Downtown Skokie's latest edition adds another ethnic restaurant to an already robust pallet of choices in the downtown area.
Siunik Armenian Grill, 4839 Oakton St., opened its doors in January, but the man behind the grill took an interesting path to becoming his own boss.
Originally a deacon for St. James Church in Evanston, owner Levon Kirakosyan, 30, made the move from man of God to chef after friends encouraged him to open his own restaurant, he said.
"I worked at St. James for six years. I was basically a pastor, with exception, I couldn't do Sacrament," Kirakosyan said. "When I was doing my duties as a pastor, people would sometimes come to my home to talk to me. Everyone would taste my mom's food and say how good and healthy it is, so I decided to open a restaurant."
When it came to choosing a location, Kirakosyan said it was an easy choice to pick his storefront in downtown Skokie.
"The [upcoming Yellow Line addition] was a big reason in my decision," he said.
The Armenian restaurant is about a five-minute walk from the new train station. Kirakosyan feels that will present an excellent opportunity to serve customers. Still, despite the train not being open yet, Kirakosyan said he's already busier than he expected.
"Business is very good," he said. "It is much better than I was expecting it to be. About 90 percent of the customers I have are all repeat customers. Armenia is a tiny little country, like the size of Maryland, and we offer a lot in our food.
"The other thing I want to add is our food is what I like to say, 'guilt free meal,' you eat the meal and have no regrets after eating it. It is healthy and not boring," he added.
When asked what experiences he brought over from working at a church to his restaurant business, Kirakosyan said: "When I was doing my duties as a pastor, people would always come to talk to me. I'm a people person. I enjoy being with people and working with people."