La Méditerranée Celebrates 25 Years

By Richard Kloian
Friday December 21, 2007

On Saturday Nov. 3 La Méditerranée in Berkeley, or “La Med” as it is known to locals, celebrated its 25th anniversary in the Elmwood neighborhood of Berkeley with a private party for its employees and families, friends and special guests that filled the evening with music and circle dancing, food and friendly banter, reminiscent of the kind of upbeat socializing that has been its hallmark for many years.  

On behalf of the City of Berkeley, Mayor Tom Bates presented a proclamation to La Méditerranée in recognition of its 25 years of excellent service to Berkeley providing “a sociable meeting place of great food, good cheer and wonderful ambiance, adding greatly to the friendly environment of the Elmwood neighborhood and providing to Berkeley and the East Bay affordable Mediterranean cuisine of the finest quality as well as excellent catering. In closing he referred to Saturday Nov. 3, 2007 as “La Med’s day.”  

The private celebration was attended by some of La Med’s most loyal patrons, current and former employees, the family of La Med’s owner, Garbis Baghdassarian, along with prominent members of the Bay Area Armenian community. Guests enjoyed a sumptuous buffet of La Med’s most popular specialty dishes including a few Armenian specialties prepared by Baghdasarian’s wife Silva.  

Traditional Middle Eastern music was performed throughout the evening by an ensemble of musicians led by Souren Baronian, who flew out from New York for the occasion. The party continued well into the night as guests trickled in to eat, drink, dance, and to congratulate La Med on 25 years of success.  

Midway through the evening Ara Baghdassarian, Garbis’ son, who is also an employee at La Med, gave a speech in which he outlined the restaurant’s history and the impact it has had on the surrounding community. He also introduced Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates and his wife Assemblywoman Lonnie Hancock and also thanked his uncle Levon Der Bedrossian for starting it all many years ago. Garbis himself delivered a heartfelt speech in which he thanked La Med’s employees and patrons, as well as his family, the city of Berkeley, and the neighborhood of Elmwood for their years of support.  

The La Méditerranée restaurant mini chain was first founded in the Bay Area in 1979 by Levon Der Bedrossian with two restaurants in San Francisco, one on Filmore (1979) and one in Noe Valley (1981), and in 1982 he opened the Berkeley restaurant with Garbis Baghdassarian. The restaurants have won numerous awards including the Best of Citysearch and Best Caterer 2007 award.