Writing Quotes

Alex Tizon Photo

• God made man because he loves stories. —Elie Wiesel

• Lord! When you sell a man a book you don’t sell him just twelve ounces of paper and ink and glue—you sell him a whole new life. Love and friendship and humor and ships at sea by night—there’s all heaven and earth in a book, in a real book I mean. —Christopher Morley

• Man—let me offer you a definition—is the storytelling animal. Wherever he goes he wants to leave behind not a chaotic wake, not an empty space, but the comforting marker buoys and trail signs of stories. He has to keep on making them up. As long as there’s a story, it’s all right. Even in his last moments, it’s said, in the split second of a fatal fall—or when he’s about to drown—he sees, passing rapidly before him, the story of his whole life. —Graham Swift

• We live or die by the artist’s vision, sane or cracked. —John Gardner

• Writing is the geometry of the soul. —Plato

• Creativity is a type of learning process where the teacher and pupil are the same individual. —Arthur Koestler

• Why do writers write? Because it isn’t there. —Thomas Berger

• I wrote because I had to. I couldn’t stop. There wasn’t anything else I could do. —Tennessee Williams

• Clean white paper waiting under a pen is a gift beyond history and hurt and heaven. —John Giardi

• Get black on white. —Guy de Maupassant

• It’s a very excruciating life facing that blank piece of paper every day and having to reach up somewhere into the clouds and bring something down out of them. —Truman Capote

• Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go. —E.L. Doctorow

• It is by sitting down to write every morning that one becomes a writer. —Gerald Brenon

• Ideas must work through the brains and arms of man, or they are no better than dreams. —Ralph Waldo Emerson

• How vain it is to sit down to write, when you have not stood up to live! —Henry David Thoreau

• Planning to write is not writing. Outlining … researching … talking to people about what you’re doing, none of that is writing. Writing is writing. —E.L. Doctorow

• Imagination is stronger than knowledge. Knowledge is limited,  imagination encircles the world. —Albert Einstein

• Visualize this thing you want. See it, feel it, believe in it. Make your mental blueprint and begin. —Robert Collier

• Look in thy heart and write. —Sir Philip Sydney

• We all have the extraordinary coded within us, waiting to be released. —Jean Houston

• Struggle to trust what your unconscious is up to, no matter how bizarre, how forbidden, how complex. —Robert Burdette Sweet

• I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking … What I want, and what I fear. —Joan Didion

• One should never write down or up to people, but out of yourself. —Christopher Isherwood

• A writer is dear and necessary to us only in the measure of which he reveals to us the inner workings of his very soul. —Leo Tolstoy

• Feelings, nothing more than feelings … —Morris Albert (lyricist of “Feelings”)

• Fear cannot be without hope nor hope without fear. —Spinoza

• Whoever is abandoned by hope has also been abandoned by fear; this is the meaning of the word ‘desperate.’ —Schopenhauer

• Write freely and as rapidly as possible and throw the whole thing on paper. Never correct or rewrite until the whole thing is down. —John Steinbeck

• We are our own devils; we drive ourselves out of our Edens. —Goethe

• The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new landscapes but in having new eyes. —Marcel Proust

• The language of truth is simple. —Euripides

• To write simply is as difficult as to be good. —W. Somerset Maugham

• How forcible are right words! —Job 6:25

• A blow with a word strikes deeper than a blow with a sword. —Robert Burton

• If there is a book you want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it. —Toni Morrison

• He that writes to himself writes to an eternal public. That statement only is fit to be made public which you have come at in attempting to satisfy your own curiosity. —Ralph Waldo Emerson

• Close the door. Write with no one looking over shoulder. Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It’s the one and only thing you have to offer. —Barbara Kingsolver

• It is a delicious thing to write, to be no longer yourself but to move in an entire universe of your own creation. Today, for example, as man and woman, both lover and mistress, I rode in a forest on an autumn afternoon under the yellow leaves, and I was also the horses, the leaves, the wind, the words my people uttered, even the red sun that made them almost close their love-drowned eyes. When I brood over these marvelous pleasures I have enjoyed, I would be tempted to offer God a prayer of thanks if I knew he could hear me. Praised may he be for not creating me a cotton merchant, a vaudevillian, or a wit. —Gustave Flaubert

• Words are loaded pistols. —Jean-Paul Sartre

• When I see a paragraph shrinking under my eyes like a strip of bacon in a skillet, I know I’m on the right track. —Peter de Vries

• When we encounter a natural style we are always surprised and delighted, for we thought to see an author and found a man. —Blaise Pascal

• If you would not be forgotten, as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading, or do things worth the writing. —Benjamin Franklin

• On the day when a young writer corrects his first proof sheets, he is as proud as a schoolboy who has just got his first dose of pox. —Charles Baudelaire

• Everywhere I go I’m asked if I think the university stifles writers. My opinion is that they don’t stifle enough of them. —Flannery O’Connor

• I’m all in favor of keeping dangerous weapons out of the hands of fools. Let’s start with typewriters. —Frank Lloyd Wright

• A novel should cater for the fact that life is mostly confusion, that most people’s inner sense is of not knowing, rather than knowing. —Graham Swift

• What happened to the writer is not what matters; what matters is the larger sense that the writer is able to make of what happened. —Vivian Gornick

• Only a mediocre writer is always at his best. —W. Somerset Maugham

• Great novels are always a little more intelligent than their authors. —Milan Kundera

• Who is more real? Homer or Ulysses? Shakespeare or Hamlet? Burroughs or Tarzan?Robert A. Heinlein

• If a writer has to rob his mother he will not hesitate; the Ode on a Grecian Urn is worth any number of old ladies. —William Faulkner

• Bunyan spent a year in prison, Coleridge was a drug addict, Poe was an alcoholic, Marlowe was killed by a man he was trying to stab, Pope took a large sum of money to keep a woman’s name out of a vicious satire and then wrote it so that she could be recognized anyway, Chatterton killed himself, Somerset Maugham was so unhappy in his final years that he longed for death … do you still want to be a writer? —Bennet Cerf

• Everyone who does not need to be a writer, who thinks he can do something else, ought to do something else. —Georges Simenon

• The writer shakes up the familiar scene, and, as if by magic, we see a new meaning in it. —Anaïs Nin

• Writing is the only profession where no one considers you ridiculous if you earn no money. —Jules Renard

• Do we dare be ourselves? That is the question that counts. —Pablo Casals

• There’s no place where success comes before work, except in the dictionary. —Donald Kimball

• Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better. —Samuel Beckett

• Facing it, always facing it, that’s the way to get through. Face it. —Joseph Conrad

• The best way out is always through. —Robert Frost

• You can’t test courage cautiously. —Annie Dillard

• When a man’s fight begins within himself, he is worth something. —Robert Browning

• The good writing of any age has always been the product of someone’s neurosis. —William Styron

• One of the telling signs of genius and creative spirit is to embrace perceived ‘failures’ for the treasures of growth and wisdom they may bring us. —Elle Nicolaï

• It is worth mentioning, for future reference, that the creative power which bubbles so pleasantly in beginning a new book quiets down after a time and one goes on steadily. Doubts creep in. Then one becomes resigned. Determination not to give in and the sense of an impending shape keep one at it more than anything. —Virginia Woolf

• Books are never finished, they are merely abandoned. —Oscar Wilde

• I always know the ending; that’s where I start. —Toni Morrison


Photo credit: Michelle Chavez. Subject: Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Alex Tizon, author of Little Big Man: In Search of My Asian Self.

