Community raises nearly $20,000 for local restaurant after driver crashes into building

Community fundraises for damaged restaurant
Community fundraises for damaged restaurant
Community fundraises for damaged restaurant
Posted at 5:25 PM, Feb 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-04 19:56:49-05

BOISE, Idaho — Boise's Tarbush Kitchen is temporarily closed after a suspected drunken driver crashed into the building's dining room Sunday night.

But a mass of community support hopes to get the kitchen back up and running.

Police responded to Tarbush Kitchen at around 11 p.m. Sunday after a man drove through a nearby fence into the building's dining room. Police said evidence indicated the driver was intoxicated and was taken into custody.

When Tarbush's owners, Salam and Aseel Bunyan, got the call, their hearts sank.

"The first day, I was just shocked," Salam Bunyan said in an interview with Idaho News 6. "My wife, every half-hour, asks, 'Are you OK? Don't worry. It doesn't matter. We can start again.' I tell her I'm OK, but it's not easy."

Bunyan said he and his wife, Aseel, had only left the restaurant an hour before the police called.

Shortly after, the family posted on the restaurant's social media pages about the incident and received dozens of comments in support.

To help pay for the damages, which Bunyan's insurance agency is still assessing, Salam's daughter launched a GoFundMe account.

The support has been overwhelming, Bunyan said. In just 24 hours, the page had raised over $10,000. By Friday afternoon, community donations had reached nearly $20,000 — only $5,000 shy of the family's goal.

"People are calling. People are coming here. If you come here for an hour, you see three or four families coming with an envelope to help," he said. "People want to help me with the trash or building, and they text me every day. I'm proud. This is my home."

Bunyan is a refugee from Iraq and has been cooking for over two decades. Before opening Tarbush, Bunyan was a chef and owner of The Goodness Land, another Mediterranean and Middle Eastern restaurant on Overland Road. He opened Tarbush Kitchen opened in late 2019 and has grown ever since.

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Bunyan said his family loves living in the Treasure Valley and that Boise is the most loving community he has ever seen.

"I have seen most the states," he said. "You don't find a community that is as clean, helpful, and loves like Boise, no way."