The city’s Parks Department shared plans on Monday night for a new kebab stand in Columbus Park near Brooklyn Borough Hall.
At a meeting of Brooklyn Community Board 2’s Parks & Recreation Committee, the Department said the licensed concessionaire for the redesigned food kiosk would be German Doner Kebab (GDK), a kebab fast food restaurant that first opened in Berlin in 1989 and now has locations throughout Europe and the Middle East.
The Borough Hall kiosk, located near Joralemon Street and Brooklyn Bridge Boulevard, will be the first US location for the company, which is looking to expand in North America and recently opened two locations in Canada. Another US location is planned for the American Dream mall in East Rutherford, NJ.
Though Parks representatives at the meeting did not have a menu on hand, language from the department’s presentation describes GDK’s product as “a gourmet style kebab that is wholesome, nutritional that satisfies the craving of the customer.”
GDK will pay for the construction of a new 26-foot-by-11-foot aluminum-and-steel structure as part of their contract with the city. The kiosk will have countertop seating as well as a grab-and-go counter.
A kiosk structure currently located at the site previously functioned as a separate shoeshine stand and newsstand; the two structures were combined and converted into a food service facility in 2007. That stand was operated by the snack bar by the Nuchas empanadas company.
The contract to GDK was not open for public bidding. Instead, Parks staffer Andrew Coppola explained at the meeting, Nuchas transferred their own license agreement to GDK after notifying the city in 2019 that it planned to cease operations at the site. Nuchas was awarded the contract through a formal request-for-proposals process in 2017; the contract, now belonging to GDK, extends through April 2030.
Coppola said that process, which was permitted under the license agreement, was designed to avoid “gaps in service,” and that the city conducted a financial background check on GDK before approving the transfer.
GDK operates under a franchise model; the franchisee for the Brooklyn location, GDK Brooklyn LLC, is registered with the state’s Department of State as being headquartered at the Manhattan apartment of Mohammed Yunus Shahul Hameed and Veena Ramaiah. The pair also run a Cousins Maine Lobster location in Kips Bay.
Coppola said Nuchas ceased operations in late 2019. GDK Brooklyn appears to have paid the site’s concession fees after Nuchas closed; according to filings from the Mayor’s Office of Contract Services, the kiosk generated just under $50,000 in revenue for the city in the 2020 fiscal year, which runs from September 2019 to September 2020.
In an email, a Parks Department spokesperson said the fee for the 2021 fiscal year would be $69,000 or 10% of the vendor’s gross revenue, whichever is higher. The fee jumps up to $102k or 10% of gross revenue in the final year of the contract.
In addition to questions about the contract, one meeting attendee suggested the City provide table seating near the kiosk, though others were concerned about taking up more sidewalk space at the busy corner.
Joy Gutierrez, the Parks Department staffer who presented the project, explained that the city’s Public Design Commission (PDC), which must approve all city construction projects, wants to ensure sufficient right-of-way for pedestrians.
The kiosk leaves about 12 feet of available sidewalk space at the narrowest point. But Gutierrez said Parks would explore the idea of adding seating near the sides of the kiosk, or in the adjacent park area.
Gutierrez estimated the new kiosk could open for operations sometime in the fall. The PDC must give final approval to the proposed design before a construction permit can be issued by the city’s Department of Buildings.