The Power of Reciprocity


I do not think that skies and meadows are
Moral or that the fixture of a star
Comes of a quiet spirit, or that trees
Have wisdom in their windless silences.
Yet these are things invested in my mood
With constancy, and peace, and fortitude;
That in my troubled season I can cry
Upon the wide composure of the sky,
And envy fields, and wish that I might be
As little daunted as a star or tree.

—John Drinkwater (1882-1937), British poet and dramatist, in a poem titled Reciprocity

Reciprocity refers to a mutual relationship or action whereby something is given or felt between two or more people. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the word as “a situation or relationship in which two people or groups agree to do something similar for each other, to allow each other to have the same rights, etc.” The Oxford Dictionary defines reciprocity as “the practice of exchanging things with others for mutual benefit, especially privileges granted by one country or organization to another. And the Random House Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary defines the word as “the relation or policy in commercial dealings between countries by which corresponding advantages or privileges are granted by each country to the citizens of the other.”

Reciprocity comes from the Latin root “reciprocus,” which means “moving backward and forward.” Indeed, in navigation, the word refers to a course that is 180 degrees to a given a direction, that is, back. As such, reciprocity is at the heart of an age-old moral law of action and reaction called the Golden Rule. For many Americans, the Golden Rule sums up the essence of Christian ethics—the virtue of charity in thought in action. Like reciprocity, the Golden Rule proposes that we do unto others as would be done by us.

An entrepreneur can practice reciprocity simply by showing empathy toward customers or clients. Ask them about their day, their families, their vacations. Be alert to their upcoming anniversaries. And if you know nothing about them—or feel they don’t have the time to talk—smile at them frequently. (Never underestimate the power of a genuine smile.)

Put reciprocity to work with your employees as well. Too often, they feel underappreciated—and crave a pat on the back or a kind word. Treat your employees like humans. They are the face of your company. If you’re mistreating them, chances are they’re treating your customers the same way.

Another way of initiating a reciprocal relationship with employees is to tell them what they need to do to excel at their work to get a raise. As a general rule, every entrepreneur should specifically reward good behavior and punish bad conduct.

It’s important to recognize reciprocity in business because, as the very least, the idea embodies the way civilized people treat each other. Yet reciprocity isn’t necessarily self-evident. Rather, it must be acquired and cultivated—as every patient parent who has instilled the value into a misbehaving child knows.

Reciprocity is so important that it can make or break a business. That’s because without reciprocity, it’s almost impossible for a business, especially a new one, to establish rapport and trust with others, whether they be customers, business partners, suppliers, bankers or financiers. By being honest, helpful and friendly in business dealings—in a word, by being empathetic—an entrepreneur wins people’s trust, which, in turn, boosts his or her credibility.

I’m always surprised how some of the biggest corporations can sometimes be so dumb in practicing reciprocity. Take Taco Bell, which launched the hugely popular Doritos taco in 2012 and is reported to have netted more than $1 billion in sales from that single item. The idea for the dish appears to have come from Todd Mills, an Arkansas dad who started a Facebook campaign in 2009, urging Taco Bell to make a Doritos taco. Mills died in 2013—totally uncompensated for his efforts, if not also his original idea. The strange thing is that Taco Bell reportedly acknowledged the support that Mills gave the corporation. Would a $30,000—or even a $300,000—check to Mills have hurt the company’s bottom line? Of course not—and while Taco Bell executives may well have felt inclined to cut Mills (or his family) a check, you can be sure that some corporate lawyers put a dampener on their generosity.

Generosity—or charity—is the most important ingredient of reciprocity. Let me give you an example. Recently, as we were closing the Zankou store in West Hollywood for the night, two men knocked at the door. It was 11:10 p.m.—we close at 11—and I told the duo that we were done for the night. But they begged to be let in, so I opened the door.

The men were from Iraq—or so they said. I told them we didn’t have much left to eat—just some roasted chicken and a few other items. They ordered a family meal and finished eating by around 11:45 p.m. As they were leaving, I thanked them and asked if they would be kind enough to give us a positive review on Yelp. “That’s the nicest thing you can do for a business these days,” I said. “It means a lot to us.”

To my utter amazement, the customers refused. They didn’t say as much, but their body language suggested that would not write a review. One of the men shrugged at me as if to say, Well, we paid you and we don’t need to do anything extra. I found that disappointing, not least because I thought I had gone out of my way to let the two hungry customers in and give them food.

In effect, I had opened the door to a classic reciprocal deal. But the two men lacked the generosity to reciprocate. I was reminded of a story about Jesus from the Scriptures in which Jesus heals ten sick men. One of them returns to thank Him—nine of the others never come back. In a sense, these were customers of Jesus. And He decided to further reward the one who returned. “Go forth my son—your sins are also forgiven,” Jesus said (or something to that effect).

Here is the full verse:

Luke 17:11-19   New International Version (NIV)

Jesus Heals Ten Men With Leprosy

Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”

When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.

One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.

Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine?  Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”

What does that teach us? To me, it teaches us the value of reciprocity—the sheer wisdom of it. Reciprocity is nothing more or less than the universal law of karma, in which right action is rewarded and wrongdoing punished. We live in a world of never-ending wants and desires. In such a world, it’s hard to remember that giving can be the greatest gift because it’s in giving that we truly receive.


Copyright 2014, Dikran Iskenderian. No version of this blog may be reproduced in any form without the author’s written consent. This blog represents the author’s views only and may not necessarily represent the views of Zankou Chicken, its board, its associates and employees, managers, and customers. Please do not reproduce without permission. Thank You.

