From small business to Persian food empire


To tell the story of Persia Grill, one must go way back when Ali Kazemi (Kian’s father) made his move to the Philippines from Iran (Persia). Here he met his wife, Charito, and they started their family and settled in Manila. Ali would then teach Charito family recipes. She would eventually learn how to make Persian dishes. Another good thing to note is that Kian’s parents were business people at heart.

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Kian would take after them. As a kid in school, he would sell basketball cards to his classmates, even recounting a time where he made a really good deal. He would eventually start selling sandwiches in college, his first foray into food entrepreneurship. There was no loss in his system; he would take orders a day before and bring all the sandwiches the next day. He was too independent, even as a young man, to ask for an allowance—a testament to his upbringing.

When Kian would have friends over to his place, his mom would make classic Persian food. Needless to say, his friends loved the food and jokingly said he should put up a restaurant. While some would laugh off such comments, Kian saw it as an opportunity. “Why not?” he said, convinced that it was something that could easily be done.

As Kian’s first branch was being built, he got the call from a local station inviting him to be part of a prominent reality TV show. He was hesitant because it was a few weeks from the opening of his restaurant. He had consulted his mother, who told him to just go for it. Construction was almost done, and rather than just waiting for opening, his mother told him to take the offer, as it may be a good experience. “An idle mind is the devil’s playground,” he quoted her as saying.

Know more about Kian and Persia Grill’s journey inside Asian Dragon Magazine’s January-February issue.

[Photographs: PJ Enriquez]


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