While the restaurant turnover on Burlingame Avenue is notoriously high — with storefronts changing every few months — Mediterranean Kebab is here to stay.
“I love Burlingame,” owner Ismail Emek said. “I used to work in places around Burlingame and I know many local people. When this location [became available], my cousin and I saw that there were opportunities to start our business, so we decided to get the place.”
Before starting his own restaurant, Emek worked in the hospitality business. He then opened the Mediterranean Kebab in 2005, which has remained a successful mainstay in Burlingame for the past 18 years.
“The best part of my job is the people,” Emek said. “Interacting with people, sharing their story, my story, talking about the daily stuff, that’s what makes me happy.”
As the owner, Emek insists on being the first to enter and the last to leave the restaurant every day.
“I have to wake up early and open the restaurant before all my employees, because I really want to be here first in the morning,” Emek said. “Then I prepare catering orders to deliver them, then come back and deal with lunch. At night, I am the last person to leave the place. Basically, [that is] my life [for] like five days — open and close.”
Despite the long days, Emek is extremely grateful for the opportunities and happiness his job has brought him.
“I love what I’m doing when coming here, talking with people, the key parts of being a business owner,” Emek said. “If you love what you’re doing, you will be successful. I love my place and I know my business, and then success comes after.”