Happy New Year, everyone!
We’re back, and there seems to be no shortage of news or changes. I’m breathless just thinking about it. Anyhow, here are some moves happening throughout the Mission.
Gyros and Tzatziki
It’s a Turkish delight.
A Greek and Turkish-inspired eatery, Gyros and Tzatziki, makes a home on 3111 24th St., in Ritu Indian Soul Food’s former location. The Mediterranean fare is the brainchild of Cem Bulutoglu, a Turkish refugee who couldn’t talk faster if God gave him an extra tongue.
It appears to match Bulutoglu’s primary mode: “Hustle.” Though he just opened Dec. 27, he says he’s already befriended the folks across the street at Sidewalk Juice and presented his gyros to “the bar with the big ‘49ers painting” (Ruth’s at Treat Street). He researched his neighbors and 24th Street, and was eventually sold on the corridor’s diverse food scene, its proximity to BART, the bus station, and Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. (He’s sure folks must ride transit, and they’ll stop by, right?)
He’s determined to know everyone on the block, build up his community, and cater to the Latinx residents, which explains his version of “tacos” on the menu. (“It’s in the Top 5” most popular dishes, Bulutoglu said.) It’s slowly starting to work. Already, he’s noticed regulars. Even on the night of the storm on Wednesday, neighbors filled the room.
“It’s better than I expected, even though it’s raining, and the holidays,” Bulutoglu said.
Bulutoglu and his family fled Turkey in 2000, when he was just 18. He enrolled at the Community College of San Mateo, and eventually was confronted with a choice: Study IT, or go into the restaurant business to earn money right away. He chose the latter, and worked his way up from being a restaurant server in San Jose to co-owner of a Greek restaurant in San Francisco’s Castro District, where he remained employed for some nine years.
The entrepreneur parted ways with that eatery and set his sights on opening his own place. His moneymaker is his gyros — his favorite is the beef and lamb one — but he offers falafel for vegans, and he praises the spot’s signature tzatziki salad, made from his mother’s recipe. Did she teach him? “No, but I watched,” he said.
Though the restaurant’s menu is primarily Greek, a cuisine that locals may embrace more readily, he said, a couple dishes are distinctly Turkish, like the yogurt drink called aryan. As is typical with other Mediterranean or Middle-Eastern dishes, the yogurt is sour; this tends to catch some off guard.
“I always ask people, have you had it? I don’t want them to go, ‘what the hell did you just give me?’” Bulutoglu joked. Yet it’s a drink familiar to his staff and chef, all Turkish friends he met over the years. “You know how it goes,” he said.
For right now, Gyros and Tzatziki offers dine-in and takeout, but soon it’ll be available on the usual food delivery apps and open for catering. More decorations will arrive, though he’s already painted the place blue and white, reminiscent of Greece. “Once I started, I just didn’t stop.”
During the storm on Wednesday, a wicked wind blew off a building’s scaffolding at 986 South Van Ness Ave. near 21st Street, where a five-story residential building will go up.
The developer of the project is Eastwood Development. They did not give many details on the loss of the scaffolding.
Anybody who’s passed by knows that the construction is coming along. Construction permits were approved in December 2020, and 15 condominiums are en route to be built. The lot used to house a former auto repair shop that was demolished to make room for the condominiums. But these days, a solid building structure of multiple stories is there. Slowly, slowly, it’s getting there.
Bissap Baobab shows love with new lunch menu
Bissap Baobab is showing big love to the community with a new lunch menu that launches Monday.
A few sandwiches pay homage to longtime Mission organizations, including the Mission Economic Development Agency (the Generous Meda.Lito, a ham and cheese) and the Calle 24 Latino Cultural District (the Caille-24, a BLTA). The beverage menu honors local businesses like Chely’s Salon and Ana’s Salon.
While the West African restaurant, bar and club surely isn’t the first eatery to honor others with its food selection, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter to community members. Kevin Ortiz, who works closely with Bissap Baobab owner Marco Senghor, was elated to discover he was honored with the Super Kev Moringa smoothie.
“What a honor and privilege!” according to the Facebook post of Ortiz, who is also president of the San Francisco Latinx Democratic Club. “Thank you my dear friend, Marco”.