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Top 5 Armenian Owned Businesses in Philadelphia

Top 5 Armenian Owned Businesses in Philadelphia

Before diving into the sector of the Armenian owned businesses in Philadelphia, USA let’s see how the migration of Armenians to the United States started and where the roots of the Armenian firstcomers began.

Armenians’ residency in the United States dates back to the American colonial period. The first person identified as Armenian in the New World came, most likely, in 1618 or 1619. Referred to as “Martin the Armenian,” this early Armenian immigrant is mentioned several times in the available records until 1624, at which time, presumably, Martin returned to England with the tobacco he had grown in Virginia. Several other Armenians followed “Martin to Virginia”, and their contributions are recorded in various spheres from the mid-seventeenth century onward. By the 17th century, Armenians were already renowned for their silk-weaving production. As such, early colonial figures sought expertise from Armenians abroad around 1653. Another Armenian, “George the Armenian,” has been eulogized in print. 

The pioneers of Armenian immigration to the United States were young high school graduates who, beginning in 1834, arrived in small numbers in search of higher education at American universities. The influx of Armenian immigrants to the New World reached its peak in the aftermath of the 1915 Armenian Genocide when large numbers of Armenians living in Turkey were systematically persecuted, deported, and exterminated by the Ottoman regime. Starting from the late 1950s a new wave of Armenians started coming from Iran, Iraq, Lebanon which was due to the rising crisis in the Middle East. The immigration continued during the collapse of the Soviet Union and the following years. Most of the newcomers settled in Massachusetts, Philadelphia, and California. Slowly Armenians started feeling at home and opening local Armenian businesses in the United States to cover the expenses and maintain their families.

Now let’s look at the Armenian-owned businesses in Philadelphia and how you can find them!

Top 5 Armenian Owned Businesses in Philadelphia

Apricot Stone is an Armenian BYOB located in Northern Liberties in Philadelphia. The restaurant was established in 2016. The chef, Fimy Ishkanian, co-owner of the Apricot Stone moved to the United States in the early 1980s, and after working in several restaurants and perfecting her cuisine as well as mastering recipes she opened her first restaurant ‘Fimy’s Kitchen’ in 1993 and in 1995 she successfully opened the second location in Philadelphia as well. 

Growing up in an Armenian family in Aleppo, Syria, chef Fimy followed closely on how her mother was preparing meals for family dinners and events. By bringing the Armenian and Mediterranean kitchen to Philadelphia chef Fimy and Ara, her son and co-owner of Apricot Stone, are proudly serving the Philly community and its guests for over three decades. As Ara states, the vast majority of the visitors of Apricot Stone, about 80%, are foreigners, and the other 20% Armenian friends and family members.

Working seven days a week at the restaurant and particularly after the lockdown of COVID-19, Ara, the co-owner of the Apricot Stone, wanted to make a change and make the customer experience more entertaining and different from the other restaurants. He launched a “Virtual video dining experience” using digital communication platforms like FaceTime, Duo to recreate the in-person experience. 

The virtual video dining is working in the following way: once the reservations are ready, Ara is calling the guests and introducing them to the menu, helping them with their order. After 5-10 minutes, when the order is complete and has reached the customers he calls back in order to check in on the order and understand their satisfaction level.

I-AM.AM had a pleasure to visit Apricon Stone in person during their Philadelphia visit and test the delicious Lahmajoun (Մսալոշ) along with the Falafel and other Armenian yummies. It was very impressing to see and take yourself to Armenia for a moment. The place was full of Armenia related items, where to begin:

  • Apricot” as a logo at the door,
  • Armenian music playing all the time,
  • Menu, fool of Armenian foods only,
  • Pictures: Pictures of Ararat, Yerevan and other parts of Armenia all over the walls that are taking you back to Armenia…

 

Sounds entertaining, right?

Interested to see what other new experiences Apricot Stone will provide its customers in the near future, follow their website or social media accounts and make sure to visit them when travelling to Philly.

The iron oven restaurant's indoor sitting

Located in Southampton Philadelphia The Iron Oven is an Armenian owned restaurant opened in 2018. The owner, Alex Nalbandian, gained his cooking skills from his dad, Samuel Nalbandian, the owner of Rising Sun Pizza in Northeast Philadelphia. In April 2018, he decided to use all the skills learned from his father and open his own place called The Iron Oven.

