(Photo by Ray Johnson)
It’s a few months, already, since Hosta Halal Gyro has been gone from the Bay scene and the space is still not filled. The empty space at 1520 Sheepshead Bay Road is currently in need of a tenant who can pay the $3,500. That’s a lot of gyros, so with that rent, it’s no wonder the place couldn’t stay in business.
We are left wondering, though, if the previous owner decided to leave or if business was just not doing well. Just across the street, is the super-busy Anatolian Gyro shop which has only sit-down or take-out service, so Hosta Halal offered a quick bite of Turkish fare without having to leave a tip or wait for the server to not serve you any water.
Whenever I got off the subway on a cold night and needed something to heat my muscles for the walk home, I would stop in for a bowl (a real bowl, not paper) of hot chicken soup. I would often speak with the owner, and although, he sometimes had to close his front doors, because of the bad smell coming from the store next door, he never indicated if he was having business troubles.
So, when I noticed the business was up for sale on craigslist a few months ago, I knew that my days of snacking on a $1-corn-on-the-cob straight from the pot were about to be over. The hot, pre-prepared buffet, added towards the end, was most likely an unsuccessful attempt to try to bring in some hungry customers, but didn’t quite make the mark – because, although the dishes were tasty, the heating station was a lone island that made the, already small, dining area a little smaller.
Even being placed on the Village Voice’s Best of 2007 list couldn’t save this little eatery. When I first saw the placard, on the now-locked doors, announcing Hosta Halal as Sammy Sosa’s choice for his last meal, I thought, “Wow, Sammy Sosa came and ate here!” But, the full review on the Village voice website revealed that it’s not that Sammy Sosa ate the gyro and requested it as his last meal, but that the Village Voice recommends it to him as such:
The home-run king swings for the bleachers using a made-in-Louisville ash bat, but we’ve got a different bat for him. The outsize Middle Eastern flatbread called lavash teams up with a triumphant combo of herby lamb and greasy chicken gyro to make a baseball-bat-size rolled sandwich at Hosta Halal Gyro, an estimable new addition to the mix of Turkish, Georgian, and Central Asian eateries of Sheepshead Bay. We’ll advise Sammy to ask that both the hot sauce and yogurt be applied before the sandwich is rolled up.
What is the real reason why Hosta Halal couldn’t make it? Did the competition between the local gyros get to be too much? Did the threat of the new owners send the old tenants packing? According to the real estate company handling the space, Urban Retail, prospective tenants will be able to get a long-term lease just like any other rental and refused to speak any further about the planned development of the site. If Hosta Halal didn’t leave so that the space could be made available for the new development, then why did they leave?
Even though, Sammy Sosa never got to try out his “last meal” recommendation, I still miss my Turkish chicken soup with a squeeze of fresh lemon.