New Turkish restaurant Tantuni opens after epic expansion

Gurbet and Amy Yüksel, outside Tantuni, New George Street, Plymouth -Credit:William Telford
Gurbet and Amy Yüksel, outside Tantuni, New George Street, Plymouth -Credit:William Telford

Here is a restaurant that is full of Turkish delight. Street food seller Tantuni has become the latest culinary business to expand from a Plymouth Market stall into a fully fledged restaurant.

The brainchild of Gurbet and Amy Yüksel, Tantuni, named after a traditional Turkish wrap, started in the pannier market five years ago and was soon a huge hit. And after successful trading, and plaudits on Tripadvisor, the couple have taken to leap into relocating and opened a restaurant fronting onto New George Street.

They have taken over the unit, next to the market entrance, emptied when GameZone moved out. It means Gurbet and Amy have double the space they had before, with more room to serve their delicious delights including wraps, shish kebabs, baklava pastries and Turkish tea and coffee, with new additions too.

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“We are doing the same food, but on a bigger scale - and it is more comfortable,” said Amy. “And we have our own shopfront now. We have a lot of loyal customers who have followed us here but now more people walk past and see us.”

At the market stall there were merely six tables, but now they have doubled that. Amy said: “We were turning people away, particularly on Fridays and Saturdays, because we didn’t have enough tables.

“We were at the limit of what we could do, but now we have more space and it’s an opportunity to expand the menu. We are introducing new specials and desserts, but we have kept all the favourites.”

Gurbet and Amy Yüksel, inside Tantuni, New George Street, Plymouth -Credit:William Telford
Gurbet and Amy Yüksel, inside Tantuni, New George Street, Plymouth -Credit:William Telford

Gurbet and Amy have created jobs too, bringing the team up to five, because of the upscale in business. They have plans for further growth, and Amy said: “We are thinking of opening in the evening, when we get more staff. We've already taken on two staff and will probably take on another.”

And the secret? Amy said: “We make everything fresh, every day. Everything is cooked there and then. People appreciate fresh-to-order food. Everything is made from scratch. There is a lot of prep involved. And all our spices come from Turkey, and we sell authentic Turkish coffee and tea.”

Despite a huge hike in inflation, including on the price of the ingredients they import from Turkey, Gurbet and Amy have tried to keep their pricing competitive. They are offering a lunch meal deal of a wrap with chips and a dip, drink and dessert for £13.95. From Monday to Wednesday, coffee/tea and a baklava costs £5.

Inside Tantuni, New George Street, Plymouth -Credit:William Telford
Inside Tantuni, New George Street, Plymouth -Credit:William Telford

Amy is also a designer, and the Tantuni restaurant is showcasing her eye catching range of greetings cards. She said: “I normally sell on Etsy, but now we have a bigger business I can sell here.”

Gurbet hails from Turkey, growing up in the port of Tarsus in the Mersin region, and has been a chef for more than 20 years. He said: “When I was a teenager I was working at a restaurant and hotel. After I came here I was the head chef at the Meze Grill, on the Barbican for six years, and then opened in the market.”

Tatuni has followed a well trodden path from market stall to restaurant, in the footsteps of such gastronomic success stories as Mama Rita’s Kitchen, Tilt, Soul Food Vendor, and The Veg Patch. And Amy said Plymouth Market seems to have a never-ending supply of fine food outlets, adding: ““There are so many good food outlets in the market, it’s become more of a food market.”

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