Case Study for SWOT Analysis

This is a SWOT study I conducted and wrote for Briggs and Riley, a quality luggage company. Although obviously it is not a restaurant, it’s an excellent example I intend to place as a possible Index section at the back of the book. I would rather have case studies showing brands and chains that are NOT restaurants as well as restaurants to help give readers a better idea of SWOT analysis.   A SWOT analysis is a structured evaluation of internal strengths and weaknesses and external opportunities and threats that can help or hurt a brand.

SWOT is an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.

Briggs and Riley


Starting with the strengths, it’s obvious from testimonials and customer feedback that Briggs has an excellent reputation when it comes to customer service. I have never purchased their luggage or bags and needed to have them fixed, but if these customer testimonials are to be believed, they must be doing a superior job of fixing customer broken luggage and seem to go above and beyond their customers’ expectations.

Customer after customer says that their problem was fixed swiftly and easily. It seems like a lifetime warranty for anyone that buys the product, making an average consumer want to at least purchase one once just to give their service and warranty a spin at it. Peace of mind often sells products these days in an industry ruled by cheap manufacturers in China conducting slave labor with no warranty to speak of. They are also great at innovation. For example, I did not know that they were the first company that created the wheels to drag our luggage around, something that now seems routine throughout the world. Other innovations and points of strength in their luggage and travel bags include: ergonomic hardware, ballistic nylon outer fabric, double zipper pulls to help prevent slippage and breakage, and large upright wheels for their heavy luggage. They have an identifiable target audience. As the text clearly states, you cannot market your product to everyone. You must have a select group of customers, both as business to consumer and also business-to-business. Again, this reminded me a lot of our company, Zankou Chicken and how we have thus far not targeted businesses as much as we do average consumers. There is obviously a lot of room for growth in the businesses to business market both for Zankou and for Briggs. But Briggs does an awesome job of retaining its current customers, as per their testimonials, and gaining new customers by way of targeting travelers that love to work and play in style and with something that lasts a lifetime.


One weakness seems like Briggs does not do a very good job of getting their Brand recognized. For example, when we brought it up first in class, few people recognized it or even knew what it was. Apple, on the other hand, generated something like 95% recognition rate among class members. I had not heard of Briggs before this class. The luggage company I am most familiar with is Samsonite, and more recently I purchase Tumi luggage and backpacks. The cases at Tumi, like their excellence in design and craftsmanship on their hand bags and briefcases, outshines anything Briggs is doing right now. So my recommendation would definitely be to hire new industrial designers and get their game up in that department. Specifically, for myself, I shop at the Tumi at Americana. Not only is it very convenient but I think they are doing a great job of showcasing only their bestselling stuff and they also have friendly and knowledgable staff always ready to assist you. There aren’t too many Briggs centered stores in southern California. Perhaps they can add stores and other satellite locations inside airports? That would be a great strategy for them. Availability It seems as though Briggs is a great American company with a rich history that unfortunately few people really know about. Perhaps they can do a better job of marketing communication and brand awareness. Part of this might entail offering their goods at places where the new consumers congregate more. If they were to make an awesome and reliable hand case for the Mac Books, for example, and sold it at the Apple store, that might be one way of gaining new customers that would later translate into their luggage business. If I am to get a case for my Mac Book Pro and enjoy my newfound relationship with Briggs, I am much more likely to remember the Briggs name next time I think about purchasing travel or business gear. Awareness The Briggs fan page on Facebook is extremely bland and not very interactive. It offers links to the company web site, which kind of misses the point entirely.

When we are on Facebook we often wish to simply interact with the brand. We want to talk to other people that travel or maybe wish to get a laptop and see what kind of case they will purchase. We want to play with the brand, observe it, look at the pictures and turn them around, share them with friends, and look into the different style options and accessories. Perhaps we want some information about the warranty because our Briggs bag just got damaged? That information should be available right there so people won’t have to go through hoops and their web site to find it. We want a simple click away from their home site and to begin shopping right away. The company may wish to spend some money on a good web site and social media design firm  to help them out with their Facebook page and get some serious ideas on how to make it better and more fun to use. They need to increase its “ stickiness”.


One level of outside opportunities I see is American Express. As a company we have dealt with American express and they are very rigid about their policies and prices. For example, they refused to allow us to reduce their charge price from 3.5% to about 2% (which is what VISA and MasterCard charge). They were unwavering on this. The reason is simple. They are giving more value to their customers. When you call VISA or Mastercard you should prepare to talk to some robots and stay on hold anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes by the time you find a human being on the other line. With American express, they may charge more, but the wait time is dramatically reduced to a few minutes and sometimes merely seconds. American Express offers travel insurance on all purchases made with their cards, and the value goes up depending on which AMEX card is used. Briggs has an excellent opportunity here to target AMEX customers because we know AMEX customers are upwardly mobile individuals that love to travel, spend, and often do so at a cost that brings greater service to them. I am not sure if Briggs ever puts small ads in the AMEX invoices we receive, but I have never seen one. Another opportunity is the newer regulations in place because of terrorism related threats. Briggs travel size bags should be advertised as allowing you to maximize space and possibly avoid bringing the huger bags altogether. Briggs can capitalize on the time saved by passengers every year by offering these bags and informing customers of the newest regulations in terms of what is allowed and not allowed on board domestic flights (liquids and sizes …etc) and making it easier for their customers to remain within all the new regulations and make their travel time less hassle.


In my mind the greatest outside threat to a luggage company is the current world situation.

Terrorism is rampant in Pakistan, Russia, the Koreas, eastern Europe, and much of the middle east. The current revolutions taking place in Turkey, Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan, Syria, Iraq and many other Arab countries is cause for alarm. Not only will this situation harm travel and tourism in Egypt and its surrounding countries (Israel, Lebanon…etc) but it may have a global impact on Briggs and Riley and other travel related companies such as the airline and airport industries. So the threat is that world-wide protests, revolutions, and general upheaval may impact the entire global tourism industry. I know this firsthand because I planned a trip to Lebanon this year, the summer of 2014, and I never went due to the constant threats and bad news arising from that part of the world. 3 different car bombs and attacks have already occurred in Lebanon, and the ISIS threat in Iraq has gotten much worse as well as the Israeli-Palestianian situation recently exploding in July. It is very difficult to turn this outside influence, which is beyond our control, into an opportunity.

Of course Briggs is not a peacemaker, nor does it have any capability to control world events that may impact negatively the travel industry. However Briggs can certainly be creative and do something such as use their awesome customer service line to aid possible stranded customers with any available information …etc. This will have a lasting, positive effect in the minds of their customers. Another idea I have is the possible use and creation of extra durable, steel coated luggage. This may seem awkward, however it may create in the mind of the consumer safety and durability in times of great stress and anxiety and may be a huge blockbuster .