The Iron Oven offers a variety of foods from burgers to pizza to pasta, so it’s great for whatever cuisine you are used to, they have a separate kids friendly menu as well. Per Alex, the most popular item in their menu is stromboli. The Iron Oven aims to keep the Nalbandian family’s culinary roots but in the meantime tries to be agile to the new recipes by bringing in the flavors of the different cuisines together.

Check out The Iron Oven’s I-AM.AM Listing page for more information.

Are you ready to see an almost 100 years old company? A company that has made so far and has always been managed by the same family line. Zakian Rug Cleaning in Philadelphia is one of the oldest Armenian companies in the United States that stands nowadays and is owned by its third generation. Bob Zakian, the current owner of the Zakian Rugs Cleaning is proudly managing the company that his grandfather established in 1923. Over the 100 years the company has seen a great depression, the Second World War and several economic crises.

The Zakian family immigrated to the United States in the early 1920s. Soon after immigrating to this country Hagop Zakian and his wife, Aghavni, started going door to door in West Philadelphia offering their services as rug cleaners. They got a truck and carted rugs to their home where they scrubbed them with soap, squeezed them with rollers and then hung them to dry. This is how they mastered the business and got their children to be involved in the family business as well.

Founders of Zakian Rug Cleaning

When the Zakian Oriental Rugs Cleaning was originally open the rug cleaning process was done differently than nowadays it was being done by hand, as most Armenian families did. Now, about a hundred years later, Matthew Zakian (the fourth generation of Zakian family) is overseeing new technologies to make fine rugs even cleaner and to preserve the colors and the quality.

The company proudly serves in three states Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and Delaware. So, are you ready to take your carpets to Philadelphia for cleaning?

Armenian Delight

grocery store in Philadelphia

Armenian Delight is a local grocery store located in Broomall, Pennsylvania. Armenian Delight is not a restaurant which it is often being confused with. It is an ethnic Armenian grocery store, having a great selection of middle eastern foods and treats. 

You can’t get more authentic Armenian food than family owned and operated Armenian Delight, a modest ethnic grocery store located in a crowded strip mall along West Chester Pike. The owner, Astghik Ghazanchian, who migrated to the United States in 1960 and after working herself in local grocery stores decided to create her own authentic place in 1978 March (she doesn’t clearly remember the date, “It was around Easter time” – Astghik says). “I used to be good at everything but not cooking, marriage has changed my life, especially when I had to take care of my family and accept guests” – this is how Astghik is starting to learn how to cook and master it. Astghik is known for her philanthropic initiatives, after the 1988 Spitak Earthquake Astghik and Armenian Delight became a home and place of work for lots of Armenian families and periodically supporting the local Armenian churches.

If you’re a fan of Mediterranean/ Indian/ Middle Eastern cuisine, you will love Armenian Delight’s food and won’t be disappointed. People actually travel significant distances to come here and get their Armenian treats at the holidays and all year round. 70% of the store customers are non-Armenians.

Another interesting fact about Armenian Delight is that COVID-19 had a positive impact on them. The customers’ number grew significantly, as a lot of places were closed and Armenian Delight was proposing a takeout option in their services helped the business to overcome the COVID-19 lockdown and come out of it with benefits.

Storefront of the Armenian Delight

Traveling to Philly, make sure to stop by and check out their great selection of Armenian/ Mediterranean foods.

Mediterranean Foods

Armenian Lahmajoun and Sujuk

Mediterranean Foods, Inc. is located in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania. Owners Karekin and Ardemiss Ayanian have lived in the Philadelphia region for over 50 years. Karekin and his family escaped in the 60’s from communist Romania, while Ardemiss’ family immigrated from Israel also at the same time. They met through the AYF and have been married for nearly 50 years. Together they began producing lahmajun and soujuk for discriminating taste buds 27 years ago. The business has grown throughout the years via word-of-mouth advertising. In addition to walk-ins, they ship their products to customers across the United States. The Ayanian family’s iconic gold labeled products can be found at Middle Eastern and Armenian grocers, as well as restaurants, throughout the Northeast Corridor.

Orders can only be placed by calling 610-622-5955

Make sure to check out at least one of the top 5 Armenian owned businesses from our list when traveling to Philadelphia and share your experience with us and your community.

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