Armenian meals neighborhood helps the battle in Azerbaijan


Early on the morning of Sept. 30, Armen Martirosyan’s mom got here to him with some information. Cousins in Armenia have been becoming a member of the battle in opposition to Azerbaijani forces in Nagorno-Karabakh.

The territory, a mountainous space a bit bigger than Rhode Island, is internationally acknowledged as a part of Azerbaijan. The enclave, nonetheless, is self-governed and populated by ethnic Armenians, who fought off assaults by varied empires during the last 2,000 years. They continued to manage the realm, regardless of being made a part of the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic by Josef Stalin within the 1920s.

Because the finish of September, greater than 100 folks have been killed within the area, known as Artsakh by ethnic Armenians. Each side accuse the opposite of escalating the violence. Russia brokered a cease-fire Saturday, however all sides has accused the opposite of violating the settlement.

“My household is so removed from Armenia, so I needed to assume, what can we do from right here?” mentioned Martirosyan, 31, who alongside along with his mother and father owns and operates Mini Kabob restaurant in Glendale. His rapid response? Donate a day’s proceeds to humanitarian efforts in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Inside minutes, he logged on to the restaurant’s Instagram account and posted a message to its 27,000 followers: “The entire proceeds as we speak at Mini Kabob will likely be despatched to Armenia…. We love you Armenia we’re with you each step of the best way.”

The rippling results of a conflict raging greater than 7,000 miles away are felt deeply by members of the Armenian diaspora in Southern California, a lot of whom are descendants of survivors of the Armenian genocide, when almost 1.5 million Armenians have been killed by the Ottoman Empire starting in 1915. Turkey has vowed to help its longtime ally Azerbaijan; the 2 international locations have sturdy ethnic and cultural ties.

Martirosyan has greater than 20 cousins dwelling in Armenia; at the very least eight of them, he mentioned, have already joined the battle. For him, what’s taking place in Nagorno-Karabakh is private. He was in a position to elevate $three,000 to ship to organizations that help Armenia and the self-proclaimed Republic of Artsakh, together with the Armenia Fund. The Glendale nonprofit works on varied humanitarian initiatives that profit Armenia and the Armenian diaspora.

“We’re going to donate on daily basis as a lot as I can,” he mentioned. “I gained’t drive my automobile or put fuel in my automobile to know the Armenia individuals are getting that cash.”

A restaurant owner puts a sign in a window reading A proud business supporting Armenia and Artsakh

Armen Martirosyan places up an indication at his Glendale restaurant, Mini Kabob, displaying his help for the Armenians within the area identified to them as Artsakh.

(Christina Home / Los Angeles Occasions)

Mini Kabob is among the many Armenian-owned meals companies in Los Angeles utilizing its platform to lift funds for and consciousness of the lethal battle within the South Caucasus. For them, it’s an efficient means to introduce many non-Armenian clients to the historical past of and present state of affairs in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Artur Kasabyan, who owns Hen Field fried hen restaurant in North Hollywood, mentioned he tries to strike up a dialog with clients once they stroll in.

“I ask them if they’ve heard in regards to the latest information with what’s been happening with Armenia,” Kasabyan mentioned. “I clarify to them that it’s a disputed land problem that’s been happening for years and that Armenia simply desires peace.”

Quite than make a single, private financial contribution, he thought soliciting donations via his restaurant might additionally assist unfold consciousness amongst non-Armenian clients. After asserting his donation marketing campaign on Instagram, Kasabyan mentioned he obtained about 62 extra orders than the earlier Saturday and was in a position to donate $three,500 to the Armenia Fund.

Armen Piskoulian, the chef-owner of Oui Melrose and Tony Khachapuri in Hollywood, can be utilizing his place as a meals enterprise proprietor to encourage help for Armenia. His great-grandparents have been survivors of the Armenian genocide. For him, the latest preventing echoes the killings of the genocide.

“I normally don’t combine politics with enterprise, however that is so private that I might really feel like a idiot if I didn’t contribute again to my folks,” he mentioned.

On Monday, Piskoulian used the #ArtsakhStrong hashtag and introduced through Instagram that he was donating that day’s income to the Armenia Fund. He says many shoppers, each Armenian and never, confirmed as much as purchase meals. The hashtag has been used greater than 93,000 instances.

