Pakistani refugee living the American dream

TAYLORSVILLE, Utah – Winsten Asif, a Pakistani immigrant and refugee living in Utah, says people keep asking him why he opened a Greek cuisine restaurant.

“They always ask me, ‘You are Pakistani, why do you cook Greek food?’ “, he said.

But for Asif, it’s all part of his American dream.

“The land of opportunities”

We met Asif just before the lunch rush. He was constantly moving around the kitchen of his restaurant, cutting lettuce and making sauces.

“I recognize him by the grace of God,” he said. “This is Greek House, 2654 West 4700 South, Taylorsville, Utah.”

He arrived in the United States in 2014 as a refugee from Pakistan in hopes of paving the way for his wife and 18-month-old son. Asif expected they would join him soon after.

“We got married in 2011 and had our son in 2012. He was about a year and a half when I left him,” he said, adding that it was difficult to watch his son grow through. a screen.

“He was tired of talking to me on Skype, when I said, ‘Hey, talk to me on the phone,’ he said he was too tired and would talk to me when we were in person.”

Pakistani refugee finds support in Taylorsville

When the Pakistani refugee moved to Utah after living in a few other places, things fell into place for his restaurant.

“I said, the only skill I have is to cook good Greek food,” he said, learning about a friend’s skill after arriving in America. “There you go, I’m starting this restaurant. So far it’s been going well, people love my food, a lot of people are here because of my food.

Greek House opened in July 2020, amid the coronavirus pandemic. At that time, Chamber West and the Town of Taylorsville had a “buy local” program to help businesses in the town, which attracted Asif. At City Hall, he met with a state senator and the city’s director of economic and community development, Wayne Harper. They started talking and eventually the topic came to his family.

“He said, ‘I have a wife and a son, but they’re back in Pakistan and we couldn’t get them to come here even though we go through all the processes to do it,” Harper said.

“So I said, ‘I’m going to make a few calls and see if I can speed this up,'” Harper said.

Accelerated and Reunited

“I called Senator Romney’s office and spoke to [Romney’s Utah Affairs Director] Adam Gardiner and said, “Here’s a guy following the process.” He investigated and said, ‘Oh yeah, we’ve got to get this done. They contacted the State Department and things started to move really quickly after we made a few phone calls and explained the situation. “

In March, Asif’s wife and son reunited, almost 7 years after leaving Pakistan.

“I pray, God answered, and we finally got help and this is my family and I’m grateful to everyone who helped me on this journey,” Asif said.

Harper said he once went to Greek House to eat and find a very welcome surprise.

“I had gone a few times for his excellent Greek cuisine. And I walked in one day and he’s setting there one day with a woman and a young man, ”Harper said. “He stood up and said, ‘My wife! My son! They came yesterday, you have to meet them.

Asif called the reunion his dream come true.

What a community can do

“We put this local shopping program in place, and with the connection Winsten was able to make when he dropped his coupons in town, he forged that relationship and she went from there. The right people got involved and brought his wife and son here. It’s a touching story, it’s a shame it took 7 years, ”said Becky Guertler of Chamber West. “It is a testament to the power of what a city can do, what a chamber can do, what a community can do.”

Several people came for lunch while Asif spoke with KSL NewsRadio in his restaurant. Asif said it was because of his food.

“It’s consistency. The food that I prepare here will be offered to you every time you come here. I’m consistent on that and here I am, ”he said.

There are a lot of regulars, including Guertler, who was there at the opening with his son. “I love Greek food anyway and [my son] also love Greek cuisine. It sealed the deal for us, ”she laughed.

Faith and work

You can see the construction of the New Taylorsville Temple from the window of the Greek House. Asif said he grew up in Pakistan with a picture of the Salt Lake City Temple. His family is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but there are not many in Pakistan.

He also hopes to bring the rest of his siblings and parents here as well.

“They have a strong desire to come and see this temple,” he said. “This is my next goal. I miss my mom and sisters.

But being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ isn’t the only reason he feels at home in Utah.

“You know, when you get on a plane and you’re about to land in Utah, you know the feeling of peace when you’re home? This is how I feel. I feel at home here, I feel peace, ”he said.

Pakistani refugee, family blessings

He said that feeling is even greater now that his wife and son are here after all these years, and that they can now grow their family, and he can grow the restaurant.

“It’s amazing. It’s a dream come true. It’s a land of opportunity and you have to work for it,” he said.

“What he said is the key, that you show up and get the job done, because that’s when you see amazing things happen,” Guertler said.

Back in the kitchen, preparing the next plates of food, Asif paused to look at the temple again.

“There is always a time for your blessing, and now I continue to receive my blessing. Trials make you strong, and this is the time for me to obtain my blessings, ”he said.

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