TRIAD ROUTE TO TURKEY
It isn’t so much that Mediterranean restaurants are few and far between in the Triad, but you have to go to High Point to find one that specializes in Turkish cuisine. There, in a commercial strip shopping center on Main Street, lies Sumela, the go-to place for a casual yet delicious Turkish meal in the Triad.
Owner Mehmet Cakal moved to North Carolina 18 years ago from Williamsburg, Virginia, where he owned an Italian restaurant.
“We still had gyros, but not the authentic kind like we have now,” he said.
Cakal did not originally intend for his second restaurant to feature dishes from his native country of Turkey, but he eventually responded due to consumer demand.
“When we first started we were a different name, Main Street Grill we called it, and it was more like a grill type of menu, so we started out like that and over the years the customers asked me if I could do something Turkish, so we started doing different items, and then it became the menu,” he said.
Cakal changed the name to Sumela in 2008, and the menu changed with it by adding more gyros and pizza.
Sumela’s specialty is its selection of five different types of kabobs: lamb, chicken, beef, shrimp and adana, which is a mixture of ground beef and lamb seasoned with Mediterranean spices. The kabobs come with slices of pita and Sumela’s yogurt sauce, which is made in-house. Kabobs are also served with grilled vegetables and a choice of fries, rice, fresh fruit, piyaz and pasta salad.
I ordered the adana skewer for lunch with a side of piyaz. The portion was an appropriate size with a nice balance of meat and vegetables. The piyaz features a mixture of white beans, green peppers and onions soaked in a vinaigrette dressing that provides a nice balance to the seasoned meat.
If you are not into kabobs or gyros, Sumela also features Italian menu staples including lasagna and baked ziti, along with chicken and eggplant parmesan, to name a few. Sumela also has sandwiches and salads for those who are less inclined to opt for the authentic stuff.
Cakal comes by the restaurant often to check on the cooks he has trained. He said business has been steady in the seven years since they changed the concept of the restaurant. It even attracted the attention of UNC-TV two years ago, which featured Sumela on its “North Carolina Weekend” program.
“We’re basically the only one around here and we have fresh stuff,” Cakal said.
Sumela has an informal atmosphere during the day where customers order from the counter and are served at tables, but at night the menu expands and full sit-down service is offered.
The restaurant has a Facebook page, and Cakal said he will sometimes put ads in the newspaper, but most of the advertising comes through word of mouth. He said they also have a food truck that they use for special events. !
Sumela is located at 805 N. Main St., High Point. It’s open Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. 9 p.m. Call 336.887.2646 or visit sumelarestaurant.com/site/.