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The History of Körfez Restaurant

The history of Körfez Restaurant goes back to the days of population exchange (1925-1930). The first member of the Subaşı family that came to Bodrum was Ali Subaşı who used to be a shepherd back in Crete. He knew how to make very special cheese. After migrating to Bodrum during population exchange, he started work as a crew in merchant ships. Sailors are also expected to cook. Ali became the best cook on the ship and he was praised by everyone so he decided that he can do this for a living. He rented the store next to the Port Authority Building and in time everyone that came to Bodrum also visited Ali’s place. This way fame of the wooden chaired, marble tabled restaurant grew not as being the first and only but also being a very tasty one. It was 1930’s.


1930's Bodrum

Hasan the son of Ali who was the owner of the first restaurant in Bodrum was born in 1932. He is a Greek accented Turkish speaking Bodrum lover. He is one of the people who say “Bodrum is not what it used to be”. “Back in the days Bodrum used to be a place where no one locked their doors and everyone knew each other. Today there are no tangerine gardens or any green field. Cevat Şakir (famous Turkish writer) was a friend of my father. He used to come to the restaurant and ask him “what have you done today Subaşı” with a Greek accent.

It was end of the German war, the summer of 1945 or 1946, I was 12-13. Big men from Kalymnos, Kos and Rhodes were coming to Bodrum. At that time Bodrum was a small village. The garbage was being gathered with mules. The municipality was a big building with only 4 or 5 people working inside, one garbage collector, one town crier, one secretary and the major. During those days a dinner set was given as a gift to the municipality by some foreigners. German or English I can’t recall exactly but I still remember it was written Bodrum Municipality on the big white plates. Forks and spoons were all silver. When an important guest from the protocol this dinner set was taken out. It was our duty to prepare the food. Who else can do it.

Hasan Subaşı seems to be in a little sorrow when talking about the first years of the restaurant “there were times when there was no one present in Bodrum which has a population of 4000. Tangerine garden owners were in the garden, sponge collectors were at the sea. Stores were closed and the city was in deep silence. Subaşı brothers were supposed work in different jobs until Bodrum was discovered by the tourists. Ramazan and Hasan Subaşı started running the Körfez Restaurant together.

 


Hasan and Ramazan Subaşı


Zeki Müren (Famous Turkish Singer), Subaşı Brothers and friends


"After the German War, the protocol men of the Twelve Island come to have a dinner in Körfez Restaurant. Many politicians and representatives of the government like Süleyman Demirel, Cevdet Sunay, Kenan Evren and Turgut Özal (former presidents of Turkey) became our guests.


Ramazan Subaşı with Kenan Evren (general of the Turkish army)

   

“When my father put the melted butter on the rice pilaf, you could smell it from the Iskele Mosque. Both Cevat Şakir (famous Turkish writer) and the tradesmen of the bazaar used eat in our place. They all have a special page in the credit notebook. My father was not able to read or write. He only knew the old Turkish numbers. He used to draw a symbol that will be appropriate for the client and he keeps the account under that drawing. For instance he drew a black cat for Karakayalar (means black rock)

This is what Hasan Subaşı tells with the photo of Ali Subaşı on the wall and squid with its ink only edible in Körfez restaurant.

I am not going to try to give you the recipe of the inked squid. Since it can only be prepared by an experienced hand. Captain İmdat says “Not everyone can eat this food”. The trick is to add a few ink pockets to the soup like meal. This is a Crete origin meal.

Hasan Subaşı is still working with all the experience he gathered through year in Körfez Restaurant with his son Ali Şubaşı to serve their guests the best.

25/06/2009

 

 

 

Neyzen Tevfik Cad. No:2 Bodrum Muğla Türkiye
Tel: + 90 252 313 82 48 - Faks: + 90 252 313 29 05
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