Lancaster New Era
NAME: Addisu's Ethiopian Restaurant
LOCATION: 1027 Dillerville Rd, on the left-hand side of the building.
HOURS: Mon.-Sat., 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sun., Noon-6 p.m.
PRICE RANGE: $8-$12
CHEF RECOMMENDS: For those new to Ethiopian cuisine, owner Addisu Eggu recommends the Number 20 Combination, a platter that offers a sampling of their best meals.
QUOTE: "We take pride when a little bit of food is left on the plate after our customers finish their meal," said Eggu. "It means we served more good food than the customer could eat."
CONTACT: (717)341-3904 or (717)291-1542.
Addisu’s: A little touch of Ethiopia in an out-of-the-way spot
BY JOSEPH MALDONADO, Correspondent
About two years ago, in a small, humble space, Addisu Eggu decided to open a business. At first, Eggu’s business sold specialty foods from his native country of Ethiopia.
Then, despite the easy-to-miss location, Eggu decided to expand by opening a quaint eatery called Addisu’s Ethiopian Restaurant.
Both businesses are still located at the original 1027 Dillersville Road address in Lancaster.
“Customers have told me that it has taken two or three attempts to find me,” Eggu says with a gentle laugh and warm smile. “But once they do, they all agree that the extra effort was worthwhile.”
The restaurant’s entryway is tucked back in the middle of the left hand side of the complex. Only a small sign marks the entryway. The door’s sign seems only slightly smaller than the one Addisu placed at ground level along Dillersville Road.
“It is a small business with small means,” says Eggu’s friend and mentor, Getachew Hirpo. “But Addisu has a big heart for his customers and big dreams to grow.”
For now, there are a few neatly arranged tables and chairs inside Addisu’s bright and clean dining room. There are a few decorations on the wall meant to bestow a little of Ethiopia’s culture and a display at the back of the room meant to educate customers about some of the country’s dining habits.
Unlike big chain restaurants, Addisu’s menu is small. In all there are 15 entrée items to choose from. There are no appetizers and no desserts listed.
If customers say they are exceptionally hungry for something to eat quickly, Eggu said they have learned to improvise appetizers to please their customers.
“We serve coffee for dessert,” laughs Eggu. “A lot of people do not know this, but Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee. Just about everyone in the country drinks it for just about every occasion.”
The items on the menu are authentic to the dietary habits of Ethiopia. All of the dishes incorporate the country’s three main meats, which are beef, chicken and lamb.
“Items such as pork and fish are rarely eaten in our country,” says Hirpo. “So they do not appear on the menu here.”
All of the menu items are named and spelled in the Ethiopian language with a description of each included. Once the orders are placed, customers may be surprised to learn that Ethiopian cuisine does not require the use of eating utensils such as forks and spoons.
“Everyone is encouraged to wash their hands,” says Eggu. “Our meals are finger food.”
All meals are served on a tray with rolled-up bundles of bread called teff injera. Hirpo says to think of the bread as a sourdough crepe.
“You unroll the injera and break off a piece,” Hirpo says. “Then you use the piece to pinch a portion of the food you wish to eat.”
As the food is cooking there is a wonderful, though unfamiliar, set of scents that fills the air.
Not only do the dishes use authentic Ethiopian spices, many of the spices are actually dried, ground and shipped to America by Eggu’s mother, Sanit Asefa, who still resides in the African country.
One of the most important of these shipments is berbere. The seasoning is a blend of popular Ethiopian spices such as chili pepper and ginger.
“Ethiopians like their foods spicy,” says Hirpo. “Here, we start the customers a little on the mild side unless they ask for more.”
Who might those customers be? Eggu says there are a lot of people in Lancaster who have immigrated to America from Ethiopia. But some of their best customers are area missionaries who fell in love with the food while doing the Lord’s work in Africa.
As word has begun to spread about Addisu’s authentic Ethiopian food, some of its customers have been willing to drive significant distances to find the restaurant.
One of those customers, Sharon Diann, made the trip after learning about the restaurant from a coworker.
“I used to live in Kansas City,” says Diann. “Some friends I went to church with owned an Ethiopian restaurant that I fell in love with.”
Diann ordered the Addisu Special Afaagñ, which is made with ground beef, hot peppers, garlic, ginger and other spices.
“I definitely enjoyed my meal,” says Diann. “Based on my experiences, the food is truly authentic and the service was exceptional.”
“No one is allowed to leave hungry or unhappy,” says Hirpo. “For the time you are here, you are family and family always takes care of family.”