Food has always been an enormous part of Harun Gencerler’s life. Growing up, his family owned a farm growing their own fruit and vegetables, and he has continuously worked in the hospitality industry. Opening Ahmet’s Turkish Restaurant in 2002, Harun and his family have since expanded to open Next Door Kitchen & Bar and South Side Diner.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN IN THE RESTAURANT BUSINESS?
I’ve been working in hospitality since I was 14 years old. When I was 19, my family saw an opportunity to move to Brisbane because we knew that South Bank was a growing precinct. So we took a risk, bought Ahmet’s Turkish Restaurant in July 2002, and we’ve been here ever since.
HOW WAS AHMET’S BORN?
We actually bought the restaurant from a previous owner when it was called Five Star Traditional Turkish Cuisine. It was a buffet-type service and was one of the only Turkish restaurants in Brisbane. We wanted to make a few changes when we took over – the name was the first change we made. My family is Turkish and my great granddad’s name was Ahmet, so we named the restaurant after him. The rest is history.
WHAT WAS YOUR INSPIRATION BEHIND SOUTH SIDE DINER?
Since we opened South Side Diner, there has been an explosion of American food venues across Brisbane. I travelled across America in 2012 and loved this particular diner in Miami, and thought that we just had to do something similar in Australia. I wanted to bring that American dining experience to Brisbane. There were burger joints, but no traditional American diners at the time.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE DISH ACROSS THE THREE RESTAURANTS?
I honestly like them all! I love the Double Double Burger at the Diner. I love the baklava, the mixed grill and the rice at Ahmet’s. I love the Gangster Chicken Wings at Next Door. I’m really proud of every dish in each of the venues.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE MOST ABOUT SOUTH BANK?
The greenery. I’ve watched the trees grow in South Bank over the last 13 years. I love the cultural influence that South Bank has and the variety it has to offer. It’s relaxed and comfortable and, also, so close to the water.