I am a first generation Turkish American and an activist in achieving inclusive prosperity. Through this ethnic restaurant listing website, I wanted to support immigrant businesses and increase their visibility within our community. I have always been greatly interested in ethnic restaurants, not only for their delicious and unique cuisine, but also for their incredible hospitality, and expressions of their culture displayed all around their restaurants. The Covid-19 pandemic has left many ethnic restaurants struggling, especially given their limited budgets for marketing and online visibility.
As soon as restaurants started opening, I took the opportunity and visited an ethnic restaurant with my family. This Turkish restaurant served some of the best food and service I had ever experienced in a restaurant. However, Turkish locals seemed to be the only customers in this restaurant. I asked the owner why there were no non-Turkish customers, and he said they did not have any marketing know-how or the funds to properly advertise the restaurant to the broader community. At that moment, I sought to change this. I felt a need to advertise these restaurants without any financial burden on them. That day, I came up with the idea for this website which details and showcases every ethnic food restaurant in the St. Louis area. I believe that food tells a unique story about each culture and unites people within the broader community. I created this website not only to help ethnic restaurants, but also to cultivate a more diverse and connected community in St. Louis.
I would like to thank my sister, Alya Pellegrini, for her support. My sister spent weeks doing research on ethnic restaurants in St. Louis, and she is the reason we were able to compile an amazing list that features 300 restaurants! I am also grateful to my Civics Unplugged family. Ever since I have been selected as a 2021 fellow in the program, I received great support from my friends and mentors, including trainings, discussions, and amazing role models.
I hope all my visitors enjoy this website as much as we enjoyed creating it! I launched this website in April 2021, and I have been updating the information on a regular basis. Please feel free to get in touch with me with any ideas, questions, revisions, or restaurant additions.
From stlcuisine Users
Thanks for helping us find some great Turkish food. Troy restaurant in Valley Park was excellent! We had the lamb shank, falafel and babaganoush. And for dessert, the honey cake and baklava. The baklava was awesome. – Joe & Pam
This website is amazing Deren! What a great idea! I love ethnic restaurants as well and will definitely use this site for new ideas on places to eat. – Hannah
Very nice idea! Great work, Deren! And thank you for providing this service! – Funda
Deren and Alya – this is AMAZING and is making me so hungry. We are ready to start venturing out again and your list is going to be so helpful! – Rachel
Dear Deren, this is such a good idea! I am so proud of you! First for coming up with such a good idea, then for acting on it. I’m sure it was hard work. Well done! – Serim