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Man from Morocco achieves his American dream in eastern Iowa

Published: Oct. 18, 2021 at 5:25 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Otmane Benjilany moved to Eastern Iowa from Morocco 15 years ago with the dream of one day owning his own restaurant. He got his start as “O’s Grill,” with a hot dog cart in 2009.

“I was doing a full-time job at the factory and then I was doing hot dog cart on the weekends,” Benjilany said.

He sold Moroccan-style shish kabobs in downtown Cedar Rapids for years before turning his business into a food truck in 2015. Since then, the business has been running out of a 14x7 foot trailer. On busy days there are four people working inside. Now, they’re about to get a lot more space.

”Now we have like 2,400 square-foot, so a lot of magic will happen in here,” Benjilany said.

The first permanent home for O’s Grill will open at 3911 Center Point Road NE in Cedar Rapids, on Halloween. The restaurant, which specializes in gyros, is a dream that’s been a long time coming for Benjilany who came to the states without speaking English.

”Two words I knew about English is thank you and hi when I moved here to this country so it was a long road,” Benjilany said.

”I feel like I’m very lucky and I always heard about ‘American Dream’ I didn’t know what it was, now I’m feeling it and I’m living it.” Benjilany said.

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