It’s 4:30 AM on a weekend night and you’re beyond wasted. The doors to your favourite bar are closing but you’re not ready to go home yet, let alone on an empty stomach. Don’t fret: Hlal Jarah, owner of the local favourite Mandi, a Middle Eastern food joint, is here to save you, bringing you some of the most tasty, delicious falafels to be found in Reykjavík.
Working almost every weekend night until 6 AM, Hlal has more energy most of the time than most people have in their entire life. “My work isn’t just here at Mandi,” he explains. “When there are other projects like catering or marinating meat, I’m doing that as well, besides being in the shop.”
You would think that since Mandi is a known hot spot for hungry drunks, Hlal might see some crazy occurrences. “There are very few instances where drunk people are causing problems here, because the customers we get late at night are the same ones we see during the day,” he says. “They know us as friends so they’re respectful and don’t cause any problems with us or other customers.” He recalls one hilarious encounter, though. “This guy came in one night and ordered his food. He ate it pretty fast, and as soon as he was done, he came back and asked ‘are you going to give me my food?’ and I told him he had already been served. ‘You ate it!’ He was so drunk he forgot he ate his food. It was pretty funny to see how delirious he was.”
Hlal says he doesn’t mind working late. “It’s a lot of fun here on weekend nights,” he says. “There’s good music all the time. When people come in, we let our customers choose what they want to hear. If there’s something they like, then why not!When they come in before they go home on a night out, they call it an afterparty here.”