When Adnan Al Hayyawi moved to the Tri-Cities from his native Iraq nearly eight years ago, he missed the tastes of home.
The sweet, flavorful pistachio baklava.
The fluffy, melt-in-your-mouth samoon bread.
The zesty meat and vegetable pizzas and the shish kebabs.
He doesn’t have to miss them anymore.
Al Hayyawi and his wife, Thekra Jasmin, opened Somer Bakery at 5601 W. Clearwater Ave., Suite 111, in Kennewick last summer.
The bakery – offering breads, sweets, dips, pizzas and other fare from Iraq and the Mediterranean – fills a hole in the local market. And it helps Al Hayyawi and Jasmin feel connected to their past and to their home country as they build a new life and chase their dreams in the Tri-Cities.
“We’re trying to produce something good for the Tri-Cities,” Al Hayyawi said. “Many customers, they try our bread (once) and then every day they come back. Every morning, I make it fresh. Everything here is fresh. We’re trying to do something for our community. We hope we will succeed.”
They certainly have the culinary chops.
Al Hayyawi worked in his cousin’s bakery for many years before moving onto other jobs and Jasmin “has the magic touch” in the kitchen, in the words of her husband.
They’ve been married for 19 years.
In Baghdad, Jasmin was a middle school history teacher and Al Hayyawi worked for the Ministry of Education and helped the American military as an interpreter. That latter job eventually meant it wasn’t safe for him or his family to stay in Iraq.
In 2015, Al Hayyawi, Jasmin and their three kids, who are now in middle and high school, began their refugee journey to the United States and, ultimately, the Tri-Cities. It was difficult to start over in a new place, so far from home, they said.
Al Hayyawi worked small jobs at first and then was hired by Lamb Weston. As he and Jasmin and their kids began to settle into their new home, a dream started to take root.
Al Hayyawi and Jasmin noticed that while there were many bakeries in the Tri-Cities, there wasn’t one selling the kind of food they could offer. They decided to take the leap.
Somer Bakery opened last August. Its name is a nod to one of the world’s first civilizations, in what’s now Iraq.
Al Hayyawi and Jasmin are at the bakery every day, making their bread, baklava, cakes, hummus, baba ganoush, tabouleh, pizza and other sweet and savory items. Their children, Dalia, 18, Daniah, 16, and Hussein, 12, also sometimes help out.
Somer Bakery 5601 W. Clearwater Ave., Suite 111, in Kennewick serves a variety of food from Iraq and the Mediterranean, including fresh hummus and baba ganoush.
The bakery also offers strong, rich Turkish coffee, and it has some grocery store items, from spices to nuts and more.
Somer Bakery has a loyal following, and it’s not uncommon to see Al Hayyawi or Jasmin warmly chatting with customers-turned-regulars as they serve up treats or otherwise attend to the customers’ needs.
At the bakery, they make and serve their food with love and “we focus on quality,” Al Hayyawi said. “There are a lot of bakeries in the U.S., but our bread, our sweets – they’re different because of our quality.”
Al Hayyawi and Jasmin seem excited about the future they’re building in the Tri-Cities. Almost eight years after they first landed here, they’ve managed to create a place that offers a taste of their old home in their new one.
Their children are doing well in school and thriving, with Dalia applying to college, Al Hayyawi said with obvious pride.
“It wasn’t easy (to leave Iraq), but we were thinking about our kids. We (left) for them and we are working to help our kids have a better life,” Al Hayyawi said. “We are very, very proud of our kids. We are very proud of ourselves. We started here from zero and now we have this business.”
Somer Bakery: 5601 W. Clearwater Ave., Suite 111, Kennewick; 509-820-2146; somerbakerywa.com.
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