The art of flexibility: Local power couple juggles multiple missions | News


Chef Burak Cakir and his spouse, Michelle, not solely introduced a restaurant efficiently via the pandemic. They concurrently launched a bakery/espresso store, began wholesome customized meal deliveries and turned their residence right into a PPE manufacturing facility. 

Their gleaming stainless-steel vault of a kitchen hums with always lively coolers and tools.

Along with the restaurant, all that equipment helps the bakery/espresso store and prepackaged meal supply manufacturing.

Chef Burak and Michelle Cakir have owned and operated Port Charlotte’s Ephesus Mediterranean Grill for six years. Now the couple and their sons handle a number of missions, whereas additionally coaching in a demanding martial artwork.

This Rotonda West household cares about others, eats wholesome, sleeps little and lives robust.

In Izmir, Turkey, Burak Cakir cooked professionally to place himself via college for a global enterprise administration diploma. In 2007, Boca Grande’s Gasparilla Inn recruited him as a busboy.

“I assumed I’d be driving a bus,” he stated with amusing. “However I used to be 19 and comfortable to work my means up.”

He met his wife-to-be when Michelle was stationed at Eglin Air Pressure Base and Burak was working offseason within the Panhandle.

“In one in every of our first conversations, he discovered my title was Michelle and he stated, ‘I’m Burak.’”

Given the then-newly elected First Couple, Michelle thought it was a reasonably tacky pickup line, however he insisted, “No, my title actually is Burak.”

It appeared meant to be. They labored collectively on Boca Grande whereas saving each penny and steadily gathering furnishings for a Center Japanese restaurant.

In 2014, they opened the seven-table Ephesus Mediterranean Grill in Englewood’s Cornerstone Plaza, at first intending it for takeout. However quickly there have been traces out the door, {couples} dressed to the nines, bringing in their very own bottles of wine for dinner.

After being open simply over a 12 months, the grill outgrew S. McCall Highway and moved into the previous Cove Bistro in Rotonda West.

The brand new Ephesus Mediterranean Grill had atmopshere of Arabian Nights romance — eating room and patio glittering with string lights and Turkish lanterns, leather-bound menus stamped with the Turkish phrases for “Welcome” and “Bon Appetit,” muslin-swagged alcoves, seductive Center Japanese music.

Ephesus, Turkey, is residence to a Surprise of the Historical World, however Ephesus Mediterranean Grill served dozens of wonders of historical Turkish delicacies. Amongst them: the standard falafel, kebabs and stuffed grape leaves, but additionally the magnificent Iskender (Alexander) Platter, courting again to the Ottoman Empire, and the Sultan’s Feast.

The worldwide COVID pandemic opened extra doorways for the couple.

Bakery goods

The brand new Ephesus Mediterranean Grill bakery/espresso store serves espresso, teas, pastries, doughnuts, baklava and cinnamon rolls.

Michelle at all times had a hand within the Ephesus dessert menu, serving baklava and Turkish espresso to prospects who weren’t already replete with feasting.

However a lavish banquet room lay alongside their principal eating space, largely unused.

“We’d wished to do extra issues,” Burak stated. “However till the shutdown we have been too busy to give attention to one thing new.”

Now a full-service bakery/espresso store is there, serving Venice-roasted Black Gold Espresso and their very own goodies as early as 7 a.m. The Cakirs arrive at 4:30 a.m. to make sufficient desserts to fill the circumstances with pastel macarons, baked doughnuts, pastries, big cinnamon rolls and 6 totally different sorts of baklava.

Quickly, there was one other enterprise brewing.

Fit Meals

Together with his meal-delivery service, Fitletics Rx Meal Prep, Chef Burak now prepares as much as three meals a day for shoppers. His meals could be included right into a clear way of life, with out counting energy.

Not like most cooks, Burak is also a private coach and an athlete with a complicated sports activities nutritionist license. He’s so ripped folks stored asking him how he bought that means.

Recommendation supplied right here and there grew to become one other new enterprise.

Within the Ephesus kitchen, he started getting ready scientifically designed customized meals for choose private shoppers who sought weight reduction, extra muscle mass, peak efficiency or extra power.

Together with his meal-delivery service, Fitletics Rx Meal Prep, Burak prepares as much as  three meals a day for shoppers. These customized meals don’t comply with restrictive menus or set diets like keto and paleo which, he says, aren’t sustainable.

He makes diversified nutrient- and superfood-dense meals that shoppers can incorporate in a clear way of life, with out counting energy or making choices about what to eat.

“Individuals are the way in which they’re as a result of they don’t need to put the work in, so we make it even simpler than a McDonald’s drive via. We ship on to shoppers and gymnasiums.

“We additionally coach them always, as a result of it takes time to see outcomes. We’ve got to be there for them on a regular basis, or this system will fail.”

Packed meals

Wholesome meals are packed and prepared for supply.

When deliveries in his automobile couldn’t sustain with demand, Burak purchased a refrigerated van and now delivers so far as Tampa.

At first, they hand-packed 6,000 meals a month, however a brand new automated packaging machine will let prospects retailer vacuum-sealed meals for 15 days and permit nationwide distribution.

In addition they ordered a bit of cutting-edge tools referred to as Fit3D Scanner, which takes 1,200 photographs and creates a 3D avatar displaying physique fats proportion, lean muscle mass and different head-to-toe measurements.

“We’re the one firm between right here and Orlando that has one,” Burak stated. “We will verify shoppers’ progress month to month, which reinforces people who find themselves impatient to see speedy change.”

Catering to pandemic stay-at-homes, the meal-prep business is crowded with rivals — on-line subscriptions like Blue Apron, House Chef, Solar Basket, Gobble, and Freshly, to call just some.

“However nobody’s doing meal prep precisely like us,” Burak defined. “We customise to a whole bunch of shoppers’ wants. Our aim is to purchase a full meals manufacturing facility sooner or later. Our exit plan is to promote the enterprise to an organization like Nestlé USA, which purchased up Freshly. However earlier than we promote, we need to be sure that folks get the identical personalized service.”


Burak and Michelle follow jiu-jitsu, “the artwork of flexibility,” a martial artwork and philosophy that permeates their lives.

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