The owners of a new city centre restaurant are hoping it will become a Turkish delight with diners.
Grand Didyma has opened in the empty former Gusto Vero site in John Street and is aiming to offer something different to the usual food offering in Sunderland.
The restaurant is the brainchild of Turkish-born Yilmaz Perek, his wife Emma and their business partners Chris and Nicola Wall.
Yilmaz said: “Chris and I have been friends for over ten years and we have always talked about opening a restaurant.
“We were at a barbecue in the summer and I had just returned from Turkey and had brought back some raki (a Turkish alcoholic drink). We had a glass and Chris said he really wanted to go into business. We came across this site that was available to lease and ten weeks later we’ve opened the doors.”
Trinkets and decor from Turkey has been imported to change the venue from its old Italian guise, and the menu follows suit with options such as traditional grills, moussaka and casseroles as well as Turkish desserts such as baklava and kunafeh.
Meat and vegetarian options are also cooked in the traditional Turkish method on a custom-made open fire grill and the meat is bought from a North East halal butchers.
Yilmaz added: “I’ve lived here for 15/16 years and most of the restaurants are either Italian, Indian or Chinese, so we wanted to add something different.
“Although people’s experience of Turkish food is on holiday in Turkey it’s often a very European menu specifically for holiday-makers. This is more what you would get from a traditional local restaurant. It’s actually more authentic than the food you would eat at a holiday resort.”
Food is served daily from 11.30am and is available as sit-in or take out.
Manager Ugur Kaya said the new addition has already been receiving positive feedback: “A lot of people don’t realise how healthy Turkish food is, so if you’re watching your weight it’s a good option for a meal out. We also have a lot of vegetarian options,” he said.
“We only opened this week so haven’t done much advertising yet but we’ve already had a lot of interest.”