Exponential Growth

It is not enough to receive support, no matter, how needed it may be. It is fundamental to know how to receive this support and ensure that its result is exponential. Kay Rala Xanana Gusmao


Is it possible for Zankou to have some kind of concept like Panda Express or Chipotle where customers walk by and just choose whatever they like in an “upscaled” cafeteria-style line?, I was thinking about this over the weekend. I came to the conclusion that it would one day become totally possible, but we would have to change some of our style and presentation in order to make it work. We often discuss the 4P’s of marketing in our team. I do much of the marketing, so for me that is the most important goal, however read on to hear about the others.

We discuss the 4 P’s of marketing as that being product, price, place, and promotion. All are equally important in our business. The idea I had for the new business was to do something like a “Zankou Express”. This would be something similar to what Panda Inn did in Glendale. They opened a “Panda Express” store in Glendale Galleria in the 1980’s and went from a small family business to an empire that stretches various cities, over 1,200 stores, and over $1 billion in annual revenue. That’s an amazing achievement, and I believe that Zankou Chicken, as a brand, can achieve similar achievements and become a powerful brand, with hundreds of stores, thousands of employees, and also gross over $1 billion per year. How will we go from having 8 stores to becoming a national giant? Teamwork, imagination, and effective and goal-centered marketing can propel a business to grow exponentially instead of gradually.

The real secret to exponential growth is teamwork  because without a powerful team, nothing meaningful or powerful ever gets accomplished. Even Christ used 12 people to change the whole world. Teams are important because the ideas and effort of one person only goes so far. I find that in our business, for example, I push hard and achieve much certain weeks, and some days I am completely exhausted and achieve very little. Those are the days I appreciate my brothers, my mother, our managers, our employees, our distributors, and all of the other people that make Zankou Chicken the business it is today. People often look from the outside and expect that a success is churning out cash. They often fail to realize that all of the time it is human beings and our energy, optimism and teamwork that make all of this possible. Albert Einstein said that imagination is more important than knowledge. When I was a kid I was not sure what he meant by that, but growing older it’s easy to realize the important of imagination on our jobs, our lives, and on the power of imagination to grow a business. Just as Einstein must have been bored with old formulas and came up with new ones (E=MC 2…) , we must set aside some time off our day to be able to stop and think about new ideas and change in our business. Powerful companies like Apple can pay people to do this, but it may be in the best interest of a small business owner to set aside time and do this routinely.

I find that some of the best ideas I’ve had come from just sitting at the restaurant, doing nothing, just watching the customers. This is more than mere mediation as I often observe what they are doing, how they are interacting with the menu, where they are seated…etc. I often approach many customers and talk to them about how we can do better, what new items (if any) they would like to see added. In the last 3 years alone we have added 8 entirely new items and two side dishes simply from talking to customers and getting feedback.

In class at UCLA we’ve often talked about a certain “disconnect” that can happen when customers watch a commercial and that does not meet their expectations of the product in real life. This is one reason why I prefer word-of-mouth and genuine feedback to paid commercials. But we also talked about how paid commercials, when done well, can have a viral impact on your business. A commercial that is funny, radical enough to be noticeable, and offers something of value to the consumer besides simply being in their face, are the one that shines through. A strong brand is one that

  • Instills trust
  • Stimulates Retail (in measurable numbers)
  • Commands Higher Prices
  • Creates Differentiation
  • Inspires Loyalty

A brand’s position is where it stands relative to the competition in the minds of others. Zankou Chicken customers know, for example, that we use organic eggplants to make our mutabbal every morning. They know our bread is baked fresh from the factory in Santa Ana. They know we only use California made and grown garlic. They know these things because we have stated them on the paper menus as well as our web site. Can we do a better job of educating our customers about the health benefits of our products? I am sure we can. One issue at stake right now is the stating of calories and fat content within our foods. The recent bill president Obama signed orders all restaurants with 20 or more national chains to post calorie and fat content in their products. We have less than 20 stores so we may legally avoid this law, however it may be in our best interest to start our research and actually prepare a separate menu detailing the calories and fat content of all our products. One way we could reduce the possible negative impact of such a move could be to state each item in a plate as a separate entity. For example, a beef shawerma plate consists of vegetables (tomatoes, onions, beets, chilies,), tahini sauce (a sauce made with sesame seed, salt, oil, and garlic), hummus (a paste made with Garbanzo beans), and the meat itself (USDA Choice or higher quality…etc). I am sure not every person finishes this entire meal. We have never done the complete fat content and calorie analysis at a lab for this item, but I am guessing that if we do, this meal would likely be above 1,000 calories. But by knowing each separate item contents, consumers can make a better choice about what to include and what to replace (we give them the option of replacing tahini for rice as an example). It may be a more informed choice.

Powerful Brands must be consistent. I posted a recent article on our Ning that illustrates what can happen when a brand is not consistent. Due to previous family issues, not all Zankou Chicken are run by us. The article that was listed, http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-zankou18-2010mar18,0,573630.story

points to the fact that not all Zankou’s seem to be the same. This does have a detrimental impact on our branding. How to solve this problem? IMC policies seem to point to doing all things at the same time, so we would have to change something, implement it quickly, and advertise it efficiently. We are working with a company called Dreamentia to come up with ideas on changing our brand so as to not cause customer confusion. We run and operate 8 of the restaurants in various cities, and my aunt and cousin operate 3 stores in Hollywood, Tarzana, and Montobello. As we learned, brands are difficult to build and maintain but easy to destroy. We are aiming to change the name up a bit. Instead of having it just be “Zankou Chicken”, with this new strategy we would have it be “ Zankou Chicken: Fresh Mediterranean Grill.” Underneath the signage we could have something that reads” Shawerma, Falafel, Shish Kabob.” I don’t know if this would be too much information, and I’m sure Dreamentia can help with some of the details and design, but I believe this would both help consumers realize what we offer and also help us distinguish ourselves from our cousins’ and aunts’ stores. Eventually, the ideal situation would be one where we get some investors and buy them out completely, because I agree with the text and the class notes that say a brand must be consistent and should not differ in the eyes of the people.

