4 October 2023

Time running out for Zeytin fans, with the great Turkish restaurant trucking off

| Chris Johnson
Man in dark glasses serving up a board of food.

Metin Baran will soon be closing his Zeytin Turkish Cuisine restaurant. Photo: Region.

Lovers of fine Turkish cuisine will soon be in mourning, with one of Canberra’s best restaurants to close its doors.

Zeytin Turkish Cuisine in ​​Trevillian Quay on the Kingston Foreshore will be closed in a matter of weeks.

Its owner and head chef Metin Baran is opting for a lifestyle change and will soon move to Sydney to operate a Turkish street food truck at festivals, events and recreational locations under the banner of the established Mr Shish franchise.

Not a little food van, but a decent-sized truck equipped with a commercial kitchen and able to cater for big crowds.

“I have to get my truck licence,” Metin laughs.

“It’s greater than four-and-a-half tonnes, so I need a different licence to drive it – a light truck licence.

“I want a whole new adventure. It’s time to change my life.”

Zeytin opened in Canberra late in 2019, only to be faced with a smoke-filled city from bushfires raging across the region soon after.

Then came the pandemic and all its lockdowns and restrictions keeping customers away.

But through it all, Metin kept his focus and built the restaurant into one of Canberra’s must-eat dining locations.

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His secret, he says, is ensuring the culture of his country can be tasted in every bite of his food.

“My goal was to bring genuine Turkish food and culture to Canberra and I think I have achieved that,” Metin said.

“The staff have been great and have worked really hard. Canberrans have been wonderful and we have had many loyal customers returning regularly.

“Plus we have people coming regularly from Sydney and elsewhere to dine here.

“When people come to Canberra from overseas, they are often brought here by their friends. And diplomats have loved this place.

“But there have been lots of challenges and we have met them head on and survived. We’ve done well, all things considering.

“I have reached the point though, where I want a change in lifestyle. I have put my whole self into this restaurant and have greatly enjoyed it.

“But now I feel like it is time for a change – a change for me.”

Metin has sold his restaurant – kind of.

New owners will take on their own lease of the premises and open a new restaurant with another style of cuisine altogether.

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“I’m not selling a Turkish restaurant, I’m selling all my restaurant stuff,” Metin said.

“I promised myself that I wouldn’t sell my restaurant to someone from another culture to run. That would only mean the culture of the restaurant gets lost.

“I have seen it happen too many times, where a successful restaurant built around the owner’s culture sells to someone from another culture and then the whole standard of food and experience changes.

“I didn’t want that for my restaurant. I am very proud of my country’s culture and I am proud to have been able to share some of it with the Canberra community.

“And I am very happy for the new restaurant owner to bring their style of food to these premises.”

The word zeytin is Turkish for olive, which is a staple on the restaurant’s menu, and Metin says everything about the restaurant he built lets patrons know a little more about his country.

Zeytin has just been named a finalist in the 2023 Canberra Region Local Business Awards and Metin says the restaurant will stay open right up to the moment he hands over the keys and leaves.

“This past month has been crazy busy,” he says.

“Besides keeping the restaurant running, I have set myself three goals. First, to pass my Australian citizenship test, which I have just done. Second is to get the settlement completed on this sale. And third is to get my truck licence.”

If you want to try Zeytin Turkish Cuisine before it closes later this month, you will find them at 28/6 Trevillian Quay, Kingston. It is open for dinner from Tuesday to Sunday and for lunch on Fridays and Saturdays. Phone (02) 6179 3824 for bookings.

Original Article published by Chris Johnson on Riotact.

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