Davit Yeremyan: From one food stand to a famous restaurant chain

27.11.2017 | 09:26 Home / News / Interviews /
#Davit Yeremyan #Yeremyan Projects
Yeremyan Projects, the organization comprising Tavern Yerevan chain, Yerevani Shaurma, Lavash and Sherep restaurants, recently began working more actively on its social programs. We talked with Yeremyan Projects CEO Davit Yeremyan about the organization and the path it has traversed.

How it started

I borrowed several hundred dollars from my sister in 2001 and opened a small food stand in the underpass near Rossia cinema, where I and an employee made and sold shish-kebab. As time went by, I opened another stand, then a third one and a fourth. Finally I opened Yerevan Khachapuri, again near Rossia cinema, and I suppose we can consider that my entry into the restaurant business before I developed the idea of Tavern Yerevan.

Despite my best efforts and achievements, I still had to deal with my parents’ lack of faith in my vision (laughs – Mediamax). However, that also motivated me to keep moving forward, as I had a strong desire to prove them wrong.

The birth of Tavern Yerevan

I conducted a small research and it became clear to me that Armenian cuisine wasn’t properly represented in Yerevan. There was no real Armenian restaurant serving traditional food, dishes largely or almost entirely forgotten, and no restaurant with a unique style that would enclose the agenda of homemade food.  

The first Tavern Yerevan opened in 2006, on Khorenatsi St. It was so successful that we had shortage of tables and couldn’t take in more customers. Soon we started hearing people say, “Don’t try to go to Tavern Yerevan, there’s never a free table anyway.”

We opened a second restaurant in 2008 to satisfy the demand, this time on Paronyan St. We started cooperating with tourism companies and quite soon faced the same problem: we just couldn’t cope with the amount of people who wanted to visit Tavern Yerevan.

The third tavern opened on Amiryan St. Unexpectedly for us, the restaurant was full five days after the opening.

In that period with we worked a lot on the idea of developing national cuisine. As a unique part of the national image, cuisine is affected by foreign influence and cannot be limited to just one nation or culture. That is the reason we strived to combine the best traditions of Armenian and overall Caucasian cuisine from the day we launched Tavern Yerevan.

The tavern we opened on Teryan St in 2013 provided the best combination of the ideas and projects that we worked so hard to implement.

Lavash restaurant

We came up with the idea of this restaurant as we noticed a lack of shades in Yerevan, in terms of both color and taste. We opened Lavash to bring in that diversity and it brightened the city, representing Armenian cuisine in the frame of Mediterranean colors.

Apart from our unique menu, we offer healthy Armenian breakfast in a nice atmosphere and desserts made by our own recipes, now a trademark of Lavash.

Sherep restaurant

Sherep is entirely different from our other projects. It is the first restaurant in Yerevan with a large, open kitchen.

Sherep’s menu doesn’t belong in any national cuisine, but it is rather a delicious set of the most interesting dishes from different cultures. I hope the special colors of Sherep will also add to Yerevan’s food palette.

Whose khinkali is better?

We had a regular customer who came to TavernYerevan, ordered khinkali and made the same comment every time, “Taghlauri in Tbilisi makes better khinkali.”

We never stopped working on our khinkali recipe, we experimented to improve it and in the end, our khinkali was always tasty. When the mentioned customer came again and made his usual remark, we had no reservations about just getting into the car and going to the Taghlauri restaurant in Tbilisi. We tasted their khinkali, got a frozen takeaway and brought it to Yerevan. The unhappy regular came in the very following day and we prepared for him the khinkali we brought from Tbilisi. He tried it and said, “Today you ruined khinkali completely!” (laughs - Mediamax). For many years now that man is our loyal, regular customer.

The secret of quality

We plan our work in detail before starting a new project. We set the sequence of actions very clearly: what needs to be changed to integrate the project smoothly into our overall system, what needs to be done to ensure the project operates within the system. Of course, every restaurant in our network has its own kitchen crew, but we pay special attention to staff retraining, which is a never-ending process. That is one of the main factors that help us achieve good results.

Having good cooks is not to ensure good quality. I won’t reveal a secret if I say that organizing a regular supply of fresh products is very difficult in Yerevan. We made a decision to solve this problem and opened a storage facility for agricultural products in Avan village of Aragatsotn marz.

We actively cooperated with many farms in different marzes before opening the storage, working within the globally popular farm-to-table agenda. We took it as a basis and we buy all our products directly from the producer, if they comply with our requirements and standards of quality. We made the farm-to-table agenda more objective by opening the storage facility in Avan. Since 2010, we prepare the compote, jams, pickles and various types of salted food by ourselves for all our restaurants, which is a way to be self-sufficient. We actually came up with this idea when we realized we couldn’t find the products compliant with our standards.

Another important factor for quality is the customer’s exactingness. We represent the national cuisine, so every time people try our dishes, they compare that food with what their mothers or grandmothers cooked. That means that making national dishes in Yerevan is harder than, for instance, Italian or Arab food, because people can easily find points of comparison and therefore, be more critical.

Team selection

We hire people who have the same fundamental values and character as us. That concerns not only the chefs and waiting staff, but all employees of our company. What I mean by ‘character’ is love for the job, dedication, and aspiration to do things with the best quality.

All links in the chain must work well in order to make the customer happy, not only the waiters and cooks, but also the staff that works the front of the house, janitors and general workers, managers and directors. We are the people who live to work, and our team spirit is very strong. None of our employees is more important than the other.

We treat our customers the same way we would receive and feed a guest in our house. If a customer walks out without saying ‘thank you’, we know we have a problem. We need to understand why the person found no reason to thank us.

Our whole network daily serves two thousand people on average and we record problems with only 0.5% of all customers. I think it’s a good index.

On the dream and success

There will always be difficulties and challenges, but they are an integral part of life and they help us learn and move forward. All ups and downs in business or life are a test of our will. They make us stronger and wiser. It’s very important to follow your dream and stop silencing your inner voice with absurd and demotivational noise. Believe in yourself and never stop dreaming. This is the motto of Yeremyan Projects: “Every job starts as a dream”.

Ara Tadevosyan talked to David Yeremyan
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