The 4 C’s of marketing consists of:

  • Customers
  • Competitors
  • Company
  • Community


While I would say we are mostly a customer-focused organization, all of these elements are equally important if one is to succeed in the marketplace. Our organization must simultaneously meet and exceed customers expectations, keep competitors at bay, maintain a strong company value and ethics system, and foster a deep relationship within the community it serves. A lot of this is easier said than done, however in time some of these processes have become easier with experience and with a gradual evolution of getting better at certain things. For example, we have developed a system where if someone wants a donation, we don’t just give food or money away for nothing like we used to a few years ago. We ask that the group pay for 50% of the order by cash or credit a few days in advance, that they provide a letter of donation with their tax-exempt federal ID number, and that they help us market by distributing our menus at the charitable event, which we help cater. This happened over time, as we realized how to better serve people that make such requests without having to lose money outright. The program works rather well, as we will be making a sizeable donation to a local high school this weekend from our Pasadena location. Can we do a better job of letting people know about this program? Yes we can because the web site does not list this program right now, and few people are even aware that it exists. Only those that ask via email would find out we are doing this. The fear is that if we publicize it too much, we may end up getting too many requests and our stores may be overwhelmed, but I am sure there is a smart way of doing it.

If I were to create a product for launch, an item that we do not currently sell, my product of choice would be a baked potato wedge. I say baked and not fried because we are a restaurant that prides itself on health and freshness. Often we get asked for “garlic fries” as well, but baked wedges would go great with our wraps, and we currently do not have any combination item on our menu. Years ago, customers would plead with us to add rice to the menu, and 2 years ago we did. Right now steamed basmati rice is one of our top selling side dishes. They also demanded tubule salad, which is salad made using parsley, tomatoes, onions, lemon and oil. This also sells well, however none of these items make for a solid combo item. Up selling is huge in our industry, and some garlic-infused, marinated and baked potato wedges fits perfectly with our other dishes. We could even offer it to every customer.I imagine the interaction to go something like this:


“Hello how are you and welcome to Zankou Chicken”.

“ Hi I’d like 2 Tarna wraps and 1 falafel wrap please, no tomatoes on the Tarna wraps.”

“Sure, would you like potato wedges (insert trademark name for this future item) to go with that? You can save a dollar if you do the wedges and a drink.”


Up selling is huge in our business because profit margins are low on our food items. The drinks have the highest profit margin, anywhere from 80-95% depending on who you ask. I estimate ours to be in the 90-95%. Food items are extremely costly. We use USDA choice or better-cut steak for our meat, and fresh American chicken for our poultry that comes directly from the farm. The profit margin on these items is slim, anywhere from 15%-25% depending on the item. The reason we up sell is to add to the profit margin, and I believe this to be a great fit with the rest of the menu.


Regarding the change of name, I believe the addiction of the description certainly helps. Often, people driving by do not notice us right now because it just says “ Zankou Chicken”. What if someone wants to have beef and not chicken? What if they are craving falafel and are vegetarian, or they want to have a barbecue kebob selection for their family? I believe the signage we have right now is woefully inadequate.


There are good things and bad things about working in a family business. On the positive side, you are all blood related and the team has to work together no matter what. Family business stay close and often succeed, but sometimes stress and time get in the way and family business break apart. On the negative side, family-run business are often closed-minded and immune or other not perceptive to outside influences and people. The opinions of others are often not respected, even if this person is a professional with a merited background. The “family knows best” theory, which is never tested nor proven, goes unabated and unchallenged for years, sometimes decades. It is difficult to put a needle to the inside circle of a family and make this bubble pop, exposing the business to new ideas and new directions. Another negative feature of working in a family business is sometimes people are taken for granted. Because so much family is involved, sometimes people forget to respect each other during the day because of stress or pressure. While it may be difficult to be rude or insensitive to a teacher or classmates or other executives, people within a family business are often rude to each other and take each other for granted.

Social Media

We talked a lot in class about social media (at UCLA Extension where I took these classes and hope to soon create and teach a restaurant marketing class catered around the book I am writing, which will be based on this blog) and its effect on our businesses and on IMC strategy.    I helped develop a fan page on Facebook for Zankou Chicken as well as a group page. I advertise for it every month with a small budget allocated particularly for social media. In addition to this, the official web site contains a link that takes people directly to our Facebook fan page. After speaking to Dreamentia and some other marketing professionals, I came to realize that our social media advertising was woefully inadequate. One thing that was mentioned and that we talked about in class was, social media marketing is a do or die type of strategy. A company has to be willing to go all in; or they should probably not be advertising online at all. For example Spinkles cupcakes, based in Beverly Hills with a few other locations, declares a new word on their Facebook group page every morning. The first 200 customers that mention this secret word get a free cupcake with their order every day. Needless to say their Facebook page is very popular. Because ours is a family business, it may be difficult to convince everyone to try something like this, but it might be very powerful viral marketing.

Our Facebook page has close to 800 members while our fan site has over 1,000 fans. Spinkles Cupcakes is approaching 119,000 fans. Needless to say, they are doing a much better job of advertising on Facebook, even though they supposedly do not spend any money on advertising. It is this type of genuine viral marketing that works. This is marketing based on a high return of investment, and not one based on spending thousands of dollars and doing television commercials just to get your name out. The same applies to Twitter and Myspace, although we did talk about the declining power of Myspace and how they have done a poor job of catching up to Facebook and other social media sites like Twitter and even Yelp that have leaped by miles while Myspace has retreated heavily and lost million in the last 2 years. A good social media strategy is one where you would:

1) Offer contests, insights, and exclusive events

2) Is continuously promoted both online and offline by ads and placement (posters or placards at restaurant, on written menus, on web site….etc)

3) Monitored for SPAM’

4) Allow users to speak and be heard; even if it is negative (as long as it’s not vehemently poisonous or personal).

5) Linked to the various web sites (official web site, Twitter account, etc)

6) Promotes other media (for example your magazine ad should point to your site, your TV ad should point people to your Twitter account, etc)

7) Be a focused and powerful strategy rather than an afterthought (this is where we are today in my organization).


Different Avenues of Marketing

Last but not least we discussed different avenues of marketing. Television, the internet, billboards, and direct marketing all have their positive and negatives. The pro IMC marketer will target his or her audiences carefully and choose the advertising that shows measurable results. I would target all of the avenues simultanouesly and measure which is best, and move forward on that note.

