Istanbul Grille, the Downtown Turkish lunch joint that supposedly had its last day last month, is still open.
I walked up there this afternoon, as the Liberty Avenue spot is a favorite of mine, especially on really hot days.
The door was open, the front was full of beautiful food, and the owner Coskun "Josh" Gokalp was holding court as usual -- dishing out more than food as he joked with customers, piling extra into their foam clam shells, giving people free bottles of water out of his cooler.
All this was threatened -- is threatened -- because the 7-Eleven store next door wants to expand into his space, where his lease is up after five years.
That's still the case, Josh confirmed today. He said it's "100 percent" sure that convenience store is taking over his space, he said.
But June 28 was not his last day, as a long line of customers that day thought.
His landlord hasn't shut him down yet, and Josh says he thinks he can keep serving for "a couple of weeks" more.
Meanwhile, he continues to look at other spots Downtown where he might reopen, including the space up Liberty Avenue where Indo Asian Fusion had a short run.
His Lawrenceville Istanbul location remains closed -- he hasn't even updated the website -- as he figures out what to do about Downtown; if he finds the right space, he'll consolidate everything there.
Hanging on the walls are letters and screen-grabs of the "Save the Istanbul Grille" Facebook campaign and petition that many customers got involved with to try to keep the place where it is ("Don't take our hummus from us").
Josh says he was surprised by and appreciates the groundswell and customers' continued support.
But as I told him, I think we customers will find Istanbul Grille wherever it ends up.
The photo at the top is my go-to lunch there -- the cold plate. It's basically a scoop or two of all or most of the lovely salads they offer each weekday, and still one of the best deals Downtown. This is what they handed me yesterday; I paid $8. You can get plates starting at $7 and up to $10 if you get meat. The place only is open from about noon to 2 p.m.
That there is no menu throws new people off, as I saw yesterday.
But after two or three times, you come to embrace it.
If you missed the last day at the current spot, try to stop in for one of the remaining last days.
Istanbul Grille is at 673 Liberty Ave., Downtown; the phone is 412-325-3346.
Bob Batz Jr. photos