A takeaway and restaurant dedicated to all things halloumi has opened in Worthing town centre today (Monday, October 21).
Tucked away in Warwick Lane, on the corner of Ann Street, Halloumilicious offers a range of weird and wonderful dishes based on the popular Cypriot product, from burgers in a rainbow-coloured bagel to halloumi doughnuts and ice cream studded with finely grated pieces of the cheese.
It is the first shop the street food business has opened, having proven popular with Worthing residents at events including the Worthing Food and Drink Festival.
Joel Ariaman is the man behind the business. Speaking before the opening, the 34-year-old from West Street, Sompting, said: "I'm feeling excited and looking forward to driving the business forward in a different direction.
"Two years ago when I started, I was getting a lot of people coming up to me and asking what halloumi was. Now everyone knows it."
The entrepreneur, who also runs a wedding events company, was inspired by his father's Persian roots to set up the business.
He said: "We started off at food markets and small events just to see if it would work. We got such a good response that we took it that step further, doing larger festivals and pop-ups in Worthing, serving our famous three-course halloumi menus."
He said the secret to their success was frying the halloumi rather than grilling it, and then coating it in their blend of sumac: a zesty reddish seasoning used in Middle Eastern cuisine.
The Warwick Lane eatery has room for 20 people to eat upstairs, plus some outdoor seats, and Joel - who runs the business entirely by himself - will be advertising for jobs in the coming weeks, he said.
Having moved from Hove three years ago, Joel said the loyalty of his Worthing customers and the growing 'foodie' scene in the town centre was what made him choose Worthing over Brighton for his first café, or 'halloumi hut' as he called it.
He said: "Worthing is getting amazing for food, particularly street food businesses moving into restaurants. I'm following that trend a bit."
His friends and family warned him against opening a restaurant now, with the current financial uncertainty regarding Brexit, but Joel said he liked a challenge.
"It is a bit of a gamble, but you just have to get on with life and not hold you back," he said.
Halloumilicious is open from 12pm to 3pm and 5pm to 9pm, Monday to Friday, 12pm to 9pm on Saturday and 12pm to 5pm on Sunday.