A Lesson in Longevity: Mi Piace
By Brianna Chu
November 19, 2019 will mark Mi Piace’s 30th anniversary; when they opened in 1989, Old Town Pasadena didn’t even have Cheesecake Factory yet. None of the restaurants that were open in 1989 still exist except for Mi Piace. Armen Shirvanian opened Mi Piace with his mom, and partner and pastry chef Takis Markoutsis. Unlike many others in the industry, Shirvanian did not have a previous background in the food industry. Instead, he went to law school, which was his father’s dream for him. It was never for Shirvanian, though, and he dropped out in 1987 to pursue his actual dream of owning a restaurant. Two years later, Mi Piace opened.
The restaurant was always meant to be a dining and bakery concept, which makes sense given partner Markoutsis’ background as a pastry chef. Markoutsis nowadays spends most of his time at their wholesale bakery, where they make pastries and bread for customers like hotels and Staples Center. Shirvanian, on his part, gets to the restaurant around noon every day and doesn’t leave until 11 pm to midnight on weekdays and 2 am on weekends, working pretty much the same hours over the past thirty years. Their staff is tight-knit, and many in and outside of the kitchen and bakery have been working at Mi Piace for over twenty years. Shirvanian’s own mother worked there from 1989-2012, despite having already technically retired.