Summer of 2003. CIY group in Ancona. I head out with a few of the students one night to see who we can meet. We end up hanging out with some breakdancers and following them to a little hole-in-the-wall joint near the port. We line up and it is hot. The guy in front of the large spit of meat is sweating all over the place. People are standing around eating what looks like a gyro or burrito. We get up to the front and follow our new friends' example and our lives are forever changed by the kebab.
A couple of years later, due to the success of the little place, the owner opened up a new location nearby and it became a regular part of the culture of our team. It was our default place to go when we needed to talk, get away, celebrate or get a non-Italian snack. 3.50 euro got you a delicious wrap filled with grilled beef/pork (not sure really), falafel, tomatos, lettuce, french fries, onions, a spicy red sauce, a cucumber sauce and a lot of mayo. But it became more than that. It became an experience, a haven, a refuge. It became our place. The Cheers bar. Central Perk. Monk's Diner. I even wrote a poem about it.
We were shocked and saddened to discover last month that the owner, Khaled, sold the business. A fresh coat of paint, most of the familiar signs taken down, carrots added to the menu, falafel taken off. It looks the same. I want to believe it is still our place...but it's not. We went tonight after the Finance Party and I'm sad to announce that I may have eaten my last kebab from our place. I won't go into details, but I regret to announce the death of the kebab.