Stanley Kooyumjian’s story and recipes recently appeared in The Armenian Mirror-Spectator. I share this with you, thanks to Christine Datian.
Stanley Kooyumjian’s story:
The original concept for Stanley’s famous Armenian Cuisine Restaurants was developed at the Home Market, an old downtown Fresno grocery store that opened in 1903. It was later owned by George Kooyumjian, Stanley’s hard-working immigrant father.
George came to America and settled his family in Fresno at the time of the Armenian Genocide. He began working at the Home Market as a butcher, preparing lamb cuts and marinated shish kebab. George’s prized recipe for shish kebab had been passed down by father to son in the Kooyumjian family for generations. The Home Market’s popularity grew with Fresno’s local Armenian community in the 1930s and 1940s, as it specialized in featuring a variety of Armenian foods like rice, bulgur, beans, lamb, bread [lavash], cheese, grape leaves, and plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.
George became a respected caterer for local Armenian church dinners and picnics throughout the San Joaquin Valley.
On his father’s death in the summer of 1958, young Stanley Kooyumjian and his devoted, talented mother, Gladys, took over the family business, worked together for years. They eventually opened Stanley’s Armenian Cuisine Restaurant in downtown Fresno, and later, a second location, Stanley’s on Shaw Avenue. Both very popular, Stanley’s restaurants were known for featuring delicious Armenian cuisine, impeccable service, and for an endless choice of fine wines and spirits. Like his father, Stanley specialized in catering services for many local Fresno businesses, special events, and weddings, and was an expert in wine and the preparation of lamb. His catering services served as many as 1,500 people at a single setting, with Stanley often cooking his family’s traditional shish kebab recipe over his own barbecue.
When Stanley sold the family business, he did not abandon fine cuisine, lamb, or wine. He retired from the restaurant business in 1983 and joined the American Sheep Producers Association as the West Coast marketing director. In 1998, at an Armenian Studies Banquet at California State University, Fresno (CSUF), Stanley served as a special guest chef, preparing a memorable braised-lamb shanks dinner for over 250 guests for His Beatitude Archbishop Torkom Manoogian, Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem.
Here are two of Stanley’s recipes- Shish Kebab and Kouzou Kuzartma (Baked Lamb Shanks). Enjoy!
My family LOVES stuffed grape leaves, (aka sarma or yalanchi) but the process of stuffing…