Oak Cliff News
Historic Mayor's House in Dallas' Oak Cliff to become Mediterranean eatery
A beautifully restored historic building in Dallas' Oak Cliff will soon be serving up delicious skewers.
The famed Mayor's House, located at 635 N. Zang Blvd. will become a restaurant called The Mayor's House By Selda, a spinoff of Selda Mediterranean restaurant on Belt Line Road.
It's a happy ending for a property that has had a rocky road.
The Mayor's House was home to George Sergeant, who served as mayor of Oak Cliff from 1935-1937. Built in 1910, it fell into disrepair, and was rescued by Oak Cliff developer Jim Lake in 2011. Lake led a massive restoration (including bricks salvaged from the Ambassador Hotel), and got it re-zoned for restaurant use.
In 2019, AJ Gilbert and Martha Madison, a couple from California, signed on to open a restaurant there. But the project stalled, the pandemic happened, and Lake put it back on the market.
The new owners are Mert and Becky Tezkol, who've partnered with acclaimed Turkish chef Habip Kargin. They're working on the space with a goal to open in December.
Mert and Becky, who met while they both worked in the sales department for the Dallas Morning News, currently live in Celina, but the couple have great fondness for Dallas.
"We lived downtown and moved north after we had kids, but my husband loves Dallas, and was motivated to open something in the city," Becky says. "We were thrilled when we saw that such a cool property was available."
Mert, who is also a soccer coach, immigrated to the U.S. in 1998 but found the so-called "Mediterranean" food scene in Dallas disappointing.
"I would see what people called Mediterranean food, and felt like it wasn't anywhere near close to what we have in Turkey," he says. "I wanted to do a restaurant of that quality and finally found the right person to work with in chef Habip Kargin."
Mert and Habip go way back: "We are from same town in south Turkey, we know each other from there and have since we were kids," Mert says.
Chef Kargin started his career in Mersin, Turkey where he opened his first restaurant in 1999. He moved to New York, studied at The Culinary Art School, and worked in New York restaurants for 12 years before relocating to Dallas, where he founded a trio of Mediterranean restaurants named Pera: Pera Turkish Kitchen, then Pera Tapas & Wine, then Pera Mediterranean Grill.
Two Pera locations eventually closed. Pera Tapas & Wine became Selda. Selda became a hit — due in no small part to the unique family atmosphere that goes along with a family-owned and -operated place. (Selda, by the way, is named after Habip's wife.)
"With Selda, Habip wanted to bring more Turkish-style foods, and that's what we'll do at the Oak Cliff spot," Mert says. "It'll be a pretty similar menu, with a few little changes, but it'll be the same cuisine."
Kebabs will be a huge thing, plus seafood, vegetarian offerings, and a selection of Turkish-style flatbread pizzas, plus a full bar.
They're adding a pizza oven, and just like Selda, they'll also host a hookah smoking lounge.
The original Selda on Belt Line Road will remain open. But now it'll have an Oak Cliff sibling — one that pays respects to the building's history. That's because one of the things Jim Lake requested was that they keep "Mayor's House" in the name.
Thus: Mayor's House by Selda.
"There isn't anywhere else that has this very good quality of food we have in Selda, and we wanted to bring that to Dallas," Mert says.