The Thirty-A Review January 2021

d i n i n g

Gyro Heroes Work Here Seaside’s Beloved Airstream Husband-Wife Team Presses on

After Uncertain Summer b y C h r i s t o p h e r M a n s o n

T he best Mediterranean food I have tried, and I’ve been to many different Turkish and Greek restaurants… this place serves the most delicious and authentic food.” Review of Seaside’s Mr. Gyro Hero on Facebook On an unusually crisp fall day well after the normal lunch hour, Seaside’s Airstream Row is packed with hungry visitors. Although Burak and Olga Akkan opened their Mr. Gyro Hero less than a year ago, positive word of mouth appears to have spread. The 10-year veterans of the Saturday Seaside Farmers Market opened for business in March 2020 but had to close for over two months due to Covid-19 quarantine demands. The Akkans reopened at the end of May and ended up having a busy summer. “We don’t know how it will be normally, since this is our first year for the airstream,” says Olga during a well-earned break. “It’s been challenging—managing the lines, keeping people six feet apart. You see how it is now, imagine what it was like in July!” Business has been good, and Olga says the only problem during the busy season was being understaffed. “We have other people who work, but we couldn’t cover all the shifts. A lot of seasonal workers couldn’t come out here. My husband and I are here all the time.” The Mr. Gyro Hero menu choices offer much more than you could imagine from such a small space. The most popular items are the gyros, chicken kabob, and homemade hummus. Vegetarian and vegan options are available as well, along with salads (Greek and gyro, made from organic and locally grown ingredi- ents); breakfast (wraps and a Mediterranean option that serves one or two); and, for dessert, homemade baklava. The couple’s dream come true is the first thing you’ll spot when you drive, walk, or bike into Seaside from the west end. The comic book motif of the Airstream instantly catches the eye. It was designed by Central Idea Agency’s David DeGregorio, and Olga says the signage was one of the most challenging tasks she and Burak had to face prior to opening.

The summer was more of a tourist thing, but now that it’s cooling down, we’re starting to see a lot more of the locals. We’re very happy to see them stopping by.

Burak’s parents help take care of the children while the Akkans keep Mr. Gyro Hero running. “We are trying to be home (with them), at least one of us,” Olga says. “Deniz, our son, is already cooking. He can make sandwiches and salads.” When asked if they’re good, she says, “They’re good for me!” Olga and Burak didn’t push the kid to start preparing food. “You know kids, they do what they want! “We had to do all the inspections and everything by ourselves,” Olga says of the other challenges she and Burak faced prior to opening. “This is a different type of business. For me, it was a very new experience as far as setting up the company, acquiring licenses, buying equipment, and finding someone to build the kitchen inside the Airstream. “It’s hard to do. You have limited space, and you’re serving hundreds of people a day. We have shelves, fridges, grills in there. Once we opened, we realized this is the kitchen we wanted.” In their spare time, the Akkans enjoy traveling— skiing in Ukraine and spending quality time with Burak’s relatives in Turkey. And of course, they love the beach. Mr. Gyro Hero is open daily from 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. and is located at 2215 E. County Highway 30-A, Airstream Row, Santa Rosa Beach, Florida 32459. Call (850) 376-5864 for more information and check them out on Facebook and Instagram.

Olga and Burak Akkan

It should be pointed out that Olga’s face mask sports the Mr. Gyro Hero logo. They’re not for sale—yet. As for the future, Olga says, “It’s hard to make any plans right now because of the time that we live in. We’re trying to live day by day, trying to see what’s going to happen. We definitely don’t want to close down again. Our top priority is to survive the year and stay healthy.” She does hope to attract many of the locals who know and love them from the Seaside Farmers Market. “The summer was more of a tourist thing, but now that it’s cooling down, we’re starting to see a lot more of the locals. We’re very happy to see them stopping by.” The couple live in Destin and have two children—a boy, age 4, and a one-year-old girl. Olga’s mother and

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