KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — It’s been a journey of several years full of falafels and love for the owner of Yassin’s Falafel House, who is now a United States citizen.

Yassin Terou was forced to leave Syria in 2011 because of war; relocating to Knoxville with only a suitcase and a few hundred dollars. For two years, Yassin ran a pop-up shop using two plastic tables – and eventually opened his downtown Knoxville restaurant.

A second Yassin’s Falafel House location opened in 2017 along North Peters Road.

Then, in 2018, Yassin’s was named ‘The Nicest Place in America’ by Reader’s Digest.

Now, after nine years, Yassin is officially a U.S. citizen.

WATE 6 On Your Side spoke with him after he returned from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services office in Nashville Tuesday night about his experience.

Yassin shared it was a dream come true.

“You’ve been dreaming about this for years and you feel you are part of the community you always felt the love with, but you didn’t have the document,” he said. “I wasn’t a citizen of that community but it’s always been your heart, your love, with this community and it’s where you feel you are from.”

Yassin went on to say they are now the “American Falafel” and he also wants to “make Knoxville the Falafel City.”

He also thanked everyone who has supported him along the way.