Papken Suni ‘Agoump’ Enjoys New Look

by Tom Vartabedian

May 11, 2012

As memory recalls, some of my most productive and meaningful days as
a teenager were spent at the Papken Suni Agoumpin Watertown, Mass.,
attending AYF gatherings with the Somerville “Nejdeh” Chapter.

Kevork and Mania Boyajian get ready to serve up a meal at the Papken
Suni ‘Agoump’ in Watertown.

To get downstairs to the meeting room, you would pass through the
main hall where patrons had gathered, sipping their brandy and smoking
their cigars over a backgammon board.

It was an eclectic piece of my childhood because some of the greatest
people in my organization had tentacles here. Whenever we needed an
educational on Armenian history, the call would reach upstairs and
down would come some erudite individual like a James Mandalian or a
Jimmy Tashjian.

All that’s changed now. Gone are the smoke and tavlou boards,
the pinochle games and politics of their time. In their place is
a restaurant, still operated by the Boston Gomideh, and managed by
Kevork and Mania Boyajian.

They are at your beckoning service, day and night, cooking up a storm
and sending you off with a delectable smile and full palate. And
they’re trying to make it solely with an Armenian clientele, be it
casual dining, weddings, mercy meals, and family outings.

With a capacity of 120, the dining area oozes with personality,
enhanced by Armenian art and other mementos of our proud history. A
hardwood floor adds to the luster.

It’s been an aggressive transformation of its tired self, marked
by a six-figure renovation. It’s “all in the family” around here as
two children, Koko, 15, and Mary, 11, pitch a hand when needed. Two
sisters are also on call, Tanya Giroian and Nora Karamousaian, not
to exclude Kevork Moushilian.

“It’s like inviting you into our home,” says Kevork. “Everyone who
comes in here is like family and we wouldn’t want it any other way.

We’re trying to get the word out.”

The new-look Agoump could very well be the best-kept secret in
Watertown. But not from the ARF-ARS crowd that has quickly hopped
aboard. One regular happens to be oudist Richard Berberian. Another
is Dro Kanayan, a grandson of General Dro who probably frequented
this place as an ARFer, not to exclude his dad Mardik, another Papken
Suni aficionado.

Berberian is part of a group called the Council of Armenian Executives,
a business network that has held its workshops and business meetings

“For the price and quality, how can you go wrong here?” Berberian
says. “The hospitality is only surpassed by the food.”

The Boyajians have been married 16 years. They’re from Aleppo and
settled in Watertown 15 years ago. Managing a restaurant was the
furthest thing from their minds.

He left his job as an auto body mechanic while she worked at a dry
cleaning establishment. The place opened in January. Previously, the
Gomideh had rented the club to the Homenetmen over the last 15 years.

“They tell me it takes about five years for a new business to develop,”
says Kevork, a proud Gomideh member. “Up until that time, this will
continue to be a work in progress. We’re hoping the word gets out
slowly to area communities.”

On this particular night, the Lowell Gomideh gathered for a
dinner-meeting, on Berberian’s eager recommendation. We were 11
individuals, seated at one long table breaking bread together. The
spirit was, well, let’s say “Hye.”

Libations aside, the mezza was just what the epicurean in us might
have ordered. On came the yalanchi, tabouleh, and hummus with fresh
bread, which could have been a meal in itself. All appetizers are
within the $5-$8 range.

But no. Bent on ordering individual meals, our hostess Mania, who
handles much of the preparation work, recommended two platters with
the works. Those were combo plates ($14) with abundant chicken and
beef served over a salad and rice pilaf.

After all the grabbing was done, a half platter remained for
take-home. The unger with the closest birthday got to take it
home. I lost.

The falafel sandwich I’m told is a signature dish. I had a chicken
kebab rollup one other time for lunch and it was a treat. All
sandwiches and rollups are reasonably priced between $6-$8.

Was this the same Kevork Boyajian who showed up the past two
Octobers at Camp Haiastan for the ARF Panagoum? The very same chef
who was called out time and again for his culinary bows after another
scrumptious meal? One and the same.

We left the establishment whistling a merry tune, knowing it was an
evening well spent and digested.

From: A. Papazian

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