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Quality Story

The Story Of Holy Land Started With A Dream

This dream began over 100 years ago with Grandfather Abu Saeed and his time-tested pita bread recipe. His values of hard work, family, tradition, and Islam’s cornerstones were carried over generations to be a part of our restaurant today.

Holy Land’s founder, Wajdi Wadi, came from Kuwait to the United States to attend college at Moorehead State University (MN) in 1985 with the support of his mother (“mama” Fatima) and father (“Baba” Mahmoud). After graduating, he made his way to Minneapolis to pursue the dream of opening a restaurant. He found it in “Ali Baba” bakery and bought it.

Father, Mahmoud, “Baba” as he is affectingly called, could best be described as the personality of Holy Land. His personality was infectious while he cut the fresh vegetables for the day or stood behind the counter slicing gyro. Customers coming to Holy Land would always look for him, the man with the smile. His character added a special ingredient. You can see a bit of his smile in each employee to this day.

about holy land sweets quality story

Mama Fatima, as she is known to all, can be described as the backbone of the business. She has always used her own recipes in the food she prepares for the deli. These would later be critically acclaimed for their flavor and authenticity. Mama would lead by example cooking all night to prepare food for the next day’s business. She would teach and lead in the lessons of business and customer service. Mama created at Holy Land an atmosphere of true hospitality, of genuine friendliness, of family. In bringing these important elements to the business, Mama would also bring in larger and larger crowds. The family’s strong bond would soon extend to the community and has made Holy Land (“The original home of mama Fatima recipes”) a neighborhood and city-wide institution.

Holy Land Begins

As business grew, Wajdi moved to Northeast Minneapolis and created the name “Holy Land” as a Middle Eastern Deli, Bakery, and Grocery store. Unique recipes, including Grandfather Abu Saeed’s pita bread recipe, that can’t be found anywhere paired with our family’s dedication and hard work ensured success.

A Growing Business

By 1993, Holy Land was labeled the “Best Middle Eastern Deli” by City Pages and had to expand. In 1994, to accommodate Holy Land’s increasing needs, Holy Land expanded to the space next door. The next year, Wajdi’s brother, Majdi, moved to Minneapolis from Jordan to join the family business. With his 10 years of experience in management, marketing, and finance, under Majdi’s leadership, Holy Land continued to grow and get involved with the community and its many cultures. Because of Majdi’s shrewd business ideas, the company grew from an 800-square-foot corner store generating sales of less than $300,000 a year to a more than 30,000-square-foot location grossing more than $19 million annually.

As the dream of Holy Land developed, we worked to be more than just a business. By working in the community, we have been able to provide help and grow. The Star Tribune once labeled Holy Land as “a mecca for the international shopper,” but it has become much more. It has become a mecca for Minneapolis’ growingly diverse community.

Awards and Achievements

In November of 2001, Majdi was nominated by Wells Fargo Bank for the “National Small Business Person Of The Year” award. Wells Fargo heralded him as “exhibiting management skills that transformed a very small neighborhood grocery store into a multi-million-dollar enterprise.” Holy Land was regarded as “the key to the economic revitalization of the Central Avenue commercial corridor in NE Minneapolis.” For this outstanding achievement, The City of Minneapolis saluted Holy Land by announcing August 21, 2002, as “Holy Land Bakery and Deli Day” and Majdi was honored as the “Grand Marshall” of the Northeast Parade.

For the continuous hard work, determination, and impact made by Holy Land under Majdi’s leadership he was nominated for “National Immigration forums Keepers of American Dream” award which he won at Washington DC in 2008. He also won “200 Minnesotans you should know” and “entrepreneur of the year” finalist.

