A Message of Love and Appreciation


The buzz of cheerful camaraderie filled the air, an elf surrounded by children created balloon art, and Santa passed out gifts as members of the 3rd Battalion, 304th Regiment (USMA), 2nd Brigade, 104th Training Division (LT) celebrated the holiday season at the Tiqa Pan Mediterranean restaurant, 327 Commercial St. in Portland, Maine.

Tiqa is owned by Deen Haleem and his wife Carol Mitchell. Tiqa closed its doors to the public during the normally busy Sunday brunch hours on December 11th to host the party to honor the Soldiers and Families of the 3-304th. 

Tiqa’s employees even gave their time for free to prepare, cook for, serve at, and clean up the party.  When asked why they were so eager to volunteer, the answer seems to be unanimous. “It’s our way of giving back, to say thank you for the sacrifices the Soldiers make for us,” employees said.

Deen Haleem is not only a successful business owner, he is also a Soldier of the 3-304th. Master Sgt. Haleem continues to serve his country as well as run his restaurant.

CSM Kevin Pattershall and LTC James Gormly. Photo courtesy Jim Britt, Tiqa Public Relations

“I can’t ever see myself not serving. I dropped out of high school at 17 and joined the Marine Corps,” Haleem said. “I’ve been in 35 years now between the Marine Corps and the Army. When I look at what the Marine Corps and the Army has done for me, it’s gotten me my high school diploma and my college degree. They’ve opened doors for me that never would have been opened for a kid from the south side of Chicago. “

Tiqa opened its doors two years ago as a concept with respect to Pan Mediterranean.

Photo courtesy Jim Britt, Tiqa Public Relations

“Our business name Tiqa is from Deen’s service in Iraq,” Mitchell explains.  “Antica means Kabab in Iraqi slang. We wanted to introduce food from the Levant Region, North Africa and Southern Europe, all under one roof.”

Tiqa was a big part of his time in the Middle East Haleem explains.

“As anyone in the military knows, military food gets old very quickly. So [in Iraq] my ability to do tiqa runs was a big hit, so I would do a tiqa run on a regular basis. I love that name. It always brings great food to my mind.”

Soldiers and Families alike enjoyed the event and the general consensus was that the food was exceptional.

“The food [at Tiqa] is first class with a touch of home and you will enjoy it as much as the company seated with you,” enthused Jason Kenney, Family Readiness Group (FRG) Leader for 3-304th.

As the FRG Leader, Jason worked closely with Haleem and Mitchell and the 3-304th FRG volunteers to ensure the event was a success. Dollar Tree donated two pick-up truck loads of toys to the unit, which were packaged by the FRG and handed out by Santa to each child in attendance at the party.

Photos courtesy Jim Britt, Tiqa Public Relations

Lt. Col. James Gormly, 3-304th battalion commander, has a deep appreciation for the partnership between Tiqa and the FRG.

“Everyone looks forward to our Annual Holiday Party each year,” Gormly said.  We always share a real unit esprit de corps and fellowship in December. Master Sgt.  Haleem, his Family, and his staff have kindly opened their establishment to us and have worked with our battalion FRG every year to ensure that this holiday event is a great success. Everyone that I spoke to was positive and wants to attend each year in December. I know I will remember it always and cherish it because I was around the best Battalion FRG, Soldiers, and their Families. `

Although closing a popular establishment during a busy weekend dining time obviously affects income, Haleem doesn’t hesitate.

“Honestly, if it was 10 times what it is it wouldn’t matter,” Haleem said. “We feel honored that we have the privilege to do it. It’s not about money. It’s easy to give back. It’s my own unit, my own Soldiers. So it’s our way of giving back and we’re happy to do it.”

His wife was quick to agree.

Table of Honor inside Tiqa. Photos by Kelly Countryman, 104th Training Division (LT)

“We’re thankful to the men and women of the Armed Services and thankful for the sacrifices that they’ve made and the sacrifices their Families make,” stated Mitchell. “It’s a message of love and appreciation, it’s that simple.”


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