Carousel restaurant co-owner Rosalie Tcholakian just lately introduced an identical marketing campaign. Along with pledging 25% of the gross sales when a buyer mentions Azerbaijan, she and her husband donated $5,000 to the Armenia Fund within the restaurant’s identify.

“We’re utilizing social media and all of the hashtags and verbal communication with the servers to assist convey consciousness to the visitors,” she mentioned.

She tells her servers to let the shoppers know in regards to the promotion and is brainstorming how else she may give diners a visible reminder.

Although she doesn’t promote it, Tcholakian mentioned she doesn’t use any Turkish merchandise within the restaurant, regardless of feeling that a few of them are extra “prime quality” than choices from elsewhere.

“When our distributors convey meals from the Center East, the salesperson will say that is purple pepper from Turkey and that is one from Syria or Beirut, and you’ll see the distinction,” she mentioned. “Nevertheless it’s a sacrifice that we’ll make.”

The refusal to make use of or promote Turkish merchandise is one other method Armenian-owned companies are demonstrating help for Armenia, in a present of each financial and symbolic riot in opposition to all issues Turkey. Jons Recent Market, a series of Armenian-owned grocery shops with two dozen areas in Los Angeles, introduced on Oct. 1 that it was pulling all Turkish merchandise off its cabinets.

Signs in a window of a butcher shop

An indication posted at Garni Meat Market in Pasadena proclaims the butcher store is a Turkish-product-free zone.

(Jenn Harris / Los Angeles Occasions)

“Though Jons Recent Market is a company with no political affiliation, we do make choices with the advantage of the communities we serve in thoughts,” learn a company-issued assertion from market President Jack Berberian. “Consequently, Jons Recent Market has determined to take away objects labeled as ‘Product of Turkey’ from our cabinets. Jons is delicate to the battle, and we really feel that is the most effective choice for our communities and our staff.”

Piskoulian is making an identical effort. Although it’s one thing he’s accomplished for years, he feels refusing to make use of Turkish merchandise is very vital now. If he can’t discover one thing similar to a pepper paste, and the one various is Turkish, he’ll rework the recipe.

“I can’t knowingly exit and purchase stuff and use it understanding that cash goes to a authorities via taxation, that finally desires the demise of my folks,” he mentioned.

At Garni Meat Market in Pasadena, an indication out entrance proudly proclaims a Turkish-product-free zone. The market is on a stretch of Washington Boulevard closely populated with Armenian-owned companies and residents.

“We’re doing our half to make our neighborhood Turkey Free Zone! We don’t carry or use Turkish Merchandise,” reads the signal. It prompts readers to work together with @TurkishProductFreeZone on Fb or Instagram. The social media account has an lively presence on-line, posting pictures of markets that promote Turkish merchandise.

Harout Khachoyan, whose father, Alex, owns the butcher store, mentioned folks from the @TurkishProductFreeZone group just lately visited the market and inquired about the usage of Turkish merchandise. When the Khachoyans mentioned they hadn’t offered Turkish merchandise for greater than 20 years, the group members provided the market an indication to place out entrance.

Khachoyan just lately introduced through social media that the store would donate 20% of income for the rest of the month to the Armenia Fund.

Papillon Worldwide Bakery proprietor Jack Torosian has vowed to donate $5,000 per week to the Armenia Fund, however he’s additionally taking a extra hands-on method along with his efforts. Torosian was one of many first folks to demonstrate in front of the CNN Los Angeles headquarters Oct. three, demanding extra media protection of the preventing. Early that morning, he and a few mates began texting everybody they knew, letting them know to collect in entrance of the Sundown Boulevard constructing.

“Everybody who got here down introduced one thing with them,” he mentioned. “It’s simply our tradition. Blankets, meals, there have been grandmas making espresso within the nook.”

Round 10 p.m., Torosian organized a supply of about 600 pastries. His bakery handed out ponchicks (a kind of stuffed doughnut) and perashkis (a savory stuffed pastry) to feed the protesters all through the night time.

“You wish to battle and yell and do something, however what are you able to do?” he requested. “We’re doing the whole lot we will and offering meals.”

Torosian was born in Yerevan and fled Armenia in the course of the Nagorno-Karabakh Struggle within the early ’90s. He’s making banners to offer to any enterprise, Armenian or not, that donates $5,000 or extra to the Armenia Fund.

“Our [five] bakeries have greater than 50% clients from different nationalities coming in,” he mentioned. “It offers us entry to them to coach them and for them to know us.”