In retrospect I learned the most from this class not from the text (although Selling the Wheel did start off very powerfully with the professional salesman character but got a bit boring toward the end), but from fellow classmates and a lot of the lectures. The Sup bowl ads were among my favorite, as were the introductions the new and exciting web sites like foursquare and many concepts I was not familiar with,. I truly appreciated it and made some new friends along the way. I look forward to implementing some of these specific ideas in the near future. ’s of marketing are product, price, place, and promotion. All are equally important in our business. The idea I have for the new business is to do something like a “Zankou Express”. This would be something similar to what Panda Inn did in Glendale. They opened a “Panda Express” store in Glendale Galleria in the 1980’s and went from a small family business to an empire that stretches various cities, over 1,200 stores, and over $1 billion in annual revenue. That’s an amazing achievement, and I believe that Zankou Chicken, as a brand, can achieve similar achievements and become a powerful brand, with hundreds of stores, thousands of employees, and also gross over $1 billion per year. How will we go from having 8 stores to becoming a national giant? Teamwork, imagination, and effective and goal-centered marketing can propel a business to grow exponentially instead of gradually.

The real secret to exponential growth is teamwork because without a powerful team, nothing meaningful or powerful ever gets accomplished. Even Christ used 12 people to change the whole world. Teams are important because the ideas and effort of one person only goes so far. I find that in our business, for example, I push hard and achieve much certain weeks, and some days I am completely exhausted and achieve very little. Those are the days I appreciate my brothers, my mother, our managers, our employees, our distributors, and all of the other people that make Zankou Chicken the business it is today. People often look from the outside and expect that a success is churning out cash. They often fail to realize that all of the time it is human beings and our energy, optimism and teamwork that make all of this possible. Albert Einstein said that imagination is more important than knowledge. When I was a kid I was not sure what he meant by that, but growing older it’s easy to realize the important of imagination on our jobs, our lives, and on the power of imagination to grow a business. Just as Einstein must have been bored with old formulas and came up with new ones (E=MC 2…) , we must set aside some time off our day to be able to stop and think about new ideas and change in our business. Powerful companies like Apple can pay people to do this, but it may be in the best interest of a small business owner to set aside time and do this routinely.

I find that some of the best ideas I’ve had come from just sitting at the restaurant, doing nothing, just watching the customers. This is more than mere mediation as I often observe what they are doing, how they are interacting with the menu, where they are seated…etc. I often approach many customers and talk to them about how we can do better, what new items (if any) they would like to see added. In the last 3 years alone we have added 8 entirely new items and 2 side dishes simply from talking to customers and getting feedback.

God willing, we’ll have a “Zankou Express” one day where customers can get our food they love so much just as fresh as it is today but only faster? Perhaps we can cook the chicken and kabob in the back and just keep bringing it forward much like Chipotle and Panda express do now. Only time will tell. Do customers even want that? What do you think?


Why Branding Involved Every Aspect of the Customer Experience


Photo credit: Dikran Iskenderian’s shot of Zankou Chicken in Burbank

1001 North San fernando Blvd, Burbank CA. July 2014

Good Branding should involved every aspect of the customer experience. From the minute they walk in they should smell delicious, roasting chickens. They should start to salivate as they smell that rich garlic sauce, or the sizzling kabobs that are constantly  turning on the grill. They should hear the fizzle of the fat being burned of the shawerma on the spit. They should be greeted with smiles from the cashiers, who instantly recognize them. “Hello Mr. and Mrs Smith, welcome to Zankou Chicken! How can we help you?” From the moment the customer walks in to when they leave, they should feel comfortable, welcomed, and even to a certain degree enchanted. They should be able to connect to the brand from a number of different places later as well, including social media, if they wish.

Now, is the customer service experience always like this? No, but as owners and managers it’s our job to make sure that it should be. As much as humanly possible. Because the customer is the most important part of this business. Every aspect of the experience should be catered to them. The smell, look of the place (has to be clean and bright), the music, and the ambience should all match your brand. Imagine a great BBQ ribs place but they play jazz. That doesn’t make sense. It should all match. We should play Mediterranean  music for example, since that matches our brand. Not loud hip hop music or dance music (which have their place at clubs and bars), nothing against that music because I love that music too. However, some question wether or not the customer is king.

Within the business community and in places of higher learning across this great country and all over the world, there is a debate about what is more important to a business: Is it the customer, with whom everything should start and end? Or is it the employee?

The two arguments are best understood by reflecting on a deceptively simple question: What make an organization survive—and then thrive—through the years? Is it an organization that’s customer-centric or one that’s employee-centric? Many organizations often start by being employee-centric. That’s understandable—and wise. An organization should always start with the team, assembling the right talent and right people in order to make the organization tick. There’s nothing wrong with that.

But the question at the heart of this chapter is not an open-ended one in which both sides can be right. If we were forced to choose, I would say that without a doubt the customer is more important. And in most cases, where you have to make a decision about choosing between customer and employee it might be wise to put the customer first. In most cases your business will be served best by living with the philosophy that customer is King.

I speak from personal experience. It is through the customer that we made so many beneficial changes to our business. We succeeded because we listened to the customer. The tabouleh that we serve was inspired by customer feedback. So was the rice, the kabob items, and the lavash (during the time we served it). Almost every good idea we’ve had originated from customer feedback.

None of that is to say that employees and managers can’t or don’t come up with great ideas. One of our former operations managers proposed the “falafel special,” a combo that comes with two pieces of falafel as a side—a terrific upsell for each customer that ordered a wrap. In the mid-1990s, a Starbucks employee came up with the idea for their now world-famous Frappuccinos. His name is Greg Rogers and he was an assistant manager at the Starbucks store on the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica. It’s interesting to note that Rogers’s idea was initially shot down by Howard Schultz, the founder and then-CEO of Starbucks. Schultz’s opposition was based on two reasons that are nothing short of laughable in hindsight: The first reason was that Starbucks had just brokered a deal with Coca-Cola to introduce a coffee-cola drink (the very idea was evidently a complete bust). And second, Schultz didn’t want blenders in Starbucks stores because he believed they went against the company’s coffee culture.

We’ve all heard the phrase about how the customer is always right. But is he—or she—always right? There are always exceptions to every rule, and in this case it must be said that if your customer is being rude to your employees, you should kick the customer out. There are situations in which your employees always need to be defended.

I myself once kicked out a customer from our Glendale store. Okay, I take that back: I didn’t kick her out—I asked her to leave because she was being extremely rude to my employees. And just to press home the point that such rudeness would not be tolerated, I refunded her money for two chickens she had bought—and then took back the chickens instead of letting her have them, as I think she was expecting. As a parting shot, I told her that if she didn’t like her food she should patronize the El Pollo Loco store down the street.

However, at the end of the day if we don’t have customers, we can’t pay our employees. That is why I believe that while the mission statement and values statement of an organization can contain great things about the associates of a business, the essential message should always be customer-centric. You can’t have it both ways.

