On Park Avenue, there is a yellow house that hosts one of Grinnellians’ favorite restaurants for Family Weekend: Relish. Kamal Hammouda is the chef at Relish, though the restaurant is owned by his wife Laura Fendt. Hammouda has lived in Grinnell for nearly twenty years now, and he and Fendt have raised their sons here in Grinnell.

Laura Fendt, owner of Relish, poses for a photo.
Photo by Danielle Williams

The restaurant was launched in early February this year, replacing The Phoenix, which operated in the same location from 1995-2011. Relish is a great social environment for families, foodies and friends. All of the dishes are very fresh because Hammouda and Fendt make sure to find locally grown ingredients and herbs. In fact, Relish’s motto is “local foods, global flavors.”

“[I] thought of [the idea] for a long time; I love food,” Hammouda said.

As a restaurant, Relish provides Grinnell with a fresh and diverse aspect with its vegetarian and vegan menu, Middle Eastern flavors, bar, and even a market.

“[Relish] shows that community can work together to have the things that they want and to show that healthy is tasty,” Hammouda said.

Since Grinnell is such a small town, not many people have the opportunity to own a restaurant, so Hammouda has fun with his job as a restaurant owner by exploring new ideas and using his creativity.

Hammouda decided to stay in Grinnell and start a restaurant here because of the community. One of his goals in launching this restaurant was “to provide something unique and healthy and build a community around it,” Hammouda said.

The recipes and menu for the restaurant were selected by Hammouda and Fendt’s practice and experimentation with different food dishes.

Having lived in Grinnell for such a long time, Hammouda has grown accustomed to the small, close-knit community. Hammouda enjoys the people and the architecture of Grinnell, two unique aspects to the small town. During his spare time, Hammouda takes up reading.

Before Hammouda planted his life in Grinnell, he lived in Egypt, the United Kingdom, Kuwait, and all over the country.

Hammouda and his restaurant offer community members the chance to enjoy themselves and the food in a friendly and social atmosphere.

“I love to come up with new food ideas,” Hammouda said.