From Rags to Riches: The Inspiring Story of Hüseyin Özer, a Millionaire Restaurateur

Hüseyin Özer, a millionaire restaurateur, once had to survive on just one bowl of soup a day due to poverty. Despite this, he never gave up on his dream of opening a restaurant. Today, he owns restaurants in Mayfair and St Christopher’s Place in Central London and is preparing to open his third restaurant, Sofra Balik and Sofra Steak, a fish and steakhouse in the capital.

Born in a village in Tokat, northern Turkey, Hüseyin had a difficult childhood. He even survived a poison attempt on his life by his step-mother. In 1975, at the age of 21, he embarked on a five-day bus journey to London to learn English and fulfill his dream of owning a restaurant back home. During his time in the city, he slept rough in public toilets and ate one bowl of tripe soup and a small piece of bread every day while working long nights learning his craft.

Hüseyin’s parents separated when he was just a boy and he grew up feeling unwanted by them. Eventually, he was raised by his grandfather. Unable to attend primary school in his early years, he taught himself to read and write before moving to Istanbul in 1967 where he found work as a restaurant dishwasher. Eight years later, he had saved up enough money to fund a bus ride to London, marking the start of new beginnings for the chef.

In London, Hüseyin scored a job working in a doner kebab shop in Mayfair where he juggled night shifts with English classes during the day. His luck turned in 1981 when he secured a £7,500 loan from NatWest bank to purchase the doner shop from its original owners. The fast-food joint earned a cult following but over time customers grew tired of the menu and yearned for something new. Hüseyin turned to the help of two nutritionists to revamp the menu to include grilled meats, fish and desserts inspired by Turkish cuisine.

Success quickly followed and Hüseyin expanded the chain to trendy St Christopher’s Place in the heart of the city’s West End shopping district. He now recounts his past to inspire others and says that the drive behind his latest venture is simply to ‘make people happy’. The third addition to the chain, Sofra Balik and Sofra Steak, will be open to the public on 11-12 South Molton Street in a few weeks following approval by Westminster Council.

Hüseyin says that he doesn’t need money and just wants to make people happy. He would rather give back to others than want more for himself given his past. And he intends on doing just that by giving back to budding restaurateurs. Some proceeds from his new restaurant will go to various charities as well as to a culinary school he is building back in Turkey.

Suleiman Inuwa

I am a professional website developer and also an SEO expert.

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