Here’s what a few like-minded world-class thinkers have said about this issue:

There is only one valid definition of business purpose: to create a customer. (Peter Drucker, management guru).

There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else. (Sam Walton, founder of Walmart).

It is not the employer who pays the wages. Employers only handle the money. It is the customer who pays the wages. (Henry Ford)

There’s a remarkable story about Teddy Roosevelt, the 26th president of the United States, that shines the perfect light on how employees should be treated—even when they appear to have the best interests of the organization at heart.

As the story goes, Roosevelt worked as a rancher before he joined politics, and one day he was riding over the range with one of his cowpunchers who lassoed a two-year-old steer that had never been branded. Roosevelt and his cowhand lit a fire and began heating their branding irons.

As it happened, the part of the range where they were was claimed by one of Roosevelt’s neighbors, a rancher by the name of Gregory Lang. Because the steer was found on Lang’s land, it belonged to him, according to the rule among cattlemen.

As the cowhand applied the brand to the maverick, Roosevelt stopped him. “Wait,” the would-be president said. “It should be Lang’s brand—a thistle.”

The cowboy was taken aback. “That’s alright, boss,” he countered, continuing to brand the steer. “But you’re putting on my brand,” Roosevelt said. “That’s right,” said the cowboy. “I always put on the boss’s brand.”

“Drop that iron,” Roosevelt said. “And get back to the ranch and get out.”

The cowboy protested, but Roosevelt told him that he had no place for such people on his ranch. His final words to the employee were: “A man who will steal for me will steal from me.”

Quotes on the importance of Branding

“Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room” – Jeff Bezos, Founder of Amazon
“All of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.” – Tom Peters in Fast Company
“Your premium brand had better be delivering something special, or it’s not going to get the business.” – Warren Buffett, Investor and philanthropist
“Personal branding is about managing your name — even if you don’t own a business — in a world of misinformation,

disinformation, and semi-permanent Google records. Going on a date? Chances are that your “blind” date has Googled your name. Going to a job interview? Ditto.” – Tim Ferriss, Author of the 4-Hour Work Week
“Branding demands commitment; commitment to continual re-invention; striking chords with people to stir their emotions; and commitment to imagination. It is easy to be cynical about such things, much harder to be successful.” – Sir Richard Branson, CEO Virgin
“It’s important to build a personal brand because it’s the only thing you’re going to have. Your reputation online, and in the new business world is pretty much the game, so you’ve got to be a good person. You can’t hide anything, and more importantly, you’ve got to be out there at some level.” – Gary Vaynerchuk, Author of Crush it!
“If I lost control of the business I’d lose myself–or at least the ability to be myself. Owning myself is a way to be myself.” – Oprah Winfrey, Television mogul
“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” – George Bernhard Shaw, Author
“Too many people overvalue what they are not and undervalue what they are.” – Malcolm Forbes, Publisher
“Be Yourself, Everyone Else is Already Taken”. – Oscar Wilde, Author and Playwright

Branding is not merely about differentiating products; it is about striking emotional chords with consumers. It is about cultivating identity, attachment, and trust to inspire customer loyalty. Chinese brands score low on attributes such as ‘sophisticated,’ ‘desirable,’ ‘innovative,’ ‘friendly,’ and ‘trustworthy.’

Nirmalya Kumar

As a brand marketer, I’m a big believer in ‘branding the customer experience,’ not just selling the service.

John Sculley

Think about what people are doing on Facebook today. They’re keeping up with their friends and family, but they’re also building an image and identity for themselves, which in a sense is their brand. They’re connecting with the audience that they want to connect to. It’s almost a disadvantage if you’re not on it now.
Mark Zuckerberg

You have to think of your brand as a kind of myth. A myth is a compelling story that is archetypal, if you know the teachings of Carl Jung. It has to have emotional content and all the themes of a great story: mystery, magic, adventure, intrigue, conflicts, contradiction, paradox.
Deepak Chopra

A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.
Jeff Bezos

Great companies that build an enduring brand have an emotional relationship with customers that has no barrier. And that emotional relationship is on the most important characteristic, which is trust.
Howard Schultz

Your premium brand had better be delivering something special, or it’s not going to get the business.
Warren Buffett

I think our slow, humble beginnings in surf shops, ski shops, bike shops, and motorcycle shops have been extremely important for our success. GoPro is all about celebrating an active lifestyle and sharing that with other people. It’s authentic. It’s not a brand that we went out and bought a bunch of ads for to create.
Nick Woodman

No one is going to understand your brand better than you.
Alexander Wang

My greatest strength is common sense. I’m really a standard brand – like Campbell’s tomato soup or Baker’s chocolate.
Katharine Hepburn

For a truly effective social campaign, a brand needs to embrace the first principles of marketing, which involves brand definition and consistent storytelling.  Simon Mainwaring

You now have to decide what ‘image’ you want for your brand. Image means personality. Products, like people, have personalities, and they can make or break them in the market place.  David Ogilvy

If you ever have the good fortune to create a great advertising campaign, you will soon see another agency steal it. This is irritating, but don’t let it worry you; nobody has ever built a brand by imitating somebody else’s advertising.
David Ogilvy

The Chicken or the Egg?

Which Came First—Chicken or Garlic?

This chapter’s title is my own eccentric take on the familiar, ancient question, “What came first, the chicken or the egg?” By the way, I’m convinced it was the chicken that came first, not least because I believe God made everything, and therefore had no need to create an egg. (Even if God did make the egg, there were no chickens back then walking around in the Garden of Eden to sit around on the egg and hatch it into a lovely chick.)

Now that we’ve established the primacy of the chicken, let’s fast forward several millennia to Beirut, capital of Lebanon and part of a historic region called the Fertile Crescent, which stretched from the northern edge of the Syrian Desert to the Nile Valley and where much of human history was made. It was there, in a tiny storefront devoid of tables and chairs—not even a cash register—that Zankou Chicken was born in 1962.

Named after a river in Armenia, Zankou (pronounced Zaan-koo) was located on a street corner in Lebanon’s Little Armenia neighborhood in a neighborhood called Bourch Hamoud. “Bourj” is the Arabic word for “bridge,” and although the background of the neighborhood’s name was strictly architectural—apparently that part of town had some famous and well-made bridges and roadways—over the years the first Zankou store would serve as a link between the cradle of civilization and the mecca of capitalism that is America.

