A barbecue chicken shop owner who dances to trance music in a gold top hat has taken his humble takeaway joint to viral internet fame.
Waleed “Wally” Khawli opened Mama’s BBQ Chicken and Salad Bar, in the outer-Melbourne suburb of Endeavour Hills, with his parents three years ago, when business was paltry.
But things plucked up takeaway restaurant a few months ago when Mr Khawli began filming himself doing the chicken dance and shouting the slogan, “Flavour! Flavour! Flavour!” and posting the footage to Facebook.
“[When] we came here, the shop was run-down. It took a while to build up over a couple of years a fair bit, and then I was going to sell up because it wasn’t really taking off,” Mr Khawli told The New Daily.
Mr Khawli considered his options, and worried what else he would do for work as someone with learning difficulties who cannot read or write.
He decided to put all of his eggs in one basket and put everything into Mama’s.
The food that gives you energy mama's BBQ chicken and salad bar 51 Heatherton Road Endeavour Hills
Posted by Mama's BBQ Chicken & Salad Bar on Tuesday, August 8, 2017
“I started [wondering], ‘How am I going to get my name out, how am I going to get my food out? How am I going to get people to know there’s good food here, I want people to know. The area is slow, how am I going to do it?
“So I started dancing around like a chicken, [doing] dance moves, eating the food, showing them it’s there – the flavours are there, it’s nice and juicy [food].”
Mr Khawli started dancing on camera late last year, and the videos took flight around Easter this year.
Mama’s BBQ Chicken and Salad Bar now has more than 20,000 likes on Facebook, and his videos are watched by up to one million people.
People from all over the country, as far as Perth, have travelled to Endeavour Hills for a taste of the chicken, Mr Khawli said.
He makes up his moves on the spot and wings the choreography, he said.
“Most of the time, the first video I do – I hit it.”
Mr Khawli said he thinks the videos have resonated with people because he’s not taking himself too seriously.
“Because I’m happy and I think I bring alive people, they look forward … to seeing a video from me. Because I’m out there, I’m enjoying myself while I’m working. It’s entertaining at the same time.”
Fans recognise him on the street, and greet him by crowing, “Flavour! Flavour! Flavour!”.
“And I repeat it back to them: ‘Flavour! Flavour! Flavour!’ – 51 Heatherton Road, Endeavour Hills’.”
He said it was an “unbelievable” feeling to have so many people tune into watch him dance like a chicken.
“I love it, I love when people are like, ‘What a legend, good on him getting out there’. It’s good.”
But the videos have also ruffled feathers, with some making salty comments and prank calls.
“You get your bad people, they like writing stuff – bad stuff – but I don’t take notice,” Mr Khawli said.