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My First Day in America - Episode 1: Hakki Akdeniz

"See the bench over there? So for two-and-a-half days, I [slept] over there." Hakki Akdeniz moved to New York City from Turkey in 2001, broke and homeless. He's now an award-winning chef and owns a popular pizza chain. This is how he lived on his first day in America.

When you make pizza, you’ve gotta make it with love

Hi, my name is Hakki Akdeniz. I'm 39-years-old and I’m from Silvan, Diyarbakır, Turkey. The first day I came to this country is right here. Get off from here, and then from here, just like them, see how they walk? I had small luggage. So this place is the first day in my life in America. When I came here in 2001, January 28, is right here. I came by bus with my small luggage and I get off over there. So when I came here, it was really cold and they gave me a place [to stay] called the Bowery Mission. And I lived there for 96 days.

In 2001, I stay over here. Ten years later, I opened my pizza shop in this neighborhood. After I opened my pizzeria, I found, Bari, B-A-R-I, Bari is a restaurant supplier. I went over there. And my dough mixer, it broke down. So that's why… my dough mixer because when I opened my pizzeria, everything broke down. It was a second-hand pizzeria. And then I walked by and I walk by and I see Bowery Mission.

So, we all right now on 170 Rivington St. It's called the neighborhood is called Lower East Side. And when I get over here in 2009, December 27, so three days before 2010, I open the pizza shop. No Champion, no Champion. This was my first place. And when I opened, there was a. It was like so much memory over here. This place is like it saved me. It saved my life. It saved me. It makes me a to be the biggest supporter for homeless people today. Believe one. Yeah. I mean, I always want to have them. But if you don't have money, you can help them that much.

Brut.

11/14/2019 11:19 AM
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283 comments

  • Sonia C.
    03/18/2020 15:23

    God bless you, you have great spirit.😎

  • Sophia M.
    03/15/2020 18:58

    Very good lovely 😊 kind of heart ❤️

  • Joan B.
    03/09/2020 11:13

    ❤⚘🌹thank you for being a good person...wish you and yours happiness and love💐

  • Teri R.
    03/09/2020 04:25

    What a kind Gentleman.

  • Munokoa H.
    03/08/2020 22:10

    God bless you may he continue to prousper you wth yr work. Soldier on💙

  • Angie K.
    03/08/2020 00:57

    Seems such a nice guy

  • Mitzi R.
    03/07/2020 01:46

    Well amazing ❤️ thank you Jesus.

  • Alipate C.
    03/06/2020 22:16

    God bless this hardworking man 😇

  • William B.
    03/05/2020 14:50

    Words of inspiration

  • Enayatullah M.
    03/05/2020 00:32

    Nice man with a good heart

  • Chris C.
    03/03/2020 13:42

    Inspiration God bless u

  • Ania C.
    03/03/2020 06:56

    What a wonderful guy

  • Shirley P.
    03/02/2020 12:38

    Such a lovely guy who never forgot those who helped him when he had nothing, now he is giving back. Beautiful 🥰

  • Carla E.
    03/02/2020 12:19

    AMEN..PEOPLE ALWAYS SAY TO ME DON'T GIVE THE HOMELESS MONEY, THEY JUST BUY DRUGS OR ALCOHOL WITH IT..MY RESPONSE HAS ALWAYS BEEN THAT WHAT I GIVE IS BETWEEN ME & GOD AND WHAT THEY DO WITH THE MONEY IS BETWEEN THEM & GOD...I'M ALWAYS BLESSED IN SOME WAY AND IT DOES MY HEART GOOD TO HELP IN A SMALL WAY..

  • Yasir A.
    03/02/2020 04:55

    Amazing guy mashaAllah. Most people forget where they started from. May Allah sw bless him more

  • Marvin V.
    03/02/2020 02:52

    You are an inspiration WOW

  • Luse N.
    03/01/2020 04:11

    You're very inspiring and humble thank you for sharing 💖💖💖💖

  • Carol B.
    02/27/2020 04:59

    Well done Mate! Keep up the good work. ;)

  • Kailashi A.
    02/21/2020 01:13

    Bro any idea how you got visa to USA? If any one can help plz DM.

  • Carole T.
    02/20/2020 22:19

    Great story, Congrats!