Jamal Abu-Rubieh is the proud and joyful owner of Brookline Lunch in Central Square. He runs a smooth operation alongside his wife and kids. Back in 1976 however, he would have never imagined being at the helm of his own food establishment. He was just a student at Wentworth with dreams of one day becoming an aircraft engineer.
Jamal and his wife met in their homeland of Jordan. They were set up by a mutual family friend. “It was love at first sight,” says Jamal. “I married her two weeks after I met her.” They have seven children together (ages 6, 12, 13, 18, 22, 23, 24), all of whom are succeeding academically. Jamal and his wife understand first-hand that a little help can go a long way for a student.
Their commitment to the student body in Cambridge is evident through the pricing on their menu. They had managed to keep their prices the same for ten whole years until some minor adjustments were due this past September. College students can also show their school ID’s for an additional 10 percent off their meal.
The characteristics of a successful diner are much more meaningful to Jamal than strictly financially. “I love Cambridge people. They come from all different backgrounds. We shake hands, we laugh and we eat. It isn’t about the money.”
Jamal cooks from the heart by reaching back into his life experiences as he prepares each of dishes. He grew up on a farm learning to enjoy fresh vegetables incorporated into each of his meals. His first restaurant job was as a dishwasher at an American diner to help pay for school, as he kept a watchful eye on the technique of the cooks there. He was later recruited and mentored by a good friend to cook in a French gourmet style kitchen. As his cooking flourished, he and his younger brother started their own catering business on Western Avenue. He purchased Brookline Lunch in the early nineties, and his kitchen creations took the city by storm.
So the next time you walk into Brookline Lunch in Central Square, trust that a dish from Jamal is a glimpse into his decorated past.