to operate as a single entity out of Ms. Grant’s already established location on 5409 N. DuPont Highway in Dover.

Since sneaking onto the Dover culinary scene back in 2016, Mr. Alston has had a nomadic existence.

“I actually started with just $40, a little table and a grill,” he said. “I set up in Simon Circle and just started cooking.”

After a while, he was able to move the small specialty Halal food operation to US Gas on Route 13 in Dover.

“They had a small kitchen set up I was able to use for a bit and it worked out nicely,” said Mr. Alston. “But, something came up with their air conditioner and it was getting too hot in there with me cooking. It was tough too because I didn’t have a contract with the owner, so I literally had to pack up and leave that day.”

After another short stint serving his clients in the open air, he ended up in Allure Nightclub in Dover. Once again though, it was short lived. The club closed down last September and that sent Akhibachi’s packing again.

However, one thing he hasn’t lacked in is enthusiastic patrons, he says.

“Ever since I started, it really went crazy,” he said. “Our salmon cheesesteaks are really popular – they’re the menu item that really started the whole thing. Our following is kind of homegrown cause I started just out in the community on the streets.”

Even the name, Akhibachi comes from Mr. Alston’s customers.

“In Arabic, Akhi means ‘brother,’” he said. “I was overhearing people talk and they were saying ‘yeah, I’m out here by the Akhi.’ And, I was cooking on a kind of hibachi, so they sort of just put it together. I liked it, so I took it.”

Mr. Alston describes his food as more of a modern spin on traditional Islamic cuisine. This includes cheesesteaks, nachos, fries, gyros and wraps made of lamb, steak, chicken, salmon and shrimp. However, where he really shines is his sauces, he says.

“That’s our tagline: ‘we got the sauce,’” said Mr. Alston. “Most of them are personal recipes. We have Akhi sauce, which is garlic ginger, pineapple hot sauce, teriyaki, BBQ, jerk, curry, spicy ranch, chipotle mint and more.”

Despite bouncing from place to place, Akhibachi’s didn’t escape the notice of Ms. Grant, who’s been in the restaurant business for over a decade. Ms. Grant and her family own Momma G’s, Tropical Delight Café and Big Daddy’s Soul Food. She said she’d been hearing positive things about Mr. Alston’s food for several years before deciding to join forces with him recently.

“I had a guy who was working with me come and tell me there was someone selling their food in the community and it was so good that it could put us out of business,” she laughed. “I was like: ‘I have to meet him.’”

This time, Mr. Alston believes he’s leaving his past as a nomad behind him.

“I was starting to get tired of working out of other businesses because something would always go wrong somehow,” he said. “But this is a great setup and business has really been taking off.”

Ms. Grant says the arrangement works well because although their cuisines are very different, they’re complimentary.

“Momma G’s does traditional soul food like fried chicken, wings, mac and cheese, collard greens and candied yams,” she said. “But, our foods go together well because I’m a Seventh Day Adventist. Like Halal food, we also don’t use any pork. So we don’t bump heads in the kitchen.”

Ms. Grant says she’s looking forward to cooking side-by-side with Mr. Alston.

“It’s a really unique set up, and it’s exciting for our customers,” she said. “We just want everyone to know that we’re here, we’re open for business and all are welcome.”

For Momma G’s Soul Food and Jamaican Restaurant, call (302) 744-9090 or search @mommagsoulfood on Facebook. For Akhibachi’s, call (302) 526-2210 or search @Akhibachi on Facebook.