The Fez, Ҫatalköy
An Afternoon with Billy J
By Margaret Sheard
I have to admit that although I have been to the Fez in Ҫatalköy previously, I had never dined there before so Sunday 28th April was a first and the occasion was Sunday Lunch and an afternoon’s entertainment by Billy J Redif.
We ordered a starter and main course and as it was a very hot day we settled down in the dining room where it was a bit cooler to eat our meal. There was a choice of 3 starters and 3 main courses (and 2 desserts if you still had room) so we made our selection, which were all different, and it was nice to see the three choices when they arrived at our table. It was a very nice meal with good service by friendly smiling waiters and unfortunately, after a starter and main course, we were too full for a dessert!
We had earlier asked for a shady place to sit outside to enjoy the music and so our reserved area was waiting when we had finished eating and we wandered outside to the sound of Billy J who had already started his performance and very good he was too, singing a whole range of old and new songs and popular ballads. It was an extremely hot day and we all felt a bit sorry for him performing with the sun beating down. There had been a thoughtfully placed umbrella on his stage but even so he must have been feeling the heat but it didn’t deter him from giving an excellent performance. I had managed to ask him if he would have a few words with me during his break and he kindly came over and sat with us half way through his routine.
Billy J Redif is of Turkish Cypriot parentage and was born in London in 1958. Billy’s father, Cemal, returned to North Cyprus and Billy still lives in the UK in Milton Keynes but returns to North Cyprus 4 times a year in January, April, August and October when he does many performances in the Lapta/Alsancak, Girne and Esentepe areas. He loves entertaining and would be pleased to hear from any venues in North Cyprus that would like him to give a performance for their customers during the times when he is back here.
Initially Billy was a drummer and toured around the UK with some well-known groups and singers, he got into his current type of act rather by chance as one of the group members became ill and he stood in to play guitar and sing. They were amazed that he had such a good voice and suggested he started singing instead of playing drums, so this is what he did. This was some 8 years ago and since then, apart from his performances in North Cyprus, he entertains, mainly in clubs, in London 2-3 times a week.
We thoroughly enjoyed our afternoon of entertainment as I am sure the many other people present did as well. We look forward to seeing Billy J perform again when he next returns to North Cyprus which he has since told us will be 22nd July to 19th August.
The owner of The Fez, Hayal Beyler, was extremely busy with the many customers she had that day so we waited until later in the afternoon when she could pass things over to her Manager and spare me some time to talk about her business. I remember when I first came to North Cyprus the restaurant was known as the Fireman’s Fez and I asked Hayal about this. Her partner at the time had been a fireman and the fez related to Hayal’s Cypriot background – a very appropriate name at the time but Hayal and her partner split up and the name then became The Fez.
Hayal was born in Hackney in London in 1959 and there were 3 sisters and 2 brothers, her parents went to the UK in 1957 and her mother and 2 brothers still live there. Hayal returned to Cyprus in 1974 and she and her then partner started the building of what is now The Fez which was completed and opened in 1976. In the early years they opened for 6 months a year and spent 6 months in the UK to work and supplement their funds but of course now The Fez is open all through the year and Hayal said she has not been back to the UK for 10 years, she loves Cyprus, the people and the way of life here.
In addition to the restaurant, there are 12 en-suite rooms available for visitors as well as 2 self catering apartments each with 2 bedrooms. There is a large pool available near to the holiday lets and a very long bar and large terrace area in an inner courtyard adjacent to the restaurant.
Hayal now has a new partner, Gary Pearce, and while he has his own full-time job, he also entertains as a hobby. As well as running The Fez, Hayal is very much a dog lover and she has 4 chihuahuas which I noticed she made time to go and check on during the afternoon, moving them into a more shady area and topping up their water.
So Hayal and Gary are two very busy people who enjoy their life here in North Cyprus.
Unfortunately, Chris did not have his own camera with him that day but we managed to make a small video by using my camera which we had never attempted to use for a video before so we are fairly pleased with the result although it is quite short.
To see more pictures at The Fez, see slideshow below, and then watch the video below the slideshow.