The summer is almost over… The last time I was at Mimolett was the beginning of it… But, I did my research and have heard that the summer was no less than the past winter and the spring. Mimolett continued to satiate the appetites of local and international visitors -both mine 🙂 and I guess others as well.
As such, I could not help thinking and wondering, who are these people behind this successful idea and enterprise. And, trust me there is indeed an idea. The idea seems to me to be one of strong passion, will and ambition. That is part of the goal the restaurant is following, which is to compete (ironically with itself -as you do not see a bunch of insincere people running about trying to set standards for the sake of just setting them) in the world arena.
Elvan Sezgin, the Public Relations and Sales Coordinator of Mimolett, was kind enough to answer a few questions that confirms my basic understanding of the perfectionist service and the beautiful people behind this service. Ms. Sezgin was born in Samsun, in the northern part of the country, in 1982. After graduating from Samsun Anatolian High School, she moved to Istanbul in 2000 and started studying Sociology in the Bosphorus University, which is one of the oldest and the best universities in the country. A career path that helped her progress both her organizational and leadership skills, as well as feeding into her creative mentality, led her finally into the restaurant business. She started working as Customer Relations Executive in Vogue Restaurant under the body of Istanbul Doors Group first. Then one thing led to another, and she found herself working with a family-like team at Mimolett. You will be reading more about how that one thing led to another with more details below.
I will be dividing our interview into two parts. In this first part that follows below, you will be reading about the restaurant business, the birth of Mimolett and Ms. Sezgin’s views on the industry and on Istanbul in general.
A little bit about you and Mimolett, how did you find each other? There is now more than just a little bit in the press about Mr. Bozok’s passionate journey from the Americas into Europe and to Istanbul to start up his own cozy kitchen; but I would really like to hear your side of the story.
Actually it was like a very nice coincidence. When I got the offer from Mimolett, I had been working for two years in the body of Istanbul Doors Group. My ex manager from Vogue Restaurant Nesrin Yavuz – the restaurant manager of Mimolett now- called me one day and told there is a new restaurant project with an unusual concept and with big goals (such as satisfying the criteria of the Michelin Star). I have to confess when I first heard about it, I really got excited. Then we started negotiations with Murat Bozok. After a while I was very sure about being an actual part of the team.
There is one important point I have to mention here. It is not an easy thing to establish a brand new restaurant and run it. Above all, it needs stability and a continous hard work. It is a real teamwork from operation to the kitchen, from public relations to finance, from bar to the front desk… I have to confess Mimolett has a really great team. The team composes of professionals with successful backgrounds. For an instance; Nesrin Yavuz – the restaurant manager – has been in the sector for more than 20 years with a minimum of 16 years of brilliant past in SwissOtel Bosphorus.
Restaurant business is very dynamic. Once you enter the sector it is not that easy to leave it. It is like an addiction. We sleep with Mimolett. We welcome to new day with Mimolett for the last 10 months. There is an interesting relationship between me and Mimolett also. Owing to the fact that I am in to it from the beginning I consider it as my little baby. It is same for all of us actually. It is mind-blowing and wonderful witnessing it crawling first, then walking, running and in the end, one day when you open your eyes, you notice that it has grown up already.
What is more, we are like an extended family here. This enables us a peaceful environment to work. I believe we reflect this synergy to our guests visiting Mimolett.
Who is the regular clientele at Mimolett?
The clientele differs in winter and summer time. In the winter %90 are locals: mostly professionals, gourmets and journalists. Whereas in the summer %70 are tourists and gourmets all around the world. We do have guests coming from USA, England, France, Spain,… everywhere.
We have already have loyal guests visiting us at least once a week. This is quite important to us as it means we are doing something good and something nice; and that we do it right. Also we notice that a striking majority of guests visit our restaurant to celebrate their birthdays, anniversaries and special occasions.
There is no such a division like young, middle aged or old guests actually. We do have guests around their 60s-70s as well guests around their 20s.
How in your opinion does Mimolett fit in with and then complement the city?
Istanbul is actually a city of contradictions. However, it is very interesting that these contradictions do not fall as contradictions to each other. On the contrary, you always see a nice harmony between them. In other words, Istanbul is a cosmopolitan city where it is possible to encounter a shanty town right beside the richest district. What is more; Istanbul is also a city of full package of history, city life, culture and entertainment. These are the colours of Istanbul that make it distinct from other cities.
Mimolett is located on Sıraselviler Street, where one can really feel the existence of life on a daily basis. That is you see people running about a daily routine and running about for a piece of bread and butter. This area is indeed known as a downscale area, when compared to the other more trendy and popular districts of Istanbul, such as the shopping districts. Nonetheless, it is also a developing district. In fact it is developing everyday with private enterprises. According to me with Mimolett we drew a good amount of attention to the area. Now the perception of the street is changing day by day.
Moreover, we opened Mimolett in a centennial building which was previously the house of first Istanbul governor. We gave great importance on preserving the history and the lively soul of the building while designing it. For an instance; we kept the stone floor with Armenian ceramics while complementing it with chic and sophisticated items like mirrors, velvet curtains, marble… Therefore, it is possible to come up with the result that Mimolett is like Istanbul in the sense that it is like a full package. Mimolett embraces a variety of flavours and colours inside, very much the same way Istanbul does with its different segments and cultural groups.
I also believe that we brought a new breath to the restaurant business in Istanbul. It is not satisfactory anymore to be successful only amongst the local crowd. Thanks to the Internet and global mediums of travel and tourism, a restaurant has to offer also high international standards. For sure there are plenty of nice restaurants in Istanbul that have been around for many good years. But having higher goals will carry us to the world arena. It is undeniable that this is the most influential way of introducing Turkey to the world. I believe in 10 years there will be more people coming to Istanbul for gastronomy tours.
To be continued…