Monday, July 15, 2024

Cooking is a Work of Heart at Retro’s Good Eats

Retro’s Good Eats is home to classic comfort food (Ihsan Korkmaz)

WILLIAMSBURG — At Retro’s Good Eats in Williamsburg, every customer is treated like a member of the family. Owner Ihsan Korkmaz makes sure of it.

“It’s comfortable food, it’s affordable, everyone can eat here, and you don’t feel under or overdressed. It’s very simple, and you get to eat good food in a family environment,” Kormaz said.

After working with his father in the jewelry business, Korkmaz decided to get into the restaurant industry. He was working at a restaurant and, one night, the chef didn’t come to work. As fate would have it, the restaurant had a full house for dinner that night.

“I told the owners that I could do it and it wasn’t a problem,” Korkmaz said.

The night he took over for the chef was a big hit with the patrons. He decided to pursue culinary school and went right into the hospitality industry. He worked in various places in New York and New Jersey and moved back to Turkey before coming back to Williamsburg.

Chef Ihsan Korkmaz hard at work in the Retro’s kitchen (Ihsan Korkmaz)

After purchasing the space from a previous owner, Korkmaz wanted to put in a restaurant that fit the needs of the downtown environment. Due to its proximity to Merchants Square and the College of William & Mary, Korkmaz established Retro’s Good Eats.

Retro’s Good Eats features hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken tenders, and milkshakes, among other things. Top sellers include crab cakes and lamb burgers.

“People think ‘oh, you are a hot dog joint,’ but we’re not. We do more fresh style with homemade meatloaf, lamb burgers, homestyle. As a chef, I know what goes best with what, so I rarely change my recipes,” Korkmaz said.

While the menu is extensive, Korkmaz prides himself on his crab cake recipe. He’s had many customers come in and ask if he can ship them.

“If you want to eat crab cakes in Williamsburg, you come to Retro’s,” Korkmaz said.

Retro’s Good Eats also hosts a monthly wine dinner. The five-course meal is paired with wine offerings and offers a more classy, sit-down style meal. The wine dinner usually sells out ahead of time.

As a small business owner, Korkmaz has worked hard to establish his restaurants.

Retro’s menu has something for everyone (Ihsan Korkmaz)

“When you get into any business, you don’t want to get rich the next day. Start small and understand that it’s not about quantity, but quality. Use your local sources and put your heart into it,” Korkmaz said.

Korkmaz puts his all into what he offers at Retro’s Good Eats. When the shop is busy, he’s jumping in as a line cook or handling the checkout process. He truly doesn’t see himself as an owner, it’s the customers that keep returning that keep him in business.

“It’s the customers who put the money in our register, not our owners. When you cook with your heart and you put love into it, it shows in your food. People will talk and the word will spread about what you do,” Korkmaz said.

Retro’s Good Eats is located at 435 Prince George Street. The full menu and online ordering is available on its website.

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