Goodbye to ‘zümküfül’ as it leaves Beyoğlu

Goodbye to ‘zümküfül’ as it leaves Beyoğlu

Kanat Atkaya - ISTANBUL
Goodbye to ‘zümküfül’ as it leaves Beyoğlu

The famous Şampiyon Kokoreç in Balıkpazarı has bid farewell to Beyoğlu, where it was founded 58 years ago, due to increasing rents.

I read the news, thinking, “Another icon has said goodbye.” I was sad that the place I had been visiting since the 1980s to have a snack or after seeing a film to munch before carrying on with the night had to close down.

Its kokoreç (lamb intestine) is not for me, but I loved the hot dog, known as “zümküfül,” which comes with hot sauce and potatoes.

Although Şampiyon said goodbye to the neighborhood where it was born in 1962, the brand will continue to exist as it has spread in Istanbul, Ankara and other provinces, with many branches mushrooming across these cities over the years.

Last month, Zencefil, an indispensable part of Istanbul’s restaurant history as the “first vegetarian restaurant,” also announced that it was being closed after 27 years in its spot in Beyoğlu.

Of course, it is the economic reasons that forced a famous kokoreç restaurant and a vegetarian restaurant, which both represented the opposite ends of residents’ palate, to be closed down.

The shopkeepers of Beyoğlu, who survived many difficulties ranging from endless pavement works to terrorist attacks, from systematic intervention in entertainment life to changing tourist identity, were completely helpless after the pandemic.

It should be kept in mind that this “systematic intervention” is not a matter of the present or the previous day. The demographic structure has changed with pressures against minorities. From the Sept. 6-7 events to the Wealth Tax, from the deportation practices in 1964 to the “Citizen Speak Turkish” campaigns, the list is long and dark.

Recently, Beyoğlu was under the reign of a culture that was brought in by refugees, but it is not possible to guess what it will turn into after the pandemic.

In a book prepared for the exhibition titled “A Photonovel of Beyoğlu,” opened by Yapı Kredi in September 2000, the iconic buildings, shops, places of worship, cinemas, etc., which have disappeared or survived on İstiklal Avenue and its vicinity, are presented to the reader.

Which places have only disappeared from the pages of this exhibition book in the past 20 years? Let me tell you: Hacı Baba Restaurant, Fitaş, Dünya, Lale, Emek, Sinepop and Alkazar movie theaters and Vakko.

It is clear the point that we have brought Beyoğlu to, which would have turned into one of the world’s leading cultural and entertainment centers if the momentum it gained in the 1990s was properly evaluated.

So many places have escaped or been disappeared that the number of places, which we can call “symbols,” had dropped to a level which the fingers of both hands can hardly show.

Let’s enjoy it…