With my few years spent in Greenwood, SC I met many interesting and important people. A restaurant I visited frequently called Kickers interested me. Their food had a very strong and unique taste. Chief Abdel Dimiati made something as simple as a cheese burger taste like it was from somewhere else. For my featured magazine writing class with Dr. Stevenson I wrote a story on how Kickers was started.
I preformed multiple interviews and did my own photography. My main goal for this article was to get it published with a local magazine. Writing about food and someone’s past was a different experience. It took me away from my usually habits of writing about sports. This article was just another lesson for me to understand being a Mass Comm major I have to be well balanced in all parts of media.
The Story of Kickers
In the small town of Greenwood, South Carolina, there is a hole in the wall restaurant just off Main Street called Kickers. The story behind this little place with big taste is very unique. The owner and only chef Abdel Dimiati is a former Lander University student athlete from Zimbabwe. His story from Zimbabwe to owning arguably the best restaurant in Greenwood is captivating.
Growing up in Zimbabwe, Abdel’s father owned a restaurant business and he grew up having the goal of one day owning his own restaurant as his father did. “I come from a restaurant family,” Abdel says. “It has always been a goal of mine to one day own one.” When it came time for Abdel to make his way to college, he ran into a Lander University professor named Dr. Kenneth Mufuka who recruits foreign exchange students to Greenwood. So, Abdel packed his bags and made his way to the great U.S. of A. Abdel’s first impression of his future home wasn’t the greatest. “I was looking at all the trees thinking where the heck were the skyscrapers and limos,” Abdel says while laughing. “I expected what you saw in the movies, not this.”
The Zimbabwe’s native college career included a busy life. Abdel would go on to make the Lander Men’s Soccer team and letter multiple years. At one point in his college experience, Abdel had 3 jobs and had to play soccer while majoring in Accounting. He would explain, “I knew if I wanted to learn how to run a restaurant, I would have to learn the business side of it.” Growing up in the restaurant business, it was only natural that Abdel’s jobs here in America involved working at restaurants in Greenwood. He started from the bottom as a dish boy and worked his way up the ladder of success. “Yeah Yeah, I had no time for anything but work in my college years,” Abdel laughed. Eventually, he became a general manager of the first upscale restaurant in Greenwood called Nickers. With all the success in work Abdel, decided to put college aside and focus on making a living in the restaurant business. “Never graduated college, I was just busy,” Abdel explains. “Never really thought about going back. I’m doing just fine without a degree.” His life would change forever working at Nickers.
Abdel Dimiati met a server at Nickers named Andrea. They would later get married and go on to run their own small restaurant. Abdel and his wife Andrea would open the little place with big taste and call it Kickers. “I chose to name it Kickers because people would be able to connect Nickers with Kickers,” Abdel states. “Also, my food has a little bit of a kick to it.” Growing up in Zimbabwe, Abdel was around food flavored with spices. He includes many spices in all of his dishes at Kickers. He also makes sure all of the meats are organic and grass fed meats. The dishes at Kickers range from salads to wraps to unique burgers. Opening a small restaurant these days is a true challenge. With so many of them closing, it’s hard to keep a non-chain restaurant open. Kickers succeeds at that with its unique dish ideas. “You have to have a niche,” Abdel remarks. “You have to have something people keep wanting to come back for. That’s where my ideas come from for the Sun-Dance Burger and Greek Fold. Also with my soups.”
Abdel is a very rare owner of a restaurant as he cooks, manages and does the books. The American dream of one day franchising Kickers is his ultimate goal. The way Abdel plans to succeed in his goal is with customer satisfaction. He makes sure consistency is important. “You see, customers want consistency,” Abdel says. “They want the same great tasting dishes every time.” In order to keep the customers that travel from Spartanburg, Greenville and Greenwood satisfied, Abdel must arrive at Kickers at 6 a.m. every morning to prep the food for the day’s work ahead. His wife Andrea arrives around 9 a.m. to help prepare the rest of the kitchen. They have a very effective system. Abdel cooks all the meats and fries all the food while Andrea preps the dishes. It’s frantic to watch and listen to as they are constantly yelling out orders while the lunch rush of 50 plus people wait on their food. “It’s a whole other challenge working with my wife,” Abdel continues jokingly. “I’m the boss at work and she is the boss at home, it works out very well.” That sure is true, as the Dimiati’s are raising three kids back at their household.
Abdel Dimiati went from being raised in Zimbabwe to owning one of the most popular hole in the wall restaurants in the Lake Lands area. To having a very positive review from Urbanspoon.com and being published in multiple magazines in South Carolina, Kickers is well on it’s way to becoming even more popular. For being such a small place with big taste, Kickers sure does have a very impressive story.