Hayes & Kebab, a Hayes Valley restaurant demolished to make way for new construction, has resurfaced in the Mission as Valencia & Kebabs at 525 Valencia St.. It is taking over the former location of the Indian restaurant Gajalee.
“It’s how we cook food in Kurdistan,” explained Emin Tekin, who along with his brother Bawer co-owns the restaurant as well as Kobani Mediterranean Grill in the Marina at Scott and Chestnut. He described the menu at Valencia & Kebabs as Kurdish-Mediterranean, noting that while Mediterranean is a generic word for a large region, the cuisine of that region varies by country.
Emin and Bawer Tekin have been in San Francisco for 17 years, first opening Hayes & Kebab in 2006. That restaurant closed in 2009, but re-opened at Hayes and Laguna later that year. In 2015, the brothers opened Kobani with a location in Berkeley in April and Marina in July.
Hayes & Kebab was forced to leave its namesake in Hayes Valley when the building was torn down for a five-story mixed-use building. While the owners still hope to return to Hayes Valley, two-month-old Valencia & Kebab will remain regardless of whether the Hayes location resurfaces.
Tekin said that he “always wanted to be on Valencia.” Many of his customers in Hayes Valley lived in the Mission, so it seemed like a good fit, he said. The high rents failed to discourage him and he said that, with Valencia & Kebabs being a larger space, the cost is about the same as Kobani’s location in Marina.
Tekin explained that he strives to foster the neighborhood environment that marked Hayes & Kebab. “I like [having a] one-to-one connection,” he said, adding that his customers value the family vibe and comfortable atmosphere. He called the people who come there “all very friendly”.
First-time customers Becca Furr and Bridget Loper liked Tekin’s personal approach saying that Tekin was very “attentive” throughout their meal, from inviting them to hang out there any time to helping with the Wi-Fi to offering complimentary baklava.
Both Taylor Daley and Linda Dangler work nearby and have ordered take-out multiple times. Customers cited the healthy food as their motivation for coming, and all described the food as “fresh.”
“[Valencia & Kebabs is]… vibrant, full of light,” claimed Daley. The service, according to Furr and Loper, is “wonderful”. If personal interaction isn’t enough motivation, customers may seek out Valencia & Kebabs for the simple reason Dangler gives: “[the food] tastes good”.