Victor Twu got a license to open a fast food spot and decided he wanted to do something unique and special, but he couldn't quite figure out what. Then, on a visit to Berlin, he discovered döner – that delectable delight featuring salad, succulent meat and hot sauce.
“It was great! Fresh, juicy and it tasted really good,” he said. “In Berlin, there's one on every corner.”
But it wasn't easy to bring döners to Seattle. Twu's biggest problem was that, while the similar Greek gyros are well known in the United States, döners require a special type of bread that is hard to find in the States.
Finally Twu found a baker to make it especially for him. Another problem: He didn't have a perfect recipe, so Twu had to experiment extensively before he found something approaching Berlin standards.
His store, in Seattle's happening Pioneer Square district, has since become a roaring success, attracting scores of local people, as well as homesick Germans, to try out döner. Many are surprised at the food on offer. While Germany is known internationally for its hearty meat and potatoes, döner has never really been identified with the country.
“Some pulled away in disappointment,” Twu admits – they were looking for bratwurst.
In many ways, “The Berliner” is a homage to Germany's capital city – its logo includes a depiction of Berlin's famed television tower and the store's walls are covered with depictions of the Brandenburg Gate and graffiti.
During one recent lunch hour, long lines snaked through the store. One woman was incredulous when a reporter mentioned döners could be found on practically ever block in Berlin.
“Man, you must be a happy people,” she said.