Eating and Working at Bereket on East Houston

Editor’s note: Jake Safane, a new contributor here at The Lo-Down, has been talking with folks who work in Lower East Side eateries for a series of profiles. First up, Chad Turk, the assistant manager at Bereket Turkish Kebab House, a neighborhood mainstay 187  E. Houston St. 

Bereket's Chad Turk slices doner kebab, one of his favorites.

Bereket’s Chad Turk slices doner kebab, one of his favorites.

Even after last call, the nights keep on going at Bereket Turkish Kebab House. Since 1995, the quick-service, 24-hour joint on the corner of Houston and Orchard streets has been serving up a wide array of delicious Turkish fare at affordable prices, making it a popular spot to hit up after a night of drinking. So it should be no surprise that even when assistant manager Chad Turk is off the clock, he’ll sometimes find himself back at Bereket after a night out at some of his favorite spots such as Max Fish, Pianos and Epstein’s.

“Yeah, me and my friends, we go bar hopping,” Turk says. The Lower East Side is their first pick, he says. After that, “St. Marks is number two, Meatpacking number three. This is definitely a good location.”

What makes the Lower East Side his favorite neighborhood to go out in?

“The girls,” he says. “And definitely it’s a nice scene, you know what I mean?…You don’t want to go somewhere where it’s dead…I like the environment around here. And then we get drunk and there’s good food to eat around here.”

While some people avoid letting their work and personal lives intersect, Turk seems to have no qualms about it.

“Nah, they know me,” he explains. “They know I’m outgoing, and they know work is different and having fun is different.”

When Turk comes back to Bereket for a late-night meal, he’ll usually go for the doner kebab, a thinly sliced combo of lamb and beef served in pita or on a platter.

“The flavor, the way it’s cut, the way it’s juicy … it’s amazing,” says Turk.

In addition to doner kebab, Bereket serves other popular Turkish dishes at all hours such as falafel, dolmas (grape leaves) and lentil soup, plus baklava for dessert. The cuisine is very similar to Middle Eastern food, though Turk says the spices differ, with Turkish fare favoring mint, oregano and crushed red pepper.

Turk, a 24-year-old native of Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, started at Bereket around five years ago when a friend of his who worked at the restaurant helped him get his foot in the door. He has since worked his way up to assistant manager and recently graduated from Brooklyn College.

Turk’s duties include everything from purchasing groceries from wholesalers to taking catering orders for businesses in SoHo. He likes being in on the action of the Lower East Side and appreciates the mixed crowd.

“[There’s] diverse people, nice people,” he says. “Everybody’s outgoing, friendly. I love the location because there’s so much around here. Different bars, restaurants, a lot of foot traffic. You can never get bored.”

A thriving neighborhood also means increased competition, though, so what keeps the crowds coming for Bereket’s 18 long years?

“It’s because of the quality that we give [and] the customer service that we give,” he says. “Me and all my staff, we give every customer individual attention, even if the line is out the door…everybody has to get full attention.”

For more info on Bereket, check out the restaurant’s Facebook page and Instagram account. You can also check out the menu here.