Holy Land became a common household name in the diverse community it served. People kept coming back because of its high-quality standards, generous portions authentic flavors and competitive pricing. For the past 35 years Holy Land has won numerous awards like:

  • City Pages Best Middle eastern restaurant & groceries
  • Mpls/St Paul Magazine Best Middle eastern restaurant & groceries
  • Business journal Being one of the 50 perfect spots for Gourmet and on the Go
  • Yelp best middle eastern restaurant
  • Minnesota monthly Readers’ Choice silver spoon award
  • The Oprah magazine’s versatile hummus dip
  • Trip advisors Travelers choice award for best restaurant in Minneapolis

And many many more…

In The Community

Continuing the efforts of making a difference in the community, Holy land has donated over a million dollars in the past 10 years. We have established the Holy Land Charitable fund in Minneapolis, a foundation that continues to help support the local neighborhood, youth organizations, schools, and Minneapolis’ Muslim community. One of Holy Land’s mottos is “The time for peace is now,” and it is evident as Holy Land’s employees come from all over the world.

The Making of Holy Land Sweets

Holy Land Timeline

  • 1986 Wajdi Wadi founded Holy Land
  • 1993 Holy Land Wins “Best Middle Eastern Deli” by City Pages
  • 1994 Holy Land relocates to its present address at 2513 Central Ave
  • 1995 Majdi Wadi, brother of Wajdi joins the business
  • 1998 Holy Land cited “Best Middle Eastern Grocery” by City Pages
  • 1999 Holy Land is awarded “Best Middle Eastern Bakery” by Minnesota Monthly Magazine.
  • 2001 Holy Land cited “Best Middle Eastern Grocery” by City Pages
  • 2001 Majdi is nominated for the “National Small Business Person” Award by Wells Fargo Bank
  • 2001 Holy Land is awarded “Best Middle Eastern Grocery” by City Pages.
  • 2001 Holy Land is awarded “Best Authentic Restaurant” by Mpls St. Paul Magazine.
  • 2002 City of Minneapolis names August 21st “Holy Land Bakery And Deli Day” with Ribbon Cutting on new addition
  • 2002 Holy Land cited “Best Middle Eastern Grocery” by City Pages
  • 2002 NE Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce awards Holy Land the “Business of the Year” Award for NE Minneapolis
  • 2003 Holy Land cited “Best Middle Eastern Bread” by City Pages
  • 2003 Majdi is the Grand Marshall in the Northeast Parade
  • 2004 Holy Land cited “Best Middle Eastern Grocery” by City Pages
  • 2004 Holy Land cited in AOL City Guide as “City’s Best Healthy Dining”
  • 2005 Holy Land cited “Best Healthy Dining” by City Pages
  • 2005 Holy Land is awarded “2005 Diners Choice Award” by the Minneapolis/St. Paul Magazine
  • 2005 Holy Land is awarded “Best Health Dining” by AOL Cit Guide.
  • 2005 Holy Land is awarded “Recommended Dining Choice” by City Search.
  • 2006 Holy Land is awarded “50 Perfect Spots for Gourmet on the Go” by Minnesota Monthly.
  • 2006 Holy Land is awarded “Top 25 Metro Area Restaurants” by Mpls St. Paul Business Journal.
  • 2006 Holy Land is awarded “Top 25 Minority Owned Business” by Mpls St. Paul Business Journal.
  • 2006 Holy Land opened second location in Global Market Midtown
  • 2007 Holy land became first bakery in MN to export the bread to far east
  • 2007 Holy Land won award from ‘Minneapolis- St. Paul Magazine’ as best Middle Eastern Restaurant
  • 2007 Holy Land finished expanding Bakery facility
  • 2007 Holy Land Opened a grand Hummus factory right next to central Location
  • 2007 Holy Land’s bread and unique Hummus reached the shelves of Cub Foods
  • 2008 Holy Land started selling Hummus and Bread to big companies like Lund’s and Byerly’s
  • 2008 Holy Land Launched ‘Order Lunch and Dinner Online’
  • 2008 Majdi Wadi got an award form NE Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce for being ‘Best Business man of the year in NE Minneapolis, MN
  • 2008 Majdi Wadi, the CEO of the company, won the prestigious ‘ National Immigration Forum’s Carvel Entrepreneur Award’ from Keepers of American Dreams

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