For a family from Turkey who lives and loves in Falls Church, one good sale deserves another.
Based on their success at the Falls Church Farmers Market, the Kaygusuz family has extended their reach from Park to Maple Avenue to open up their gourmet shop and bakery, Borek-G, or “Turkish Mom’s Cookin.’”
The confidence instilled by their Saturday Farmers Market customers have helped drive the family to set new goals. but giving up their booth at the Farmers Market has never been a consideration since that would be like abandoning family.
“We may come from Ankara, our first home,” Huseyin Kaygusuz, the son, said at their new digs, “but thanks to the people here, we feel like Falls Church is our original home now.” His mother, Dilek (“Susan”) Kaygusuz, the head chef added: “So many people here are like our family.”
Mother and son described the trials they’ve experienced opening up their new shop, the opportunities the town has presented and the admiration they have for the city and its residents.
“We opened for breakfast [last year] and then the pandemic came,” Dilek sighed. “We had to close, but found out we could keep going with our grocery. We survived” and they have plans a’plenty to grow bigger and better.
“We always have pastries,” Dilek said (“what she’s known for,” her son piped in), “and we appreciate the Falls Church citizens so much, always supporting us.”
The market sells flatbreads, many imported goods (most from Turkey), cookies, meats, seafoods, and olives — lots of olives, from green olives, black olives and spicy black olives to dried natural black olives.
“We eat olives morning, noon, and in the middle of the night!” Huseyin exclaimed. “They are good for you,” and he paused before slyly adding, “especially the Turkish olives!” to his mother’s hearty laugh.
Pastries and luscious desserts line cooling racks in cases while nearby refrigerators hum with hummus ($4), salads and several different kinds of cheeses.
“Cheese!” Huseyin declared: “the most important section of the whole store!” Practically no one leaves the shop without some, and he reels off nationalities of some cheese shoppers: American, Middle Eastern. Hispanic, and, you guessed it, Turkish.
Other Dilek specialities are pistachio baklava ($6 for many pieces) and walnut baklava ($5), which thrill taste buds with their flaky crusts and delicious piquancies (and, since they are small, leave little guilt when it comes to counting calories).
Customer favorites include the “boreks,” pastries stuffed with beef ($5), potato ($5) or spinach and (feta) cheese ($5) which explain the name of the market: “Borek-G,” the “G” being Turkish for “baker of” boreks.
On the restaurant menu, the best-selling meal is the “Doner on Pita” ($8.99), a beef and lamb dish mixed with a delicious yogurt dill sauce and salad of lettuce, tomatoes and onions. Another popular choice is the eggplant moussaka with rice ($7.99).
Also, the grocery has a “very, very vegetarian” section, Huseyin noted.
Beverages include Turkish tea ($1) and coffee ($2) which may be too strong for some but I like coffee black and strong. Huseyin fixed me a cup which he sweetened with a little bit of sugar and served in a beautiful Turkish cup and saucer, the visual which always improves whatever it’s housing. (Like I tell my children, “image is everything”!)
I must admit, the coffee was much better than the usual boring black stuff I drink non-stop.
Not only do the Kaygusuzes sell at the Farmers Market, but they also buy food from other vendors which Dilek uses for her own dishes.
The family came to the U.S. in the early 2000s from Ankara where Dilek used to teach young homemakers how to clean and cook, said her son. In the U.S., the family sold her delicacies at area markets until 2014 when a space at the Falls Church market opened up after a Turkish vendor vacated.
But, back to the present.
The family plans to grill and host live musical events at the back of the Maple market where Dilek grows vegetables and flowers now. And they plan to expand the menu.
The website has been a bit of a technological headache, and the complete menu is not listed, Huseyin said, especially for customers looking for a meal for one or two. He doesn’t want to mislead anyone into thinking Borek-G’s is a full-service restaurant now, but, in the future? They are heading there.
Adding to their expansion plans are blueprints for composting and recycling, and they want to start clean-up days in Falls Church which they’ve discussed with neighbors.
“We want to give back,” Huseyin said.
Which they do by selling homemade greetings cards, labels, and jewelry created by local artists, including safety-pin earrings (ouch! “I don’t ask questions,” Dilek smiled. The restaurateurs give the proceeds to the craftspeople.)
Huseyin said customers come by their markets, wave and send greetings: “Hi, Turkish mom! Thank you for the food!” And the mother and son duo reply: “Thank you, Falls Church, for welcoming us!”
Borek-G, Turkish Mom’s Cookin’ Gourmet Market and Bakery, is found at 315 South Maple Ave., Falls Church.
Phone is 571-230-6821. Open 10 a.m. – 8 p.m., seven days a week. Online at borekg.com, with curbside and home delivery.