Here I am standing one more time at the balcony of our newly refurbished family restaurant and trying to do a last minute check before the opening ceremony that starts in half an hour, but my mind is playing tricks with me and keeps tracking me back to years ago where things were much different in the same place.
My grandfather and my father started a restaurant business almost half a century ago where the world yet to be healed from the sufferings of the post WWII trauma was shattered between the East and the West.
They named the place TALAYI, means golden in Farsi and they were serving perhaps some of the best Iranian Kebabs in the town, but that was not all they were serving then.
Time passed by and TALAYI became famous not only for its kebabs but more because of the friendly atmosphere that the plates of the nicely made food were served to its usual customers and my God they were a lot of them on those days. My father lived life to its full, always smiling and always had something to tell you to cheer you up. He knew almost all of the costumers by name and was the one that they not only would spend their evenings with but also who they have always trusted to share their most personal secrets with him. I can still hear his laughter with his friends and costumers through the thick walls of this narrowly placed restaurant and now understand why people kept coming back to this place; because they comfortably felt they were at their owned restaurant and maybe at their second home.
And like many other places, TALAYI wasn’t safe of the late 70’s tormented waves of change followed by the longest war of the 20th century and was forced to be closed down as my father to an unprecedented early retirement.
After the war, new era had begun and the wave of the post war young population demanded to try and experience global taste and lifestyle, the new era needed new solutions. That period coincided with my return from UK when we turned the venue into a pioneer Italian restaurant where once again became one of hottest hubs in the capital.
Back then, 14 years ago, at SOGOLI LEON the new name of the venue, we introduced chicken wings and onion rings for the first time as well as Fettuccini Carbonara and the Mexican style Callezone to the Iran Pizza industry. These were times when the only pizza that was served was regular mixed pizza and the only spaghetti plate served was spaghetti Bolognese across the country.
Due to the nature of my other duty as the General Manager of one of the prominent advertising agencies in Iran I spent lots of time taking my foreign guests to different restaurants across the town most of them been newly opened and some of them with undeniably good services I have to admit; but probably the reason for me to revamp the venue was to create a place where it could deliver it all: original dishes, unrivaled services and exclusive settings.
And now, in the last year of the first decade of the twenty first century, the re-modified SOGOLI LEON is ready to host its attendees in an exquisite environment where the service is as good as the best international restaurants and the menu is a genuine experience for all those who would wish to taste the exquisite that the life has to offer, adding to the list the non-alcoholic cocktail bar that has been launched for the first time in Iran.
Now at the opening evening of our new family restaurant; we, the whole family think of our much beloved husband, father and grandfather who worked hard to make this island of joy where his memories are hidden into these walls, hidden maybe but never forgotten and to whom who showed us on how to cherish life with the people and for the people we know and care about most.
What maybe is lessening my father’s absence on this special date is the fact that his partner in life, my mother who worked as hard as my father throughout the years to build this place and my sister have traveled all the way from the States and I have the honor to have my mother cut the opening ribbon of our new restaurant that will always carry my father’s name from now on; LEON.