Now, I will admit that when actually given the opportunity to make a suggestion of my own, I was stumped. What establishment could possibly compete with Chipotle, Five Guys and Hotbox Pizza for students’ dollars? A new eatery would have to be cheaper, tastier, and more convenient than these other stores to even survive. It was not until traveling some over break that the “ah-ha” moment came, that I finally cracked the Eddy St. Commons puzzle and realized what was missing: a döner kebab.
For those of you who have never been privy to the glorious döner kebab, let me enlighten you. A döner kebab is a food of Turkish invention, similar to the Middle-eastern shawarma, and the Greek gyro. It is a pita, split in half, filled with lamb, chicken, beef or falafel (for vegetarians), which is shaved off a vertically roasted spit. Lettuce, tomatoes and onions, along with any regional items are piled on top of the meat, and sauce is added to make it even more delectable.
Don’t let my own opinion towards the kebab’s flavor and appeal sway you into believing that this scheme might work. Let us instead look at its appeal in other places around the world. In the United Kingdom and Germany, the kebab is often seen as a late night snack, following a long night out drinking. In Tokyo, kebab vans have set up shop near Akihabara, the geek paradise, where video game nerds spend all of their money on arcades, unwilling to spare more than a few hundred Yen on food. And in Ireland, döner kebabs have become so popular with the party crowds that stores have begun to stay open late almost every night of the week. Even Ann Arbor, Michigan is home to the “Pita Kabob Grill,” a favorite late night take-out place for students. Time and time again, the kebab has proved a favorite among the poor, partying students of the world.
In addition to students’ proven predisposition to the kebab, the situation around campus presents a number of distinct advantages that would ensure the survival of a new restaurant. First, the dearth of cheap, good, late-night restaurants near campus ensures little competition to a budding shop. Admittedly, Hotbox Pizza is good, but certainly not cheap for a lone student, and Nick’s Patio, while cheap, is not particularly kind to the digestive system. A kebab is healthy, cheap (a döner kebab could profitably run for $4 or less), filling, and quite good, drunk or sober.
Second, the lack of ethnic cuisine available near campus creates a prime opening for a budding Middle-Eastern delicatessen. Years of witnessing students attempting to create pita sandwiches and paninis on the unwieldy grills in both dining halls has only reinforced my observation that students are hungry for real, ethnic flavor within walking distance of campus. A döner kebab would provide the perfect outlet for this need.
Finally, the marketing for a shop is already built into the name. Imagine: “Domer Kebab.” Similar to Rocco’s, the new owners could entice popular ND figures into the restaurant with delicious, Turkish cuisine, then ambush them for an autograph to put up in the store. In time, Domer Kebab would become another ND institution, right up there with Reckers, Golden Dragon, and North Dining Hall.
Döner kebabs have proven profitable, evidenced by their prolific spread to many great cities, all over the world. Their appeal is demonstrated by the masses that enjoy kebabs everyday. If South Bend is to truly become a “21st century city,” it must have döner kebabs to compete with the Brussels, Londons and Tokyos of the world. If Notre Dame is to truly fulfill its mission to provide wide opportunities to its students, it must work to broaden the gastrological options afforded to students of other universities. ND students have too long gone without a kebab Why now, when the opportunity presents itself at Eddy St, must we once again forgo it?
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not
necessarily those of The Observer.