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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 savories.

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.