Levent Demirgil

Turkish store owner returns to Coney Island as restaurateur three years after Hurricane Sandy

This interview was conducted and recorded in Turkish. Read Serhan Ayhan's transcript and translation below. 

Levent Demirgil, who emigrated from Turkey in 1988, is the owner of gourmet food shops in Brighton Beach and on Kings Highway. Coney Island Gourmet Food, which opened in Stillwell Terminal in 2012 has been shuttered for nearly three years since being devastated by Hurricane Sandy. "We suffered a lot from Sandy," he says. "We didn’t have insurance. Without insurance, we couldn’t get help." Renovations are finally underway and Demirgil plans to reopen the location as  Magic Gyro, a Mediterranean Grill featuring healthy fast food such as hummus, salads, and döner kebabs, a Turkish specialty made from seasoned meat cooked on a vertical rotisserie. He talks about the history of Coney Island, and, because "it became lively once more," his hopefulness for its future. Since 2017, the restaurant is called Kebab Garden.

This program is part of the Cultural Immigrant Initiative supported, in part, by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and New York City Councilman Mark Treyger.