La Perla family.
A few months ago, when the first time in my life we arrived in Iskenderun city, we stopped at the boutique hotel La Perla. Hotel La Perla it is a small hotel, that is located in the centre of the city and just a ten minute walk from the sea. On the ground floor there is a restaurant, and in the second floor, the hotel rooms. As we learned later, and then try for ourselves, the restaurant at the hotel is considered one of the best in the city.
We spent in La Perla about twenty days and during that time managed to get acquainted and make friends with his owners: Akay and Ümit, and staff. And do not make friends with them was simply impossible, because in the La Perla hotel working very friendly, kind and helpful people.
It all began with the fact that after eating Turkish delicacies and tasting of various Turkish dishes, we wanted to eat the normal Italian pasta. So, one day, I suggested Akay teach his chief Murat, cooking Italian pasta. Akay gladly accepted my offer and we became friends.
The main problem is that Murat does not speak English, and I certainly do not speak in Turkish. So, our conversations, has always been possible only because of the girls, who also work in La Perla and speak English, either through Google Translator.
By the way, that most of all I liked it at La Perla, is the fact that they live there like one big family. When people come there to work, they feel like at home. And in this great merit of the hotel owners. Perhaps that is why I am, living in the hotel a short time, in a few days felt like home, and became friend with the staff.
Now I suggest you get to know the owners and chef of this hotel.
Akay is one of the owners of the Hotel La Perla. Akay is kind, friendly and helpful person.
E.R.: Hello Akay. Please, tell us a little about yourself?
Akay: Hi Elina. My name Akay, I am one of the owners of the hotel La Perla. I graduated from the University of Cyprus in the specialty management and tourism. After graduation I worked in various fields not related to tourism, but a year ago I had the opportunity to open a boutique hotel with Ümit and we took advantage of it. And now I’m happy because I love my job.
But in the first place for me is my family, especially my wife and children. And everything that I do, I do for them, to give them a good life. Me and my son, we have a special day that we spend together, it is the Saturday. On this day we go to the movies, play video games. With my daughter, I do not have special day, because she is still very small.
E.R.: Please tell us the story about how did you open La Perla?
Akay: Just over a year ago, one of my friends invited me to go look at one building that is leased to the state. When we arrived at the place, I saw a small entrance, then when we went inside, I saw a small room but on the second floor of the place was more and there was 18 rooms. Watching all around, I came to the conclusion that I really liked this building, I was impressed. And then my friend asked me, “Akay, what can we do in this place?”. And I replied: “If it was my place, I would build here a restaurant, vine house and hotel”. Then he said to me: “Well, Akay. Please, renting the building and do what you have now listed”. And I did.
E.R.: And what was before in this building?
Akay: This building has over a hundred years and it is the first historic building in Iskenderun. Originally, this building was built by the French, and they used it for military service. After that, a long time it has been abandoned. Then, when became the next war they used it as a place take the christian citizen for military service. After that the building was used as a commercial house, and then it was again abandoned. Naturally over time, the building began to fall into disrepair and the state decided to rent it to private entrepreneurs.
E.R.: It is very interesting. Your hotel is decorated very nice, who was a designer?
Akay: I’m and Ümit. We totally have thought up the entire design and decoration of the rooms. And all the furniture made by our friend designer and producer – Tarik.
E.R.: And how it turned out, what you’re doing business together with Ümit?
Akay: We are familiar with Ümit more than ten years and during that time we have been friends. I trust him like myself, that is why we have decided to do business together. Ümit is very hardworking and honest person.
E.R.: How do you manage, if for any reason you and Ümit disagree for something?
Akay: Usually it happened almost never, because we are looking at the same thing and we have the same understanding of what is “good” and what is “bad”. And yet, we have a clear division of responsibilities. For example, I like to work with people, for such reason I took responsibility for staff and Ümit likes to work with the money, so he is responsible for the financial side of the business. We really like to work in a team.
E.R.: It is great and I am glad for you. By the way, how did you create the team of La Perla? And how did you met Murat (the chef)?
Akay: I have very carefully selected the team, it was important to me in the team La Perla worked good and responsible people. And I think I did it well.
Murat, as a specialist, was suggested by some of my friends. At that time, he worked at another restaurant, but he was not happy there, so when we asked him to come for an interview, he agreed. Murat has always wanted to take 100% responsibility for the restaurant, but no one offered this to him.
