A NEW Middle Eastern-themed restaurant is serving up “a healthy alternative” to fast food as its owner celebrates her Moroccan roots.

Sababa, in Clifftown Road, Southend, is named after the Arabic and Hebrew word meaning “cool” - chosen to reflect the café’s “chilled out” atmosphere.

It opened on Wednesday and is already getting “really good” feedback from happy diners.

It is the brainchild of Ella Sisso and her fiancé, Jack Alcock, as the couple has “always wanted” to open their own restaurant.

Echo: Open - Sababa is opposite Southend Central Station.Open - Sababa is opposite Southend Central Station. (Image: Kerstin Deacon)

Ella, whose father comes from Morocco, grew up surrounded by varied Middle Eastern cuisine, regularly visiting London to enjoy freshly made falafel.

Now, she hopes to bring that familiar taste to Southend, aided by supportive fiancé Jack.

Jack, 35, says he and Ella, 32, are often “stuck” when looking for a quick but healthy bite.

Therefore, they seized the opportunity to use Ella’s family recipes and offer something new to commuters heading out of Southend Central Station just across the road.

He said: “We were always stuck for quick food that wasn’t super unhealthy. We wanted something to grab and go that wasn’t chicken and chips or a burger.

“I’m confident we’re offering something that was missing.”

Dishes include freshly made hummus, falafel, and signature pastries.

Echo: Fast food - the café hopes to cater to commuters and passers-by.Fast food - the café hopes to cater to commuters and passers-by. (Image: Jack Alcock)

Jack added: “We’re trying to show people falafel is not those dry things you buy at the supermarket. It’s much more wholesome than that – and is served with fresh pittas and salad.”

Because of its prime spot in the city centre, Jack and Ella hope to catch early-morning commuters in search of “good-quality coffee” and a bite to eat.

Jack - who has brought his previous business, Good Grind Coffee Co, into the café - added: “We’re open from 7am on weekdays, so we’re hopeful commuters can enjoy good-quality coffee roasted about a mile from our door.”

Sababa uses freshly roasted coffee from Little Fin Roastery on the Temple Farm Industrial Estate in Southend. The café has its own special blend, exclusively for Sababa customers.

But Sababa does not just cater to foodies and coffee lovers – it also serves a variety of cocktails.

Jack added: “We want it to be a chilled place to enjoy a drink without having to scream over chart-topping music.”