Kebab shops that once shaped Istanbul dining-out culture face a formidable rival on their own turf – steak houses.
Kebab shops once shaped Istanbul’s dining-out culture, but they are now facing a formidable new rival on their own turf – steak houses.By focusing on the quality of meat and innovative ways to serve it, steak houses have built a reputation for pleasing both eyes and taste buds – but not wallets.“The future for kebab and doner shops is not very bright,” Ramazan Bingol, the owner of Ramazan Bingol restaurants, told the Anadolu Agency. “Steak culture is crushing the kebab right now.” Bingol likened the challenge posed to the arrival of hamburgers and fast food culture into Turkey in the 1980s.
Steak houses, however, are ruling the roost, especially among the richer segments of Turkish society. As competition increases, new players are entering the Turkish market – among them Dogus Holding, which paid US$6.8 million in 2011 to for a 50 percent share of Istanbul’s well-known steak house, Nusr-et. According to reports, Ali Sabanci, the owner of low-fare carrier Pegasus Airlines, is also looking for opportunities. “The reason for the increase in interest is the concept itself,” said steak house owner Asan. “Turkish people already love meat. We offered them quality meat and they came up with different ways to serve it.” Bingol agreed that steak houses exhibit a different ambience, and that’s the main reason why some Turks love to dine there. Gourmet Yasin said, however, that Turks love the kebab’s style of presentation and will not give up. “The new demand is limited to Istanbul and some big cities. For Anatolians, kebab shops still rule,” he said.