The smiles behind Jake’s Diner in Yarmouth

Published on September 14, 2015

Joe and Lisa Habib of Jake’s Dinner, Pizzeria and Deli.

YARMOUTH – The Yarmouth and Area Chamber of Commerce will be profiling some of its members from time to time in the pages of the Yarmouth Vanguard. In our Sept. 15 issue of the Vanguard the Chamber focuses on Jake’s Diner and Pizzeria.

By Linda Sutton

 

Joe Habib is a guy who smiles a lot, and right now he believes Yarmouth has something to smile about too. 

Joe and his wife, Lisa, own and operate Jake’s Diner, Pizzeria and Deli, a Yarmouth fixture since his father, Zakie (Jake), opened the restaurant 25 years ago. 

“Yarmouth’s on the upswing now,” Joe says, noting that the town and surrounding area are finally beginning to emerge from the recession that started in 2008 and later deepened when the Cat was cancelled. 

“I believe the area is starting to grow again – there are a lot more jobs around. It seems that people are opening their minds to see different things and ways to do things.”

Lisa chimes in: “There’s a far more positive buzz about change in the area.”

“We’re not just a retirement community,” Joe says. “We’re getting the younger people coming back from university and we hope that’s how Yarmouth can move forward.”

The administration at town hall has been very receptive to new ideas, he says, noting the burgeoning number of restaurant patios downtown, including one in front of his own business. But the patio is not the only thing that is new about Jake’s, which has built its business on pizza and donairs. 

 “We’re trying to change the menu to include more healthful meals,” Joe says, pointing to stir fry items, pita sandwiches, salads, a variety of seafood dishes, and a Lebanese special on Tuesdays.

They have a new project on the menu – a food truck that will specialize in shawarma and pitas, as well as pizza and donairs. 

They are also diving into social media with a Facebook page. 

The Habibs have made a practice of giving back to their adopted community, always ready to help minor sports teams with backing and pizza. Their restaurant is bedecked with sports memorabilia. 

Running the business is “more than just a job for us,” says Lisa, who takes pains to mention their great staff who have been with them for years. And they appreciate the old customers who drop by when they come back to the Yarmouth area.  

“We want people to have happy memories of Jake’s,” Joe says.

The restaurant business is a way of life for the Habib family, who moved to Halifax from Lebanon many years ago. Joe’s dad had four restaurants in Halifax before branching out to Yarmouth. “He came for a drive and fell in love with the area,” Joe says. “In one day he rented the store and started the business.”

Twenty years ago, Joe and Lisa took over the restaurant and moved to Yarmouth to live and raise their son. “The friends we’ve made here are incredible,” they say. 

The love and respect for Joe’s father are evident. The Habibs plan to establish a scholarship fund in his name, recognizing a student with entrepreneurship abilities. Will their son, Jake, follow in the family business? Possibly, as he also works in the business, they say, but he has to finish his education first.