Inner West Independent

Efendy’s win at small business ‘Oscars’ meaning more in tough times

Head chef and owner Somer Sivrioglu wants people to come to the restaurant and learn more about the ancient Anatolian cuisine. Photo: Briannah Devlin

By BRIANNAH DEVLIN

And the ‘Oscar’ for the ‘Champion Restaurant’ goes to…

Efendy Restaurant! (Applause erupts around The ICC Sydney)

Balmain’s Efendy Restaurant on Elliott Street has taken home ‘Champion Restaurant’ at the Australian Small Business Champion Gala Dinner and Awards Ceremony.

They were among other winners across the country, with the awards aiming to recognise “outstanding” small businesses and “encourage high standards of excellence.”

“The Australian Small Business Champion Awards is a way to recognise the efforts of small business people whose efforts contribute to the prosperity and vitality of communities across Australia,” said award founder and Managing Director of Precedent Solutions, Steve Loe.

I sat down with Efendy Restaurant’s owner and head chef, Somer Sivrioglu, to talk about what the award means for the small business.

“There were quite a lot of really good candidates,” he said.

“I think there were about like seven or eight restaurants, we were quite pleasantly surprised.”

Now, the trophy and certificate can stand tall and proud with the other national and statewide accolades the modern Turkish restaurant has won over the years.

They have received Inner West Local Business Awards ‘Outstanding Restaurant’ in 2013, Business Achiever Awards in 2010, Best Specialty Restaurant, Best Turkish Restaurant and Somer has been awarded GQ Chef of the Year just to name a few.

“Fourteen years ago, my vision was to open the first modern Turkish restaurant in Australia,” Mr. Sivrioglu said.

“And a lot of people who haven’t travelled to Turkey don’t know about the depth of the cuisine. So we thought it would be a great idea to showcase that.

“It’s about sharing, it’s about warmth, carrying abundance.”

High praise in tough times

This is the first time that Efendy’s Restaurant has received this award, and for Mr. Sivrioglu, it has been an honour to be “saluted” in such tough times.

“This is a great award because it is for small businesses which is the backbone of the Australian economy,” he said.

“And it’s also great to have that in probably the toughest year that our industry has ever faced. So yeah, that makes us very happy.”

Last year, the restaurant had to close as a consequence of COVID-19, but unlike other venues, they were lucky to re-open after a month. To survive, Efendy’s restaurant adopted a takeaway model.

“The community support has been incredible during the crisis,” Mr. Sivrioglu said.

In the height of COVID, Somer said customers would say that Efendy “need[ed] to make sure that [they] don’t go anywhere.”

Customers were determined to keep Efendy’s afloat and asked to purchase Somer’s book, and restaurant merchandise.

“A lot of people understand the value of restaurants in this time and how much we miss them.”

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