Tea with Tekin

by Mari Hunter

I sat down with Bawer Tekin the other evening to discuss one of the newest additions to Hayes Valley, Hayes & Kebab. Tekin, a Kurd from Turkey came to the States fourteen years ago. He started in Florida but relocated to San Francisco in 1999 after visiting a friend. His brother Emin followed him to San Francisco shortly after. Within a few years of working at an Italian restaurant in Burlingame, opportunity knocked when the Brazilian restaurant at Hayes and Laguna (now Café Altano) went up for sale. Not a stranger to the restaurant business, Bawer seized the opportunity but after a few years and a downturn in the economy, he decided to sell the restaurant, travel abroad and do a little research.

Upon returning to the States, Bawer returned to Hayes Valley when space became available in 2006 at Hayes and Gough and Hayes & Kebab was born. Business was great but unfortunately, the lease was not—either he had to turn over half the business or lose the lease. With several families invested in the restaurant, turning over half of the business was not an option. Fortunately, by the summer of 2009, a new space became available and the Tekin brothers moved Hayes & Kebab to Hayes and Laguna. Over the next year, permits, zoning, and changes in business concepts kept the Tekin brothers busy with various City departments, but with help of many family members and the original Hayes & Kebab team, the new Hayes & Kebab opened in December 2010 and has been booming. Bawer’s mission statement, “give and then you receive. It’s the attitude, food, love and care, and everything” that brings people to Hayes & Kebab. Case in point, Bawer has, quite successfully, made the most of the parking lot to create a welcoming seating area to enjoy the delicious lamb and beef gyros. For the eco and health conscious crowd, you’ll be pleased to know that the countertops and tables are of recycled wood from the reconstruction and the healthy home recipes are fresh every day. Afiyet olsun!

Hayes & Kebab, 582 Hayes Street @ Laguna