Posted on August 13, 2018
The Merkez Restaurant located in a city east of Turkey, in Karakocan. He was the pioneer of the tradition of feeding the needy.
This custom has been passed from generation to generation for decades, today in the hands of Mehmet Ozturk, its current owner.
At 55 years old, Mehmet says that he always maintains at least three tables free of diners and reserved for the neediest, even at busy times. And at least 15 people come to your restaurant every day to receive a free plate. According to inhabitants of the place, 100 people eat for free every day in the city, which is home to 28,000 in total.
Galip is one of the familiar faces that has obtained his free plate for at least the last 10 years. He suffers from a psychic illness, therefore he does not talk well. But if asked about the Merkez, he replies that it is his favourite place in the city because the food is spectacular.
According to the population, the tradition of feeding the neediest began in 1940, right at the Merkez Restaurant, one of the first places to eat in Karakocan. When the owners began giving free dishes to those who did not have enough money to sit at their tables, the custom quickly spread among the other places in the area.
"I remember Haci Huseyin, the restaurant owner, and I have witnessed his enthusiasm when he was waiting for a table and he was very young. I used to look for the needy in the streets and bring them from groups to the Merkez, "says Ozturk. "Sometimes they were three times a day, and sometimes five times."
Many other bars have taken this tradition driven by the Merkez and even call Hasan Gulbasan to thank him for such an initiative. But he does not see it as something extraordinarily out of the ordinary.
"And I tell them that what we do is not unique or particular. Inviting them a plate does not have any impact on my savings, but rather brings me barakah (blessings)."