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February 16, 2014

Lemon Tree mixes Mediterranean cuisine with traditional menu choices

NORMAN — Birol Tecimer did not expect to end up in Oklahoma, and he certainly didn’t expect to spend his life here, but that is exactly what happened.

Persuaded by a sister to earn his master’s degree at the University of Oklahoma, Tecimer first came to Norman in 1998. While here, he met, fell in love and married Nui.

Birol is originally from Turkey. Nui Tecimer is from Thailand. Their love story doesn’t end with their marriage — it extends to include food, fellowship, family and friends.

Over the course of time, the couple made several trips to Turkey where Nui fell in love all over again — this time with Turkish food. Learning to prepare those Mediterranean dishes became her passion. When she began cooking for friends, a lot of people told her she should open a restaurant. An accountant, Nui smiled and humbly accepted the compliments.

Little did her husband know what was taking root in Nui’s heart and mind.

When La Baguette moved from 924 W. Main St. across from Norman High School, that restaurant property became available.

Nui told Birol she wanted to quit her day job, start a restaurant and cook Turkish food.

At first, he thought she was joking, but Nui was serious about pursuing her dream. Now Birol supports her efforts 100 percent, he said, playing chauffeur to the couple’s children when she’s tied up working at the restaurant. Birol said his wife works from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. nonstop.

That’s OK — it’s a labor of love.

“It is very challenging, but I see her happiness,” he said.

Nui and Birol Tecimer wanted to offer the Norman community something people can’t find at fast food restaurants. They wanted to bring the Turkish tradition of lingering over a meal with family and friends by creating a restaurant where people could enjoy long conversations or read a book without being hustled to make the table available.

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