Crafting a Flavorful Turkish Legacy in Alaska
Once upon a time in Alaska, Zeynep Kilic, a passionate Professor of Sociology with expertise in Food Studies and Cultural Sociology, felt a deep yearning for something more creative, immediate, and tactile. After spending years in academia, the desire to embark on a new venture grew stronger within her. Meanwhile, her brother Cemal Engin Kilic, an entrepreneur and enthusiastic cook, had been persistently encouraging his sister to leave academia and pursue a food business. Their complementary strengths and weaknesses formed a perfect balance, with Engin being a risk-taker and Zeynep embodying an apprehensive perfectionist. In 2022, after 15 years of persuasion, Engin finally convinced Zeynep to take the leap.
In August 2022, Zeynep closed the chapter on her academic career and began the process of purchasing her first business. Over the course of five months, they diligently renovated the establishment, navigated the intricacies of permits and bureaucracy, and meticulously planned every detail.
Zeynep took charge of the aesthetic and branding, while Engin focused on menu development and shaping the business vision.
While working on the purchase Zeynep reached out to her local Alaska SBDC to assist with the process. After meeting with her advisor Ian Grant, Rural Program Director, Zeynep said “Ian was incredibly patient and kind in educating us throughout the process and he also connected us to KeyBank to expedite our small business loan process. Alaska SBDC resources were instrumental in our planning.”
Zeynep and Engin’s collaboration and dedication allowed them to achieve remarkable progress in such a short span of time and marked the beginning of their exciting journey as small business owners.
What sets the Turkish Delight experience apart is the genuine passion both siblings share for food. Their culinary skills have been refined through countless hours of training, testing, and receiving rave reviews from those fortunate enough to savor their creations. Zeynep boasts over 200 hours of culinary training, while Engin’s love for cooking knows no bounds.
They have dedicated themselves to mastering the art of making technical dishes from scratch, ensuring that their offerings encompass the rich tapestry of Turkish cuisine.
From succulent sucuk and perfectly crafted lahmacun to melt-in-your-mouth manti and delectable börek, Zeynep and Engin’s culinary repertoire is a testament to their dedication.
As small business owners, Zeynep and Engin have discovered the fulfillment that comes from witnessing their vision and dreams materialize.
For Zeynep, this satisfaction is yet to be fully realized, but the anticipation is immense. Engin, on the other hand, relishes the freedom of being in charge and forging his own path outside the confines of a traditional 9-to-5 schedule.
The journey has taught them valuable lessons and provided key takeaways. They have experienced the power of collaboration, recognizing that their teamwork, with each member bringing their unique strengths to the table, is instrumental in their success. Engin’s knack for spotting and partnering with excellent individuals has facilitated the smoother operation of his various businesses. He firmly believes in nurturing and rewarding loyal, hard-working employees.
Looking ahead, Zeynep and Engin are eager to embark on a new season filled with exciting prospects. With aspirations of venturing into catering, opening additional locations, and expanding their horizons, they are poised to conquer new culinary frontiers.
As Zeynep and Engin set forth on this remarkable culinary odyssey, they embrace the passion, skills, and determination that have brought them to this point. After working with the Alaska SBDC to secure their purchase, this brother and sister duo are ready to create a legacy of delectable Turkish cuisine, leaving an indelible mark on the Alaskan culinary landscape.
The future holds endless possibilities, and the sky’s the limit for their thriving business! Experience Turkish Delight for yourself at 2210 E. Northern Lights Blvd., Suite 110 in Anchorage, visit www.turkishdeslightalaska.com, or follow them on Facebook and Instagram.