It’s not often that religion and small business ownership conflict, but that was exactly the case for Karim BenBrahim.
BenBrahim is the owner and chef at Oasis Resturant and Catering in SLO. The restaurant has been in the BenBrahim family for 22 years and has been in its downtown location on Higuera Street for more than 15 years.
While any local restaurant owner will tell you that SLO residents love a nice craft beer or wine to go along with their meal, BenBrahim and his wife, Chantale, were torn over the idea because of their Muslim faith.
“As a Muslim, we are not supposed to sell alcohol,” BenBrahim said. “But at the same time, you want customers to be happy.”
The solution came after BenBrahim sought advice from his mosque’s imam, who suggested a way to keep the tenets of his religion and still be able to give Oasis customers a satisfying dining experience.
“I heard from the imam that it would be OK to sell [alcohol] as long as we didn’t keep the profit,” he said.
With a solution in hand, it was time to find an organization to donate the money to. The BenBrahims settled on CASA of San Luis Obispo County. CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) is a nonprofit organization that trains and provides volunteers to represent the needs of abused and neglected children in in the county’s court system.
CASA of SLO County announced its partnership with the restaurant in October and will be holding an event at the establishment on Dec. 7, according to the nonprofit’s Facebook page.
“It’s one of the best nonprofits in SLO County,” BenBrahim said. “When customers come in, we tell them that the profits from our alcohol sales go to CASA. It makes them very happy. They love it.”
CASA of SLO County President Teresa Tardiff said she and the organization were thankful for the support.
“This is such a unique way for a local business to support children in need in our community,” Tardiff said in a written statement to New Times. “We serve over 200 children a year and, like many nonprofits, need sustainable streams of funding so that we can focus on serving children, rather than raising money.”