Zak and Yahya

Business Owners at Zak's Kebab House

Yahya has always worked as a chef as he loves the industry, he said it is a lot of fun but also very stressful. His culinary skills have taken him to many places, with once moving to Tennessee in the US for a couple of years. Zak was born during the Tennessee tenure but Yahya found it was not the safest place to raise his family so returned to Jordan.

Yahya had seen documentaries about New Zealand and read a lot about it. He loved the look of the scenery, the size, and how safe it appeared, so in 2011 he took a job and moved to the Franz Joseph to work as head chef. In 2014 he bought his son over to complete high school but finding the Franz Joseph too small and difficult for his schooling, moved to Christchurch where he attended Burnside High School. Zak loved going to Burnside High, saying he made great friends there and what a great school it was.

Zak went on to study Aviation Maintenance at the University in Ohio United States but as Zak puts it, “Covid took away the opportunity to progress in that career,” with Aviation taking a massive hit. However, he thinks that there is a potential to someday progress toward a career in that field.

Yahya always wanted his own business and said it can be very stressful working for other people, especially in the hospitality sector. Starting a business was not possible while supporting his son through school but he worked hard and saved, so once Zak had completed university, the time was right.

The start was hard, having opened their business right at the start of the first Covid lockdown. They both understand how hard it has been for many people and to help, they offer lunchtime specials of $12 off their menu providing an affordable option.

Zak and Yahya love producing great food and they are very proud of their 4.9 customer rating given this is an average from over 250 reviews. He said that tourists come in all the time and have seen their ratings online and they always leave top reviews.

Zak has the vision to expand when the time is right and thinks there is room to open another Zak’s Kebab House in central Christchurch and maybe another one in the suburbs. He said it is difficult getting staff and as they want to continue to deliver 110% for their customers so the timing is not quite right at this time to expand. However, they have expanded into catering and have catered for weddings, office gatherings, and even a Volleyball Team event.

We always like to know what our people like about Christchurch so when we asked, Zak said:

“We like everything, fantastic outdoors, the botanic gardens, even the smiles from our business neighbours.”

We then asked if there were any special places they like going to.

Zak said “Work” - We work seven days a week so it is difficult to go out”. Yahya piped up from the kitchen laughing and said, “We take one month off every year, and that’s enough”.

Zak said that he likes cars and in particular the 1967 Mustang Shelby GT 500.

“I still catch up with my schoolmates and we like to hang out and talk cars. I don’t get a lot of spare time as once I finish work, and change, it is already 8.30 pm”

Both Zak & Yahya work hard and with very little personal time, they always seem to have time to deliver a smile. They garner joy from delivering great food for our city and love the gratitude of satisfied customers.


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From the Cathedral Square markets to the Margaret Mahy playground, these beloved central city experiences always draw us back to the CBD.