‘You can still feel him in here,’ Fayth Jefferson says of her brother Bishop Omar Jahwar.
Walking in to The Five Experience in the Cedars, you can’t help but notice that this bar-turned-restaurant feels like a church. There’s a stage at the front, with concert-style lighting. In shiny letters, the stage says “Bishop Omar Jahwar,” and nearby, there’s a photo of the smiling preacher, dressed in a bright red shirt with a cross around his neck.
It is a restaurant, but with a mission: The Five is a place built on Christian values and serves Southern brunch dishes like chicken and waffles and Italian favorites like chicken Alfredo pasta. Customers don’t have to worship, but it’s hard not to feel some kind of spirit.
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“It will always be a positive place,” says Jahwar’s younger sister, Fayth Jefferson.
Activist and Kingdom War Legacy Church Christian minister Omar Mulidna Jahwar got the lease on this spot — the former Full Circle Tavern — before the pandemic. The plan to open the restaurant was stalled more than once, but Jahwar was often inside it, recording his Sunday services from the restaurant’s stage even when the rest of the room was empty.
When The Dallas Morning News reached out to Jahwar to learn more about his coming-soon restaurant, we received the news from his sister. “The unthinkable happened,” Jefferson says: On March 11, 2021, the 47-year-old father of four died. He had been hospitalized for six months with COVID-19 complications.
“We’re here now,” she says, standing in the restaurant. “And we are moving his vision forward.”
On Saturday, May 1, The Five Experience will host Best Friends and Brunch featuring the band Soulful Sounds. Jefferson is sad that Jahwar won’t be there to taste the food and share in a spiritual brunch with friends and strangers. But she thinks he’d be proud.
“Every seed he planted, he left somebody to nurture it and water it,” Jefferson says. “It was beautiful to see.”
She’s taking over the restaurant with the help of executive chef Keyonna Grant and executive manager Jasmine Howard. Jahwar’s wife of 20 years, Anita, has taken over his ministry as pastor-elect at Kingdom War Legacy Church.
The restaurant gets its name from the five principals dear to Omar Jahwar: social interaction, social services, social networking, enhanced worship experiences and soul winning (which Jefferson describes as “gaining souls through Christ”). The idea of The Five, Jefferson says, is that teaching and preaching these tenets “could bring the kingdom of heaven to Earth.”
The restaurant has partnered with Cafe Momentum, a group that gives jobs to young men and women who have served time in juvenile facilities. Several of The Five’s servers and cooks are Cafe Momentum interns.
That would’ve made Omar Jahwar happy, his friends and family say. He operated a gang intervention program called Vision Regeneration. It evolved into a bigger effort called Urban Specialists, aimed at stopping violence.
Chef Grant created the menu, which leans on her French culinary background from Le Cordon Bleu. The Five is focused on being a breakfast and brunch spot, especially on weekends. There will be music and dinner in the evenings.
Some of Omar Jahwar’s inspiration for the restaurant came from his dad, Larry Jefferson, a pastor who operated a Christian restaurant named The Butterfly Place in the ‘90s in Dallas. Omar Jahwar worked alongside his dad for years before taking over his ministry.
When family members and staffers would visit Omar Jahwar in the hospital, they kept him updated on the plans for his beloved The Five Experience. Howard remembers visiting him in early March, not long before he died.
“I said, ‘Bishop, we’re doing a tasting,’” she told him. “And he just had the biggest grin.”