Photo via Nusret Gokce/Instagram

The meme economy gives back: #Saltbae is opening new restaurants

Saltbae's restaurant empire is expanding outside Turkey.


Jay Hathaway

Internet Culture

Published Jan 25, 2017   Updated May 25, 2021, 3:31 am CDT

Now that he’s conquered the Internet, Saltbae is setting out to conquer the world.

Turkish butcher and restaurateur Nusret Gökçe became famous for the finishing touch he puts on all his meat, a flashy sprinkling of salt. Now that his image is a meme seen by millions worldwide, he says he plans to bring his food to his new audience, too. New locations of his Nusr-et grill-house are planned for London and New York City (he already has one in Dubai).

Saltbae told Turkish newspaper the Hurriyet Daily News that the restaurants could open within the next few months. Although he does not speak English, he told the paper he “could communicate with people through meat.”

From the brief Hurriyet article, we also learn Saltbae’s origin story: 

“People see me as uncouth. I am the son of a mine worker. My father and mother do not know literacy. I cannot go to school due to financial difficulties. I started to working at a butcher as an apprentice when I was 14. Meat has become a passion for me,” he added.

The lesson here is that forced virality doesn’t work, and the Internet recognizes sincerity. Gökçe wasn’t trying to become a meme, he was just doing what he loved and putting it on Instagram. A more aggressive marketing strategy would no doubt have backfired, where casually dashing salt onto a slab of meat like some kind of wizard succeeded.

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*First Published: Jan 25, 2017, 6:03 am CST