Portraits of Concord Diversity: Patty Sabol & Batulo Mahamed are introducing delicious food to Concord 

By JAMIE L. COSTA

Monitor staff

Published: 09-20-2023 3:41 PM

Batulo Mahamed and Patty Sabol, two African refugees that immigrated to Concord in recent years, are dedicated to bringing the flavors of their heritage to their new community.

Each owns a restaurant in the city, serving unique dishes found nowhere else in Concord’s food scene. 

Mahamed gained recognition at the Multicultural Festival a decade ago when she started selling her soon-to-be-famous hand-made Somali pies, a triangular pastry stuffed with spices, vegetables or meats and fried until golden. 

Since then, the food cooked by her and her 12 children has become a fan favorite of the festival. Earlier this year, she opened her first brick-and-mortar location at the Bank of New Hampshire Stage called Batulo’s Kitchen. At the end of her lease next year, she hopes to purchase a food truck to continue the growth of her business, she said. 

“I feel amazing to be chosen as the first chef,” Mahamed said when her take-out restaurant opened in January. “I am so excited.”

When Mahamed first came to the United States, she cooked for her friends and the community as a thank-you for all the support she and her family received in their new community. With the help of the New Hampshire Small Business Development Center and Jessica Livingston, director of the Multicultural Festival, Mahamed secured funding, made a business plan and successfully opened her own restaurant. 

Livingston saw the need to help refugees and New Americans establish and grow their business ideas and reached out about the possibility of opening a commercial kitchen in the Bank of New Hampshire Stage for refugees like Mahamed to operate their small businesses independently. As part of her rental agreement, she pays a percentage of her proceeds monthly for the space. 

In Boscawen on a leased parcel of farmland, she grows an array of vegetables, including bell peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, onions, jalapenos, cilantro, dill and cucumbers that she uses in her cooking. She grows more than she uses and sells produce directly to customers at farm stands. 

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On the other side of town, Sabol of Ghana opened her own African restaurant where she, alongside another chef, are serving traditional West and East African dishes which often have similar flavors to Caribbean cuisine. The restaurant offers some well-known and not-so-well known dishes like jerk chicken, oxtail, jollof rice and fish banku. 

When Sabol first moved to Concord, she quickly learned that in order to purchase traditional African foods and spices, she had to travel to Boston and sometimes as far as New York City to bring a taste of home to her community here in Concord. That inspired her to first open Maddy’s African Market on North Main Street. 

Her market, which sells traditional African spices, vegetables, meats and pre-made meals attracted the attention of people from outside of Concord who also struggled to find the goods they wanted in their new communities throughout New England. As the market started to expand and more people requested her homemade meals, she started to look for a restaurant location.

In June, she opened her second business, Maddy’s Food Hub, on Fort Eddy Road but her success as a dual business owner and chef has not been without challenges, including securing licenses and financing without prior knowledge of the American business industry. 

“It’s hard to be a business owner, especially not growing up in America,” Sabol said in June. “This is something that will make our people feel like they’re not different and I wanted the youth to see that. I want them to feel comfortable and show them that this is something we can do, and they can do, too.”

Sabol and Mahamed’s success as Black, female business owners has caught the attention of other Black entrepreneurs in the area. They both hope their triumphs will inspire others in the city to start their own businesses. 

“I want to make sure every American in Concord tastes my food,” Sabol said.

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