Pub gardens are filling up, flowers are blooming and traffic is at a standstill again on Temple Way – but there is one step in the easing of coronavirus lockdown restrictions that Bristol has been waiting eagerly for: the re-opening of Jason Donervan.
And now, the pandemic is waning just enough to allow the serving of chicken shish, doner, burger and most importantly, chips, to the late night hungry hordes that have found themselves by accident or design, at the top end of the Clifton Triangle.
The van has been feeding those needing to be fed, and making passers-by who’ve never seen the pun before, chuckle for 23 years now, after original proprietor Mustapha, whose nickname was Jason, set it up with the best kebab van name in the world, back in 1998.
When Bristol Live told the kebab van’s story in 2018 to mark its 20th anniversary, new proprietor Nazif Yurt was already three years into taking the mantle on from Mustapha.
And then covid hit and everything shut down, including the little turntable with the doner meat on it inside Jason Donervan.
But now, after a long, cold, kebab-less winter, the news Bristol was waiting for has been announced.
“After a long wait we are now up and running!” announced Jason.
“It’s been a difficult time for all of us, but we can’t wait to see you guys again. Thanks for all your support. From Jason,” the announcement ended.
But there was one word of advice for those eager to factor in a stop at the Donervan on the way home – remember to keep enough cash. The van is currently only taking cash, but there is a cash machine nearby.
Back in 2018, Nazif said that his main priority is making sure everyone gets home safely after a night out, especially the most vulnerable – and that is still as true in 2021 as it always has been.
“We really care about the welfare of students and other people who have been out and got drunk – we want to make sure they’re okay as sometimes they come to us in a bad way,” he said at the time.
“Especially students who haven’t been here that long and don’t know the city too well. We almost act as a support line for them as well as a kebab van.
“If someone in not such a great place comes to us with not enough money to buy something and asks us nicely, we will try to feed them if we can, including homeless people.
“A few other places in town wouldn’t even give the customer food if they were 10p short.
“Also in the past people have dropped their phones, wallets and other things outside the van and we’ve tracked them down to return it to them after finding it when clearing up. It makes us feel good.”