Turkish restaurant to move into old May’s Counter space near UA

Arizona Daily Star New Turkish Restaurant

A Turkish restaurant is taking up residence in the old May’s Counter Chicken & Waffles space on East Speedway nearly 10 months after the popular UA-area restaurant closed.

Istanbul is expected to open in mid-August at 2945 E. Speedway, near North Country Club Road, serving a menu of kebabs, wraps, sandwiches and other Turkish and Mediterranean-inspired dishes, said chef-owner Kamran Esar.

Esar said he will do extensive renovation to the 3,283-square-foot space, including painting inside and out and replacing several major kitchen appliances.

Esar’s resume includes cooking at the original Opa Greek restaurant on Campbell Avenue that closed in spring 2018 and Opa Time at South Fourth Avenue’s American Eat Co. He said his siblings, parents and friends will be involved in his restaurant — a first for the family.

“We liked the location and we said, ‘Let’s do this,’” he said, recalling conversations he had had with his father about joining forces with the family’s extensive restaurant experience. His father, Esar said, has 45 years’ experience as a butcher in their native Turkey before the family emigrated to the United States more than six years ago.

Esar said Istanbul will make good use of May’s old bar, which was popular for serving Pabst Blue Ribbon in brown paper sacks. The bar will serve a mix of American beers and liquors and Middle Eastern spirits and beers.

May’s Counter had been in business eight years when it closed last August.