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.


11/14/2019 11:19 AM
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  • Thu J.
    2 days

    Great story and inspiring that many should emulate

  • Peter D.
    2 days

    You are living the true American Dream!

  • Ian R.
    2 days

    Nice .. expect only what is good for the heart not by the intention of showing off to otherz.

  • Yusuf .
    2 days

    Bir Diyarbakirli olarak senle gurur duydum bremen ♥️👍

  • Ahmet K.
    3 days

    Ali Yüksel Kandemir

  • Amir K.
    3 days


  • Dilpreet S.
    3 days

    Good bless you bro..

  • Deepa R.
    3 days

    God bless you! You are an inspiration for immigrants. America is a great country and it has a very big heart. They accept you no matter which country you come from. Be honest, work hard and embrace it as your own. Your life is set.

  • Onur K.
    3 days

    İn turkey you can ask anyone you dont have money and you need food and then after they give you food or place for sleep. Most of people will help you in turkey. Ppl must help each other thats not surprise that must be normal!

  • Gul K.
    4 days

    Cant wait to move to USA

  • Timi S.
    4 days

    What a guy

  • Doğaç G.
    4 days

    As bayrakları 🇹🇷 🇹🇷🇹🇷🇹🇷🇹🇷🇹🇷🇹🇷🇹🇷🇹🇷🇹🇷🇹🇷

  • John P.
    5 days

    God bless you Hakki!!🙌

  • Abde K.
    5 days

    Lovely person, what a blessing 🙏🌺🙏

  • Qasim Q.
    5 days

    MashaAllah... Give and YOU WILL get back....

  • Freweini J.
    5 days

    Blessed with a lovely heart

  • Arturo M.
    6 days

    Your a true Og

  • Sheheryaar C.
    06/29/2020 14:33

    check deze strijder

  • Omar A.
    06/29/2020 11:08

    Give this video to Trump and Jin Ping please..

  • Marcus V.
    06/29/2020 09:29