IRMA: Tampa man turns restaurant into hurricane shelter

By Josh Rojas, Reporter
Last Updated: Friday, September 08, 2017, 8:27 PM EDT

The owner of the Gengiz Khan Turkish Grill plans to transform his South Tampa restaurant into a Hurricane Irma shelter.

  • Owner Ergin Tek offering shelter to residents, pets
  • Tek: building sturdy, sits about 30 feet above sea level
  • Tek creating Facebook Event page for people to sign up for shelter

“It’s my duty,” said owner Ergin Tek, 38. “This neighborhood has been really good to me -- It’s my time to return.”

Tek unloaded extra propane tanks and a generator on Friday. The restaurant owner believes he has enough food to make 10,000 meals and can house up to 200 evacuees.

“I’m turning the restaurant into a shelter for everyone who needs it, including cats and dogs,” he said. “I’m going to probably cook two meals a day.”

Tek said his building is sturdy and sits about 30 feet above sea level.

“I’ll personally spend my dangerous time here because I know, I believe, it’s better than my house,” he said.

Residents who live nearby said they appreciate the option.

“It’s a plan-B for sure and will make my wife feel a little more comfortable. Just in case we need to go somewhere,” said Shawn Jeffers. “When somebody can give up their business to their community in a time of need is a really great offering.”

The only thing Tek doesn’t have to offer is bedding, but otherwise believes his evacuees will be comfortable.

“We’ll have a place to lay down and bathrooms and food and hopefully air conditioning will run,” he said. “I have a doctor friend who will be here and provide medical needs for anybody who has emergencies.”

Tek is creating a Facebook event page for anyone who wants to sign up for his hurricane shelter.