By the 1940s, Mama Ayesha Abraham had already established herself as a successful young farmer in Jerusalem. But instead of adding to her more than 20 farms, she decided to move to the United States, where she found work in the kitchen of the Syrian Embassy. After many years and countless orders for Capital Hill’s elite, she opened a restaurant called Calvert Café.
Today, her nephews and great nephews manage the restaurant, which has been renamed Mama Ayesha's and has been family-owned-and-operated for more than five decades. But her presence is still felt. Her recipes are used to make the eatery’s kebabs and Middle Eastern dishes, and her image appears outside the restaurant on a large mural that also features several recent presidents and one from the future.