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There are those among us who may shudder at the phrase “gas station taco.” But the folks who’ve dined at the Gulf Express on Fulton Street in Farmingdale know the truth.
“I am from South Carolina, there are a lot of places, including gas stations, with food inside. Like a Wawa,” said Ceyhun Gungor, together with his partner, Gokhan Oktem, owns the Gulf gas station at 356 Fulton St. “Here, they see it, and they’re shocked.”
On July 1, the duo unveiled the Gyro and Taco House takeout eatery inside their Gulf Express mini mart, fusing cuisines from across the globe.
In the kitchen, massive marinated hunks of shawarma beef and chicken rotate on vertical skewers, waiting for a knife to slice them thin. These two-and-a-half-foot-high pieces of meat meet the demands of all the orders that fly out the kitchen, from the beef gyros to the chicken tacos.
“The tacos we actually make from the shawarma,” Gungor said. “We already had meat for gyro, and we use the same meet for tacos.”
Not only is the Meditteranean meat crossing into Mexican territory, toppings like chickpeas, hummus and pickled red cabbage mingle with corn, sour cream and guacamole.
“We were thinking that everybody’s favorite foods are Mediterranean and Mexican, so we wanted to combine it.,” Oktem said. “We have build-your-own bowl options, so the customers can add any toppings they want. They can even combine the Mediterranean and Mexican ingredients.”
The joint is comparable to a fast-casual joint. Customers can choose their protein and toppings, and if they want, it can be served on pita for a gyro, in a tortilla for a taco, atop a rice platter, in a salad or even as a sandwich made with Italian bread.
While these eats have been selling well, Gungor and Oktem are still expanding their menu.
“We recently added souvlaki,” Oktem said. “It’s marinated 24 hours for tenderness.
“We want variety for customers,” he continued. “Customers today are getting gyros, and tomorrow they can get the souvlaki. It’s different flavors and different kind of meat.”
Four months in, Ceyhun said the community response to their fast casual takeout spot inside the mini market has been positive. For now, the concept is certainly unique on Long Island, but perhaps he and Oktem can make it more prominent.
“In the future, hopefully we will open other locations on Long Island,” Ceyhun said. “We will see, but so far so good.”