Abyssinia Market showcases the products of
Queen of Sheba, an authentic Ethiopian Restaurant in Chapel Hill, NC.
Excerpt from a September 2003 Independent Weekly Article
Queen of Sheba celebrates her one-year reign
By Erika Gamel
This week, Queen of Sheba celebrated its first-year anniversary.
Owner/chef Friesha (pron. free-yesha) Genet Dabei had only last year ended
her 10-year run as chef/owner at the Blue Nile in Durham. She began the
Durham restaurant as a kiosk, serving food through a small window and
grew it into a successful restaurant where patrons might choose to wait
over an hour to be fed from an extensive menu of moderately spiced well-seasoned
When she left, Friesha relinquished everything associated with the restaurant,
including her wine-making house, where she would daily climb a tall ladder
to stir the hops wood sedimentaround an enormous pot. Her wine-making
recipe was handed down from her grandmother in Addis Ababa, and remains
a well-guarded secret that she hopes one day to revive.
After a few stints exploring other modes of work, Friesha's desire to
return to cooking began to burn. In no time, she received all forms of
assistance, including a friend pointing the way to the spot on North Graham.
Shortly, a community of people appeared to paint walls, put down carpets
on cement floors, donate supplies and purchase advertising space. Some
worked for nothing, while others traded service for a lunch of njira,
traditional Ethiopian bread and yemsir kay watt, pureed lentil mixed with
a spicy hot sauce.
The restaurant, which now provides lunch and dinner six days a week, except
Monday, serves college professors to high school drop-outs seeking a comfortable
place to eat and tear bread together, turning acquaintances into pals
in a matter of bites over a shared vegetarian platter.