When I asked Murat, why he wants to work in La Perla restaurant, he replied: «I do not know, but I am not happy in this place where I’m working right now». And then I told him: «Murat, I will give to you responsibility for all kitchen, start form the design for kitchen, all equipment you choose and I will buy». And Murat was happy. Then Murat asked me: “All kitchen will be under my control?”. To which I replied: “Yes, Murat you will decide all”.
He was very happy and come in La Perla team and start to work with me. And I thing he is still happy in La Perla and enjoy the kitchen. And all kitchens team is very good, so, in the end I am happy too.
E.R.: I know that all the people who work in La Perla, feel like one big family, and coming to work, feel like home. What is your secret? How did you manage to create such a team?
Akay: The thing is that I am very attentive to each of them. I try to meet with the family of each of employee, if suitable for me. I am always interested in how they are doing, if everything is okay at home. I think this is what distinguishes me from other superiors. They treat me like in the big brother and I like it. For example, when Melisa fell in love with a Utku, I was one of the first to know about it. Because she came to me for advice.
And yet, every one of my employees, is responsible for something. Someone has a little responsibility, someone big, but every one of them feels responsibility. And like the effect, we have this atmosphere in La Perla.
E.R.: Which is your plans for the future?
Akay: Very soon we are planning to open La Perla Steak House in the new mall Park Forbes. There’s a very good location, because from there a beautiful view of the sea. We also plan to open another boutique hotel, well, then we’ll see.
E.R.: Thank you, Akay very much for the interview. I wish you success and conquering new heights.
Akay: Thank you, Ellina!
Ümit is very kind, sociable and cheerful person. A special feature of our relationship with Ümit is that he does not speak English, and I, as you know, I do not speak in Turkish. But this does not prevent us to find a common language and joking with each other when we met.
E.R.: Hello, Ümit. Please tell us about yourself?
Ümit: Hello, Ellina! My name is Ümit and I am co-owner of La Perla. I graduated from the University of Mersin, Faculty of Tourism and management. I love my wife and sons and the family is on the first place for me.
E.R.: How did you meet Akay?
Ümit: We are familiar with Akay from the childhood, then we have worked in a pharmaceutical company and now we are companions on business.
E.R.: Is it easy for you to be co-owner with Akay?
Ümit: Since we are friends, yes, very easily. But if for example, I did not know Akai before, it would be very difficult to manage a business together. But now I am very happy that we are together the owners of La Perla.
E.R.: La Perla is your only business? And what are your plans for the future?
Ümit: No, I have also a hostel for students. And in the future we want to open hotels in other cities and countries. This is our dream. (Smiles enigmatically)
E.R.: Thank you, Ümit. I wish that all your dreams come true.
Ümit: Thank you, Ellina.
I jokingly call him “brother Murat”. He is very kind and talented chef. Many times we had dinner at La Perla restaurant and each time were pleased, and all thanks to Murat.
E.R.: Hello Murat, please tell us about yourself and how you decided to become a chef?
Murat: Hello, Ellina. My name is Murat and I am working chef of La Perla. Why I decided to become a chef? It’s very simple, my father is the chef and when me and my brother we were a children, we loved watching how our father quickly crumbles vegetables on the table. And watching our father, we too wanted to become chefs. And so it happened that in our family there is three cooks and mum. But despite the fact that we are a united family, we can not work on the same kitchen together. Thats is why each of us working in different restaurants.
E.R.: Very interesting. And how did you get into the team La Perla?
Murat: Once Akay invited me for an interview and after the first of our conversation, I decided to work in a team of La Perla. Because I looked at Akai and Ümit and I liked them. And I realized that they can be trusted. I love my work and my team. Every day going to work, I feel like I’m coming home.
E.R.: What are your plans for the future?
Murat: Very soon we are planning to open a steakhouse, then open another boutique hotel with a restaurant and I will coordinate all three restaurants. And then we’ll see.
E.R.: Well, thank you “brother Murat”. I wish you success.
Murat: Thank you, “sister Ellina”.
Well, now you can see by yourself, which people working at the hotel La Perla.
At the reception you will meet this two beautiful girls: Melisa and Umran.
La Perla family: Sabahat, Gulizar, Suphi, Demet, Ugur, Kubilay, Ihsan, Utku, Leyla, Burak, Ersa, Vefa, Senay and others.