A falafel house in Knoxville, Tennessee owned and operated by a Syrian refugee, has been named the "nicest place in America" by Reader's Digest.
It's a friendly competition that was created "...in response to the current climate of cultural and political divide."
At a time when feel-good stories can seem to be in short supply, Reader's Digest launched the search, inviting Americans to nominate their picks for the places where, quite simply, "people are kind and treat each other with respect."
For its second edition, the nationwide search received nearly 450 submissions. A shortlist of 10 places chosen by editors was announced in June, and the public was invited to vote. After considering the outcome of the 62,000 votes and the input of judges who included "Good Morning America" co-anchor Robin Roberts, editors chose Yassin's Falafel House as the overall winner.
Founded by Syrian refugee Yassin Terou, the restaurant is described as a "pillar" of the Knoxville community; a "safe house" where people of all stripes and colors can simply sit down to a good meal.
The restaurant also employs refugees like Terou, to help them get on their feet.
Other finalists in the competition the city of Bothell, WA, where every May 10 has been designated as Cup of Kindness Day and the city of Kalamazoo, MI, where high school students will receive free tuition to a state college if they keep their grades up.