The first Yalla Yalla, in Green’s Court, Soho, was opened in late 2008 by chef Jad Youssef and his partner Aga Ilska. Beirut-born Jad met Aga, who is Polish, while the two worked in a central London Lebanese restaurant – she ran the front-of-house while he was in the kitchen.
Their dream and their passion was to open their own business, and when the tiny Soho site became available they jumped at the opportunity even though it is only 28 seats, the first Yalla Yalla was an instant hit with the local Soho crowd, and the couple soon started looking for a second location.
The opportunity to create a larger restaurant, just north of busy Oxford Street, arose in early 2010, and Yalla Yalla in Winsley Street opened in late 2010. The template for informal Lebanese and other Middle Eastern cuisine has provided Jad and Aga with the eagerness to spread the Yalla Yalla concept even further, and they are actively looking for additional restaurant sites in London.