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Jordanian Siblings Build American Dream In The Rivertowns

The Qunsel family of Jordan have established a thriving deli business in the Rivertowns.
The Qunsel family of Jordan have established a thriving deli business in the Rivertowns. Video Credit: Danny LoPriore
A busy morning rush in the Hastings-on-Hudson Madaba deli. Photo Credit: Danny LoPriore
Madaba staffer Firas Marji works day shifts at the Hastings deli. Photo Credit: Danny LoPriore
Sa Qunsel, right, and niece Farida, work together at the Hastings deli named for their hometown of Madaba in Jordan. Photo Credit: Danny LoPriore

HASTINGS-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. -- Sal and Sam Qunsel ventured from their home in Jordan to America nearly 30 years ago and have built a family business in the Rivertowns with hard work and determination.

Using the name of their beloved home town of Madaba as inspiration, the brothers built a chain of nine small Madaba Delis that stretched from the Bronx to Ardsley, Dobbs Ferry and Hastings, embracing their new-found home,

Sal Qunsel was the first of the brothers to come to the United States. After graduating college with few prospects in Jordan, the 22-year-old borrowed plane fare and took a leap of faith with nothing but $5 in his pocket. Younger brother Sam followed soon after he finished college.

"There was opportunity in the U.S. and we worked night and day, sometimes 22 hours when one of us could not take a shift," Sal said. "We added stores until we had nine, but then a few years ago we decided it was too much, so we sold most of them. We have come to be part of the community."

After selling stores in the Bronx, Yonkers and Dobbs Ferry, Madaba stores remain in Ardsley, under a new owner, and in Hastings where the Sal and Sam are fixtures in the village. The Madaba owners have employed more than 50 relatives and friends from their hometown behind the counters over the last 25 years.

"I think because we stay opened 24 hours and seven days a week, people know they can come any time," said daytime staffer Fadia Qunsel, Sam's daughter. "We know everyone and the people know us. It's like family."

Fareed Rabadi is a constant on the overnight Madaba crew, manning the counter, dealing out Lotto tickets and making sandwiches through the evening and early morning hours until the day crew comes on at 7 a.m. Family friend Firas Marji joins Fadia and Uncle Sal on the day crew while Sam is back in Jordan visiting family.

Being opened 24/7 means just that for the Madaba crews who man the stores through all kinds of weather and even through power outages, hurricanes, snow storms and even several robberies. The delis remained open during the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy last year getting power from neighbors by extension cords and keeping the place going for the customers.

"Things happen, so we try to be here for the customers," said Sal, who became a father for the first time last year. "The customers trust us to be here. It is hard work to keep a business going. The family is most important though."

And the family back home in Jordan, where the brothers visit as often as they can, are represented by their American cousins who have made a new life in America.


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