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Spitz Brings A European Street Dish To Los Angeles

Candice Aman |
February 18, 2011 | 3:22 p.m. PST

Staff Reporter

Spitz Restaurant (photos by Trisha Doi)
Spitz Restaurant (photos by Trisha Doi)
Throughout Los Angeles, Little Tokyo is not necessarily the first place one would venture off to find döner kebabs, a classic Turkish street sandwich typically made of thinly carved slices of lamb.

But for Bryce Rademan and Robert Wicklund, co-founders of Spitz, the self-declared “Home of the Döner Kebobs,” the burgeoning Downtown district was the perfect location to open up their second restaurant, a follow-up to their popular original establishment in Eagle Rock.

“When we were looking for our second location, we were looking for places that were cutting edge,” Rademan said. “We saw that Downtown was taking a step towards revitalization and Little Tokyo has a community feel already built to it.”

Named after the “spits” of rotating meat that is carved to make these kebabs, Spitz is a modern and fresh take on the authentic dish found in the streets of Spain, where Rademan first encountered them during his time studying abroad.

After spending many months indulging in the döner kebobs of Spain, Rademan came back to his last year at Occidental College with a sudden surge of inspiration and a fervor to introduced Californians to the delicious European street cuisine.

Enlisting in the help of his friend Robert Wicklund, the two set off to open a restaurant by writing business plans into the night while they were still attending school. And while most recent colleges graduates come out of school to enter in the job market aimlessly, Rademan and Wicklund went into this business with full force.

“[Robert and I] simply turned to each other and said ‘let’s give this a go’ and signed the lease two weeks after graduation,” Rademan said.

Six years and two restaurants later, Spitz is a booming success.

Perhaps what Rademan and Wicklund has done so well with this establishment, was conceptualizing an entire place based around a singular dish and elevating it for mass consumption, thus allowing them to establish a franchise that is all their own.

First time patrons to Spitz will not go wrong by ordering the classic döner, their version of a sandwich, made from a combination of lamb and beef mixed with a hearty serving of vegetables. Aesthetically, Rademan said that the restaurant is modeled after places like Chipotle in which ethnic food is given a healthier twist.

“Our model is to de-ethnicized authentic döner kebabs and inject a healthier vibe,” Rademan said. “We took this street food and made it more Californian. In Europe, it was way too greasy. So we would put a lot of veggies in there. Our goal was to put back the flavors and take out the grease.”

Simply put, the flavors of their famous döner kebabs are complex, in the best possible way. Paper-thin slices of meat that are engulfed with a spicy and tangy sauce is nicely balanced off with the cooling sweetness of the tzatziki, a cucumber and yogurt concoction.

Additionally, Spitz’s is also known for their pita strips, which are fried to a crispy perfection that bode both a sweet and salty palate—a nice alternative to the average everyday fries, although the restaurant does offer a fantastic sweet potato version.

“[The classic döner] is why people keep coming back here. It’s what we do best,” Rademan said. “We model ourselves after In-N-Out. They have a limited menu but they do it right. And that’s what we’re trying to do here too.”

It seems for right now, Spitz has all the right ingredients to keep customers coming back for more. Just take a look at the business’ Yelp page to find numerous glowing reviews from newly converted döner kebab devotees.

“We have come to terms with websites like Yelp,” Rademan said. “We take them seriously. We are fortunate to have so many great reviews. But some people don’t get our concept; they come here expecting an authentic döner kebab. But we are trying to do our own thing.”

Yet with two restaurants already established, one question still remains: Will Spitz become the next great franchise and follow in the footsteps of Chipotle or In-N-Out?

Only time will tell if America is ready for that kind of döner kebab domination.

Reach Reporter Candice Aman here.















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