“The families, they come early,” says Mustafa Aytac, who owns Decatur’s Cafe Istanbul with his brother, Kamal.
But then, after the little ones go to bed, the late crowd descends. It’s an only-in-Decatur mix of Emory students, Indian club kids, CDC wonks and assorted hookah smokers. They splay over the drifts of cushions lining the four rooms of the cafe’s near-windowless warren. Aytac knows this weird coalition well: he assembled it.
Aytac (pronounced “I touch”) is a thin, energetic young man with close-cropped black hair and a beard so thick it seems to sprout a quarter inch during the course of a conversation. He had no idea what he was getting himself into 10 years ago when he wandered into Cafe Istanbul looking for a late meal.
Cafe Istanbul, 1850 Lawrenceville Highway, Decatur. 404-320-0054, www.cafeistanbulatlanta.com