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May 5, 2016

Worcester's Shiraz closing after 22 years

SAM BONACCI Jack Kochian stands in front of the flags that represent the many communities in Worcester that enjoyed his Armenian cooking for the last 45 years.

When Shiraz restaurant on Park Avenue in Worcester closes at the end of May, a connection to traditional Armenian food that has been enjoyed for 22 years will be gone.

“The first thing customers say is it’s just like my mother’s cooking,” Jack Kochian who runs the restaurant with his wife Koharig “Corina” said. “They come here and they feel like they are coming home. Not like they are coming to a restaurant.”

The mechanic and welder by trade decided 45 years ago to start cooking traditional food in the 1970s, shortly after getting married. He wanted to bring the food of his culture to the city of Worcester with its varied ethnic and religious communities. At that time the only restaurant serving similar food was the El Morocco, Kochian said, and knowing the owner well, he asked for his blessing before bringing his own culture’s food forward.

Since then, Kochian has had three restaurants, selling off his other restaurants before settling into Shiraz on Park Avenue. The size was perfect, he said, and the community has supported him incredibly throughout all these years. The restaurant would not have been a success without them, he said.

Many were so dismayed at finding out they would lose the hand-made traditional food that Kochian promised to cook a special meal for them every now and then. He will also continue doing catering for special occasions at the two Armenian churches in Worcester, but is primarily going to focus on his four grandchildren and enjoying his retirement.

“I’m not going to be lost. I am going to stay functioning,” he said.

The space will live on as a restaurant as the second location for Livia’s Dish. The announcement comes as other restaurant changes impact the city, including the opening of deadhorse hill restaurant downtown and the opening of a new location for the Fix Burger Bar.

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