The home of the new Olive Branch Café is tucked away in a small square on Greenport’s Front Street. Though hidden in plain sight, the restaurant doesn’t promise to be much of a secret. Expect to take tastebuds on an international excursion without leaving the North Fork.
“It is totally Mediterranean,” said owner Yusuf Alptekin, who took over three storefronts in the courtyard across the street from Mitchell Park after visiting Greenport with a friend last summer. “Food will be from different European countries; Turkey, Greece, France and some others.”
As a native of Turkey, Mr. Alptekin’s experience in the restaurant industry began when he was just a boy in his home country, working in his uncle’s kitchen as a dishwasher. Since then, he has worked in dozens of restaurants spanning 26 countries. “I’m a chef now for 35 years, and I’m a chef trainer. Finally, I created my own place. This is my first business in the United States. I bring a lot of good experience and I want to run a different restaurant [in Greenport].”
Mr. Alptekin’s storefronts include a cafeteria on the left side of the courtyard, and a full kitchen and restaurant to the right. Though all three serve a different purpose, they will share the name Olive Branch Café. “Our food is different, service is different, the price is totally different. You can have great food out here for an acceptable price.”
In the cafeteria, guests will be invited to enjoy a casual atmosphere with an eclectic sampling of Mediterranean fare in the form of cold appetizers, salads, light lunch offerings and dessert. The bakery will open in the early morning with brunch available through the late afternoon. Mr. Alptekin plans to offer lunch box specials with three assorted dishes for $10, appealing to locals, people spending time in the park or just stopping for a quick bite on their way to work.
The restaurant to the right will give a more traditional dining experience, serving dinner. Crafted by Mr. Alptekin, the menu will feature hot appetizers and authentic dishes, many of which are perfect for sharing. To tie the Olive Branch Café’s two sides together, the courtyard will have comfortable outdoor seating with charming views of the village’s waterfront park.
Elaborately designed and affordably priced plates include an assortment of spreads such as baba ganoush and hummus, salads, couscous and lentil dishes, homemade grape leaves and three nutrient-rich yogurt-like kefir appetizers. Wine and beer will be available, with an emphasis on international varietals and blends not commonly found on the East End.
“I make the food. If I taste it and I don’t like the taste, I never serve it. If I like it, I love to serve it…I like to see happy people enjoying the ambiance, music and food.”
The cafeteria’s interior is reminiscent of scenes one may expect in countries like Turkey and Greece. Handcrafted wood cabinetry is complemented by a deep blended shade of burgundy and blue on the upper half of the walls. The white bottom is divided by a hand painted stucco-like border. The restaurant itself is still undergoing renovations, but features gold painted borders and light fixtures, which may be accented by burgundy walls. The interiors of both were designed and executed by Mr. Alptekin himself, who has a passionate background in art and restaurant design.
And with summer on the way, Mr. Alptekin is excited to offer something a little different to all visitors who pass by, and the locals too. “I love this spot, I’m really happy. [Greenport] has great local people and a lot of visitors.”
The Olive Branch Café’s Mediterranean and European bakery and warm beverages will be available in the cafeteria beginning at 6am, brunch will be served from 10am to 3pm and dinner at the restaurant will be available from 4 to 11pm, all seven days a week year round.