Though it might look like a hole-in-the-wall smoothie shop, Abu Shaker’s place is a Damascus institution, famous for its lavish, over-sized combinations of fruits topped with whipped cream, honey and pistachios. But like many great inventions, Abu Shaker’s signature drink was first created on a whim.
It always happened, he recalls, that when he was out of milk, customers who came in wanting a banana and milk smoothie would turn around and leave. Sorry to lose their business, he decided to come up with an alternative.
“Do you want me to squeeze some carrots together with some apple, orange, grapes, pomegranate and black mulberry, plus some sugar, and taste it?” he asked. “Go ahead and try it,” the customer said. Decades later, the delicious mix is still one of the most popular menu items.
Abu Shaker’s real name is Adnan Omari, and he inherited his spirit of innovation from his father, who used to tell his son that he “invented the orange juice business”. He opened his place in Salihiya in 1925, in the midst of the French Mandate, and taught his son to quote the price of a drink as “two francs, sir,” quietly so as not to seem uppity.
Abu Shaker took over after his father’s death in 1963; 51 years later, his own four sons all have university degrees. His shop remains “the axis of his existence”, his son Abdullah says—thankfully for Damascenes who get to keep savoring the fruits of his dedication.
For more info – Abu Shaker documentary