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Downtown Doner: German kebab stand to come to Borough Hall park

Doner Kebab
A sketch of the proposed doner kebab stand at Columbus Park next to Borough Hall along Joralemon Street.
NYC Parks Department

German-style grub-lovers are in luck, as a new concession stand in Downtown Brooklyn’s Columbus Park will host Berlin-based German Doner Kebab at a food kiosk near Borough Hall.

The new booth, which will be leased to the cuisine purveyor by the city’s Parks Department, will land at Joralemon Street between Court Street and Boerum Place this fall — replacing the permanently-closed empanadas vendor Nuchas, officials told Community Board 2’s Parks Committee on Feb. 8.

The incoming vendor inked a nine-year lease with the city, and will offer varieties of the popular German-Turkish bread dish stuffed with rotisserie-cooked meat shavings, lettuce, tomato, and onions, along with signature “secret sauces,” according to a blurb the company provided the agency.

The 285 square-foot snack shack will be about twice the size of Nuchas’s outpost, which closed up shop last fall, according to officials.

The concession was originally two separate businesses — a newsstand and a shoe-shining booth — until the city combined them into one food vendor in 2007.

The Downtown Brooklyn outpost appears to be among the first American locations for German Doner Kebab, which has eateries in Canada, some European countries, and states in the Middle East, according to its website. An email to the company was not returned by press time, and no rep for German Doner Kebab joined the Monday virtual meeting.

The $200,000 conversion will be funded fully by the private operator, which will pay rent to the city and provide a cut of its revenue to the agency’s citywide coffers. 

When asked by locals how the company got the city contract, Parks officials said that reps for Nuchas passed on their license to German Doner Kebab after Parks vetted the new company.

Some board members and public listeners of the virtual meeting took issue with that, saying such a coveted location in a highly trafficked area of America’s Downtown should have gone through an open and competitive bidding process to give more local businesses a shot.

“I thought that we did a process with the Parks Department letting out Request for Proposals and not to have someone who’s already inside decide he wants to give it to a friend,” said community board member Carolyn Hubbard-Kamunanwire. “I’m sure — especially since we’ve had COVID — we have lots of people who want to, right here in Brooklyn, who want to do business and have a kiosk near Borough Hall.”

Even Nuchas had to go through an RFP process as well between 2017 and 2018, according to Parks project manager Andrew Coppola, who said they opted for the inside transition to speed up the process  — even though the space will have still been out of operation for a year when construction starts.

“It pretty much prevents us from having to shut down operations,” said Andrew Coppola. “To avoid any gap in service.”

The proposal has to be approved by the city’s Public Design Commission and the Department of Buildings before builders can set up the new shop.

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