Varun Kataria’s Turk’s Inn breathes new life into an age-old institution
The modern Magpie
One can call Varun Kataria, co-owner of Turk’s Inn, a hipster restaurateur enamoured by all things otherworldly. But dig deeper, and you’ll find the highbrow bohemianism of the Brooklyn-based business rooted in respect and a lifelong patronage for the place.
So when the once-lively supper club started in 1934, which hosted guests like President Kennedy, was shutting in 2014—Kataria and his best friend, Tyler Erickson, took on the challenge to keep it alive, relaunching it in 2019 to become the hippest spot for music, culture and cuisine in New York. The appeal of the newly-renovated Turk’s Inn, which has hosted concerts with Alicia Keys and has welcomed celebrities like Janelle Monae and Shia LaBeouf for dinner, is in its artistic stamp.
The Turk’s Inn in Bushwick, New York
Varun calls it ‘Oriental Americana’ “Imagine Frank Sinatra of JFK’s America,” he explains, “Mid-century modern design, Martini culture, sophisticated and kitschy mixed with the lush ‘oriental’ patterns and textures borrowed from an imagined ‘East’ with bits of Turkey, India, and China. What you get is a fantasy of both worlds and an opportunity to make harmonious conversation between these disparate elements.”
An image from the restaurant’s archive
Unlike most restaurateurs, Kataria wants his guests to be so comfortable that they spend the entire night at Turk’s Inn. The cuisine pays homage to the original Turk’s menu. “We’re mixing American Steakhouse fare with dishes and ingredients from the entire Silk Road,” he adds. Kataria—whose parents own an art and artefacts store Khazana in USA—credits a lot of his learning to India. “I get a lot of inspiration from institutions like the United Coffee House in Delhi and the restored palaces in Rajasthan. I seem to be more drawn to the old than the new,” he concludes.
The vibrant interiors at Turk’s Inn