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It’s official! Lokal83 on Columbus and 83rd is the upper west side’s newest favorite, the go-to place in the neighborhood.
We were sitting in a restaurant located in midtown Manhattan. Sergio Cetin happens to be a co-owner of this stylish bistro where I was savoring its signature Turkish coffee. Delicious.
“Why did you name your new restaurant on the upper west side Lokal?” I asked Sergio.
“Because Lokal means a happy place where people gather and socialize.”
”We welcome you to come in and enjoy, leave refreshed, and then come back again many times.”
“You’ve come a long way since your busboy days in Sunnyside Queens.”
Sergio smiled. “The biggest thing back then”, he was telling me, “was keeping up with it all. I was sixteen, going to school. It was an after-school job. And really, I was the Go-for, cleaning up tables, deliveries, running around. If the dishwasher didn’t show up, I washed dishes. And I loved it.
Every day was different, the hectic pace, interacting with people. I loved the social aspect of it. The restaurant world was where I wanted to be and it became my world.”
A star was born. Next Stop: Manhattan
Murat, the man who would become Sergio’s mentor, was the proprietor of a midtown Mediterranean restaurant. It was a business partnership made in heaven. A compassionate taskmaster, Sergio affectionately likens Murat to “Mr. Miyagi”, the Karate Kid’s teacher.
From busboy in Queens to server in Murat’s Manhattan place, Sergio (a mere thirty years old!) is now the co-owner of two successful establishments, both with Murat.
“Why the upper west side? Did you and Murat go looking for space there?”
“We did. February of 2016 and timing was on our side. We investigated the neighborhood. This great location opened up at 83rd Street and circumstances started falling into place. But we knew we needed a great chef. Murat discovered our longtime mutual friend Matt was pastry chef-ing at a New Jersey hotspot. So Chef Matt came on board and we were on our way.”
“Determined to open Lokal in thirty days, the construction was the hardest part. The investment of time, money and labor under a grueling deadline and we made it.”
The meaning of the name Lokal says a lot:
A happy place where people gather and socialize. Add to that its smiling ambience, gifted Chef Matt’s brilliant Mediterranean cooking, from Greek to Turkish to middle-eastern dishes, to classic American traditions, and sensational breads and pastries.
First impressions matter, especially when you’re the new place on the restaurant scene. Partners Sergio and Murat invite their guests to come in expecting a pleasurable dining oasis where they can relax.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What kind of food do you serve?
A. We specialize in cuisine from all over the Mediterranean. We offer a flavorful mix of Turkish, Greek, and middle-eastern dishes, the purest olive oils and Mediterranean cheeses, plus a twist of standard American classic fare. Also, Chef Matt’s variety of outstanding breads is extraordinary.
Q. Is dessert on the menu?
A. Absolutely! Chef Matt is a virtuoso pastry chef. His wizardry with baklava, kunafah, and other guest favorites has been known to inspire applause.
Q. What’s the dining style at Lokal? Is there a dress code?
A. The ambience is a sunny kind of casual in our vibrant neighborhood haven. It’s ideal for couples, dates, families, foodies, special occasions, and friends looking for a pleasurable dining experience. Spaced-out tables and booths contribute to a relaxed environment that’s comfortable and in good spirits. The name “Lokal” means a happy place where people gather and socialize.
Q. Is there outdoor seating?
A. Fourteen seats will open in summer and whenever weather permits.
Q. What’s the price range?
A. Affordable plate prices, especially for the upper west side neighborhood. Appetizers start at $6, entrees from $15. to $30. Desserts start at 7.
Q. Do you serve alcohol?
A. Our full bar features top shelf cocktails and a first-class selection of red and white wines.
Q. Is there a Happy Hour?
A. Happy Hour is Monday – Friday from 4pm to 6pm. Lunch specials are on the menu Monday – Friday from 11:30 am to 3:00 pm.
Q. Do you deliver? What are delivery hours?
A. Delivery is available seven days a week during regular operating hours.
Q. Do you have a presence on social media?
A. We’re on Facebook and Instagram.
Q. Do you take reservations?
Q. How involved are the partners in the business and daily operation?
A. Very involved. Murat and Chef Matt are hands-on daily from Monday to Saturday. Sergio joins them on Sunday. At least one partner is always in the restaurant overseeing service and engaging one-on-one with guests. We’re constantly looking for fresh ways to improve. Enhancing our guests’ enjoyment of Lokal embodies the relationship we’re building in the distinctively special neighborhood of the upper west side.