Good Neighbors

Having a Quiet Home to Rest and Relax is Essential to this Resident of Avenue Apartments

CHT 12/21
CHT 12/21
previous arrow
next arrow


[Note: On August 12, 2023, Ahmed Omar died in his sleep unexpectedly. Our thoughts are with his family and many friends. A GoFundMe page has been set up to support them in this difficult time.]

Ahmed Omar’s favorite thing about his family’s Champlain Housing Trust home in Burlington isn’t some fancy home amenity or appliance.

“It’s a quiet place with good neighbors. I usually come home late, sometimes three in the morning. I can just go right to sleep.”

Having a quiet home to rest and relax is essential for this owner of Kismayo Kitchen and resident of Avenue Apartments; his work days are long. During this past year, Omar (who goes by his last name) has often found himself working 14 hour shifts at his popular Riverside Avenue restaurant in Burlington.

“In life you know you must work hard, but at the end of the day I know that I have to take care of myself. My home is great for that.”

Omar has been living in CHT housing for eight years. His income wasn’t enough to afford rent prices in Burlington’s tight housing market. The affordable rent for his family’s home at Avenue Apartments provided him with stability to build his life and his business.

“It’s great. I love the way CHT takes care of their houses and the way they operate.”

He appreciates how well maintained the property is and the responsiveness of staff.

Omar opened Kismayo Kitchen in 2019 serving a collection of dishes from his native Somalia and putting a new spin on American classics like their very popular Philly Cheesesteak.

“The city needs something special. Some unique food and multicultural cuisine.”

Omar picked up his cooking style through family. His mother and grandmother were both chefs. He further refined his skills in cooking school. It’s something he loves to share. He creates videos on his YouTube page and has developed a strong following on Snapchat and TikTok. He’s also taught cooking classes at City Market in Burlington.

“I had it in my DNA and background that I would be a chef. Some of the recipes that I am cooking are more than a hundred years old.”

That family-inspired cooking style has resonated with the community as Kismayo has built a strong following with locals and visitors alike. Omar is excited to see returning customers who know they’ll get a great meal at Kismayo.

“It’s a place that when you come, we make sure you’re getting quality food and good customer service. When people come, they come back right away. As a chef, that’s one of the things that makes me the happiest and lets me know I’ve done a good job. It’s about consistency.”

Omar is always focused on what comes next. He’s looking to hire more staff so that he can expand and not have to work such long days. He won’t be working like this forever, but for now he’s proud to have created a restaurant with such a strong following.

“I’m blessed. People love it.”