Traditional German Döner Kebabs Become Modern American Fare at Spitfire

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Video produced by Denise Toledo

A few steps off Washington Avenue in Miami, Spitfire’s Oliver Yasin Freuen and Co-owner Aaron Hyatt turn out a popular German street food known as the Döner Kebab.

Freuen brought the idea over from northwestern Germany where he grew up surrounded by the traditionally Turkish flavors and Hyatt brought to the table over 20 years of restaurant operation experience. The joining of these partners was a match made in döner heaven.

Opened in early November of 2015, Spitfire was inspired by Freuen’s family history of döner kebab restaurants. The sandwiches have become immensely popular overseas and now they have spread to downtown Miami.

“We have a lot of European customers and some Turkish customers. They appreciate that we have the original tastes, the original flavors,” says Freuen.

For many visitors, the flavors are new. Freuen says his biggest mission is educating his American consumer base about döner kebabs and their ingredients and flavors.

“They’ve never heard this name before, where the food is coming from.” Aaron adds, "They think it might be shawarma."

Aside from offering interesting and great tasting food, Spitfire also listens to the needs of its consumer base. Hyatt notes that good business depends on reacting to customers' needs.

“With the other bowl that we have here, that’s the salad bowl. Of course, down here in South Florida everyone's looking to watch that waistline.”

Consumers can do just that without losing out on the flavors of the traditional döner. Each offering at Spitfire comes with your choice of spit-fired lamb or chicken and the tasty, time-honored toppings: tomatoes, pickled red and white cabbage, sumac onions, and a garlic tzatziki sauce, with a recipe that has been passed down generation by generation in Freuen’s family.

Check out how these partners are combining traditional flavors with modern business operation tactics on this episode of Fast Casual Nation.