Cafe Dukkan, Kyrenia, North Cyprus
The building was originally the family home where Emel’s parents and the family lived for some 20 years.
At a recent dinner hosted by the Rotary Club, I was fortunate enough to win 2 raffle prizes, one of which was a meal for two at Café Dűkkan. Eventually I was able to redeem this prize and went along to Café Dűkkan one evening where Chris and I had a very nice meal. It had been quite a few years since I had been there, my sister and I used to call in for a coffee and a bite to eat when visiting the Wednesday market and, apart from decoration, it hasn’t changed a great deal over the years.
When we arrived there was a young lady playing the piano, she was exceptionally good and we stopped to speak to her with an invitation to find out a little more about her later. We sat down and looked at the menu which had a very good choice of various types of food, so we ordered our selection and called the young lady over to tell us something about herself and her music.
Mistral Çaydamlı was born in Nicosia in 1991, she said that her father was a very good pianist who had received a scholarship for the Royal College of Music, but unfortunately when the troubles started in Cyprus this was not an option and he was not able to follow his dream. Mistral also developed a talent for the piano and has been playing since she was 4½/5 years old, initially there was no-one who would take her for lessons as she was too small but eventually a friend of her father gave her tuition. Although Mistral also wanted to follow a career in music, her parents felt she should study something more concrete like law or medicine and so she went to the London School of Economics and studied law, she graduated with an LL.B. and is hoping to go back to the UK in October to take her Master’s Degree, maybe at a different university this time, and then to follow this with a Ph.D. Mistral’s ambition is eventually to teach law at a University but she said this is a very competitive area and she would need to have something published amongst many other things to achieve this goal. This was a very polite and extremely positive young lady who has studied hard and knows what she wants for her future.
Mistral was accompanied that evening by her sister Tienşan and a friend, Osman Kamiloğlu. Osman is studying medicine and he also played the piano, something which he is very passionate about. Mistral said that she doesn’t practice a lot nowadays but at some time in the future, when she has the time, maybe she will have an opportunity to play in cafés and restaurants just for the pleasure of it.
Later, I spoke to Emel Kişi, the owner of Café Dűkkan and she told me that the building was originally the family home where Emel’s parents and the family lived for some 20 years. The family business was in porcelain dinner and tea sets but due to economic instabilities the business declined and it was decided to move the “dűkkan” to the family home and open a café there as well. And so Café Dűkkan was born on 2nd February 2002. Eventually it was decided to move away from the “dűkkan” side of the business and concentrate their efforts on the café-restaurant business. From the early days of trying to understand what the customers wanted and if they were happy with what was served to them, Emel and her staff have increased their culinary skills with courses at Girne American University, twice attended the EU funded Italian Culinary Institute’s courses organised for Cypriot restaurants, they also studied at the Istanbul Culinary Institute, and they learned how to make traditional pasta from renowned chefs at an Italian Culinary Institute in the Calabria region of Southern Italy and also took advantage of an EU grant to provide in-house training. The staff have attended English language courses and service management training.
Other attractions at Café Dűkkan are : a Mood Bar which operates in the summer months and was the inspiration of Emel’s son Mehmet Kale Kişi, this started in 2010 ; and a children’s area called the Little Music Box which is run by Suzan Kişi, who is Emel’s daughter, and was opened in 2011.
There is plenty of seating at Café Dűkkan, either inside the building, outside under cover, or outside under the trees. The food is very good, the service excellent with friendly staff and at reasonable prices. There are some items which can be purchased for cooking at home and there is also a wine which has been prepared for Café Dűkkan from local grapes by Mustafa Bey, of St Hilarion Wines, and Café Dűkkan House Wine can be purchased to enjoy with your meal or to take home with you.
So, 10 years on, Café Dűkkan is still going strong and I suspect Emel has been very wise in following the trends and ensuring that the café keeps up with what customers are looking for when they go out to eat. We visited there on a Thursday evening and they were extremely busy with young people and the older generation alike, it is certainly a very popular place.
Thank you to Café Dűkkan for their generous prize donated to the Rotary Club, and I am so pleased this came my way, giving me a chance to visit the café and meet Emel and some of her customers.