This town was not on the radar of Dogan Ozdogan and Muhammet Culha when they began their search for a space to open a restaurant together. The restaurant manager and chef met while working at Pera in San Francisco’s Potrero Hill. They were friends for three years before deciding to partner up. They first looked for a location in San Francisco. Then the Peninsula. They looked pretty much everywhere BUT Pleasanton.
“I didn’t know such a place existed; I had never even heard of Pleasanton,” Ozdogan admits with a laugh.
But a friend let them know that a previous restaurant, Agora Bistro, was closing, so they made the trek to the Valley. They made that same trek three or four times a week “to feel the vibe, try other restaurants. We liked it.”
That was four years ago. Both men live in Pleasanton now, Culha with his wife and children. And both came a long way, starting in Turkey. Ozdogan, who also lived and went to college in Belgium for a time, came to the United States after he received a bachelor’s degree’s in business management. He’d always had side jobs in restaurants, even working on the Royal Caribbean cruise ships. Then a cousin who owns Pera asked him to move to San Francisco and manage the restaurant. He hopped on a plane.
As a career, “I never really thought about restaurants. But at some point I realized that’s what I like to do, it’s what makes me feel happy. I’m a really social guy, so it’s great to talk to different people, give them nice food and see a smile on their faces. I love it.”
The whitewashed red brick facade makes Lokanta one of the more unique and inviting restaurants on Pleasanton’s Main Street. The brick interiors make a simple yet stunning decor. The back of the restaurant, where the full bar takes up nearly one wall, is a glassed-in atrium. Modern touches such as sleek pendant lamps mix with the cozy cushions on the banquets.
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By Lynn Carey, Correspondent