Tripoli owners make ‘difficult decision’ to move Mediterranean grill

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Since opening in September 2011, the owners of the Mediterranean Grill and Coffee Shop in Tripoli have adapted their menu, added a cafe and weathered a pandemic. Throughout the pivots, serving as a bridge connecting East and West remains a priority. Now, as Tripoli approaches 11 years in business, the restaurant will once again move, this time from the Lackland area to the outside of the loop.

Howaida Werfelli, co-owner of Tripoli’s with her brothers Haitham Werfelli and Hesham Werfelli as well as Adam Hussein, will move the restaurant to the Alamo Ranch area by the fall. Howaida Werfelli cites a number of reasons for moving the restaurant from its current location at 322 Valley Hi Drive to 1726 Alamo Ranch, but narrows to create a more conducive path for Tripoli’s growth into the city.

“We are limited to what we can do (at the current location),” she says. “In order to continue to grow and for our community support to be greater than what it is, we need to make these tough decisions.”

Tripoli’s, which opened in 2011 on the southwest side, is moving to Alamo Ranch in the fall.

Courtesy, Marissa Simon Photo/@marissasimonphoto

The owner says philanthropy is important to the business. Ensuring Tripoli’s future success means they can continue to donate to organizations such as the San Antonio Food Bank, area PTA groups and local refugee organizations, she adds.

The southwest side will not be without Tripoli permanently. Howaida Werfelli says a second location and a return to District 4 is part of their multi-year framework. She says Councilor Dr. Adriana Rocha Garcia has supported the brand throughout her tenure and is connecting the Tripoli team with potential sites in the neighborhood where the restaurant can expand in years to come.

Tripoli's, which opened in 2011 on the southwest side, is moving to Alamo Ranch in the fall.

Tripoli’s, which opened in 2011 on the southwest side, is moving to Alamo Ranch in the fall.

Courtesy, Marissa Simon Photo/@marissasimonphoto

Tripoli's, which opened in 2011 on the southwest side, is moving to Alamo Ranch in the fall.

Tripoli’s, which opened in 2011 on the southwest side, is moving to Alamo Ranch in the fall.

Courtesy, Marissa Simon Photo/@marissasimonphoto

As the owners prepare for their 11-mile move, the owners reflect on the restaurant’s impact on San Antonio so far. Howaida Werfelli says they’ve seen their regulars’ families grow. She says one of their favorite interactions is with the serving military who work at nearby Joint Base San Antonio.

“A lot of them have been deployed, so they’ve traveled to those areas where we’re trying to bring that culture from,” she adds.

Tripoli's, which opened in 2011 on the southwest side, is moving to Alamo Ranch in the fall.

Tripoli’s, which opened in 2011 on the southwest side, is moving to Alamo Ranch in the fall.

Courtesy, Marissa Simon Photo/@marissasimonphoto

The owner says hearing the “happy stories” they share is a “good” contrast to the experiences that are usually tied to deployments.

“So when we hear that they’ve been able to interact with people and learn to love the culture, the language, and the food, that’s what I know,” Howaida Werfelli says. “I grew up with this culture and I know how generous Arabs are and how enthusiastic we are about feeding people and helping people. When they come back and tell us it’s is like, ‘OK, there’s hope. There’s hope that the good of our culture remains.'”

Tripoli's, which opened in 2011 on the southwest side, is moving to Alamo Ranch in the fall.

Tripoli’s, which opened in 2011 on the southwest side, is moving to Alamo Ranch in the fall.

Courtesy, Marissa Simon Photo/@marissasimonphoto

Howaida Werfelli says top reviews are where customers take pride in the authenticity of their food. She says not everyone is so familiar with cooking and the responsibility of introducing customers to a new part of the world is not beyond her. She laughs as she recalls their early years, when she felt San Antonio was less willing to explore cooking, but notices a change in recent years.

“We’ve seen it change, it’s one of those things where I laugh inside,” she laughs.

Tripoli's, which opened in 2011 on the southwest side, is moving to Alamo Ranch in the fall.

Tripoli’s, which opened in 2011 on the southwest side, is moving to Alamo Ranch in the fall.

Courtesy, Marissa Simon Photo/@marissasimonphoto

She says that during the genesis of Tripoli, the menu featured more food items that were “essentially” Libyan. Some closing times ended with intact food being thrown away.

“They didn’t want things they didn’t know,” says Howaida Werfelli. “Then all of a sudden I had people saying ‘How do you have no tabbouleh.’ So here we go back to the full menu that we had when we started, but San Antonio wasn’t ready at that time.”

Tripoli's, which opened in 2011 on the southwest side, is moving to Alamo Ranch in the fall.

Tripoli’s, which opened in 2011 on the southwest side, is moving to Alamo Ranch in the fall.

Courtesy, Marissa Simon Photo/@marissasimonphoto

Tripoli's, which opened in 2011 on the southwest side, is moving to Alamo Ranch in the fall.

Tripoli’s, which opened in 2011 on the southwest side, is moving to Alamo Ranch in the fall.

Courtesy, Marissa Simon Photo/@marissasimonphoto

Howaida Werfelli looks forward to continuing to serve as an ambassador for new flavors in the space to come. She says the Alamo Ranch restaurant will be similar in size to the current restaurant, but Tripoli’s at Town Center will offer a patio, which has become a relevant amenity in the pandemic era. The owners have been part of the new build from scratch and are working closely with Tammy Puente and Bill Walker of locally owned Ace Mart to ensure the new restaurant meets the needs of bringing Tripoli into its next time. Howaida Werfelli says the new excavations will give Tripoli the opportunity to expand the menu and offer a “slightly more robust” menu with more complex dishes.

“It’s always comforting to know that you have a base that will follow you,” she says. “I’m excited about the growth and I’m excited for San Antonio to experience it.”


The remains of Tripoli are open at its original location, 322 Valley Hi Drive.

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