We believe that cooking is preparation for life! Not only have we fallen in love with food, we have fallen in love with the dining experience. Emelia’s is more than an atmosphere, a glass of wine, or a well groomed server; it has become our future. We are preparing a recipe that hopefully transcends simple success and good food, but has the magic to make dreams come true.
In the summer of 2004, a couple embarked on a journey to create a home. While Kevork and Sara Ouyoumjian (Ou-u-m-g-an) do not live at Emelia’s, one could be easily fooled. Kevork, aka George, is from another world, or at least country. He was born in Syria as an Armenian Christian and moved to Los Angeles in the 60’s, where he operated a large towing service. After Los Angeles, he moved to Bryant, Arkansas in 1987, and at the time thought he was moving to another world. After living in Hot Springs, Arkansas and owning dry cleaners, he found a new home in Northwest, Arkansas. During George's time in Hot Springs George met Sara. Sara was born in Colorado Springs and actually lived in California for almost ten years. She moved to Arkansas in 1979 where she worked in the restaurant industry off and on until they started Emelia’s. She managed Café Pompeii in Hot Springs. Sara and George realized that their aspiration was to create a unique experience that served desire and passion.
George and Sara met on Valentines day in 2003, and by the Spring of next year, they were married and opened the restaurant. The first day they opened, Sara remembers pushing the contractors out the back door, while customers were coming in the front door. They had moved to Northwest Arkansas to generate an environment that would not only feed people, but impact their lives with eternal memories. Emelia’s was founded on memories, which was named after George’s mother Emelia Ouyoumjian. The inspiration for the menu was founded on his memories of his mother’s cooking. Therefore Emelia’s Kitchen’s menu has traditional Armenian culinary recipes at its foundation, and includes a Mediterranean flare. Featuring everything from homemade hummus, grilled Ahi Tuna steaks, grilled rack of lamb, and homemade baklava, the menu attempts to transport people from Northwest Arkansas to a land that only exist in fairy tales.
The atmosphere is aligned along that same path. It has been described as something out of New York or a Chicago suburb. Emelia’s believes that human senses can be powerful forces, and aspires to engage all of them. One can enjoy tasting homemade hollandaise with their eggs benedict, listening to a Sinatra serenade, seeing vibrant Dickson Street, smelling Middle Eastern spices floating in the air, or touching soft linen napkins. With black and white photography hanging on the walls people are transported to any place their imagination will take them.
But at the end of the day, Emelia’s is always preparing George and Sara for a new chapter in life. With goals for expansion, they are looking forward to introducing newly found friends to their home. This is why they are in the restaurant business, for the relationship that they form with all sorts of characters in life’s long story. Because they believe food is more than nutrition, it becomes the key to making life worthwhile.
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