Zankou was born two years after the formation of the Beatles, widely regarded as the world’s greatest rock band, and precisely two years after the boys from Liverpool took the United States by storm. And just as the Beatles were arguably imploring the world to love them in their first hit single, Love Me Do, my family began the process of making a hit combination that would soon become almost as famous as the Beatles. (It’s a funny little fact, given that we once had the Fab Four hanging on the wall of our Glendale store.) In hindsight, I think what we were trying to do was challenge our customers to fall in love with a single competitor who had a better chicken recipe.

It was my grandma who came up with the recipe for the garlic sauce. She never went to Le Cordon Bleu or any other cooking school. She just had a God-given talent for cooking and making amazing recipes from scratch. To me, that’s a little bit like the artistic greats of history.

As a huge art buff and an artist myself, I greatly admire the masterpieces of Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo. The greatest artists and cooks in history didn’t go to school—the world was their school. They worked meticulously on their craft every single day no matter where they are. That was my grandma. She would cook and spice from morning till night, every single day, for more than 70 years. She would cook when we were at my cousin’s house, she would cook at our house, she would roll sarma and dolma for customers in Hollywood and then she would cook for our family. She was an amazing chef.

And that brings me to the second component of this chapter—garlic. One of the most an ancient of foods, garlic (Allium sativa) is an essential ingredient in every major cuisine in the world. Who hasn’t marveled at the aroma of this condiment as it’s being sautéed in the frying pan or baked whole in the oven. Indeed, of all the vegetables that compliment chicken, perhaps none is as wonderful as garlic. At Zankou, we serve a special garlic sauce meant to be eaten side by side along with our rotisserie chicken. The idea is to make the chicken both tasty and digestible, a practice that underscores a vital principle of premodern cuisine: To be well assimilated, foods must stimulate the digestive juices through the pleasure of eating.

The Chinese word for garlic, suan, is represented by a single character, signifying that the condiment was widely used from the beginning of the evolution of the language. And not just as a food. Garlic was used from antiquity to treat animal bites, especially snake bites. Soldiers in World War I were said to apply garlic to treat their wounds. And what’s more, garlic also has a legendary reputation in scaring away vampires—although this supernatural power sounds less reassuring in light of the fact that vampires may be attracted rather than repelled by garlic’s anticoagulant properties.

What’s certain is that garlic has the power to destroy a lot more than vampires and evil spirits. After all, not for nothing is it the world’s most commonly used condiment. Although an odorless plant, it has more flavor and aroma than just about any other plant, including onions. It is pungent and earthy, yet subtle and delicate.

Only in recent years has the scientific community realized garlic’s healthful properties, especially its role in flushing out carcinogenic substances from the body. Garlic contains phytochemical compounds that have proven anticancer properties, particularly in the prevention of cancers of the stomach, esophagus, prostrate, colon and breast. Garlic is especially effective in protecting against cancers caused by a class of chemicals known as nitrosamines, a powerful carcinogen that interacts with the body’s DNA and is formed in the intestine from nitrites, a class of food additives used as preservatives in meat products such as sausages, bacon and ham as well as pickled foods and cured meats. Garlic prevents the formation of nitrosamines by reducing the risk of cancer-causing genetic mutations.

Researchers have studied least 20 compounds derived from garlic and have found them to possess anticancer properties. Of these compounds, two—diallyl sulfide (DAS) and diallyl disulfide (DADS)—are fat-soluble and considered to be the principal compounds in garlic that play a role in preventing cancer. In fact, DAS has been shown to even defuse the development of lung cancers caused by an exceedingly toxic nitrosamine called NNK, which results from the ingestion of nicotine while smoking tobacco.

But to fully harness garlic’s anticancer properties, the condiment must be consumed shortly after it is freshly crushed or chopped. That’s because anticancer molecules in allicin, the strong-smelling ingredient that gives garlic its pungent odor, are strongest when the condiment is crushed, chopped or chewed.

In the very beginning at Zankou, we didn’t even have garlic sauce. In fact, we sold raw chickens along with cooked ones for the first decade or so. Over time, customers fell in love with our garlic sauce. And that raises the question: What makes garlic taste so great with chicken? Maybe the answer lies in the fact that both foods are powerfully healthy for the body when combined. After all, chicken is one of the best forms of animal protein—and what could be a more palatable way of eating it than with garlic. Or maybe it’s that chicken is a bit dry all by itself, and that creamy garlic sauce gives the meat that special, zesty kick required to render it as palatable as healthy. Perhaps it’s just the power and amazing taste of the raw garlic itself, and the chicken is just the vehicle with which the garlic must travel into our mouths. Sometimes our body craves that powerful garlic sauce because of its healing, nurturing and antiseptic properties.

At the end of the day, what wins all of us over is the taste. That amazing, fresh taste of the crispy skin on the chicken. The aroma of the chicken being cooked for hours in the oven, and that remarkable aftertaste that has the effect of leaving us hungrier with every bite.

Suffice to say that the taste of garlic and chicken stick with you. Your friends may avoid you because you smell of garlic, but in the end it’s your garlic-infused immune system that you’ll thank when everybody but you keeps falling ill.


You can never have enough garlic. With enough garlic, you can eat The New York Times.
Morley Safer

The Restaurant Marketing Expert blog

Hello all.

This is the first blog post for The Restaurant Marketing Expert ™ .

My name is Dikran Iskenderian and for those of you who don’t know me I am one of the co-owners and family member of the Zankou Chicken brand of family-run restaurants here in southern California.

I will be launching my book in 2016 and be speaking publicly sooner (in early 2015), so this post is the launch of that aspect of what I wish to be doing in the near future and more broadly speaking, in terms of my book I will post here periodically. This is a great opportunity with quality people to be able to connect with me. I want to tell everyone I love meeting interesting, exciting, positive, and emphatically driven people. It inspires me. And I certainly hope to inspire you with my speaking and book very soon. The reason why I plan on speaking before my book comes out is to both meet lots of friendly people that share common interests as me in this field and to gauge the public’s appetite for the subject matter I intend to write about. Speaking publicly on it will help me know which chapters to focus on and what parts to keep short.

And life itself is short, and sometimes money is not enough to keep us happy. That connection we all crave and how we can positively impact each others’ lives is very important to me.

So let us start with a simple question I pose to you, the reader. What kind of topics would you like to hear about through my speaking or as a possible chapter in my book? Since I have owned and operated restaurants for over 25 years now and helped lead the charge of such a beloved and recognized brand such as Zankou, I can honestly say your feedback has always made a difference to me and changed the course of how I market what I do. I will also post a few things about Zankou and how we do things and get feedback about that as well. I will give insider tips on how to market your restaurant effectively. All that I ask is that you not open a chicken restaurant across the street from us with all the information you take from here.

I look forward to hearing from you. I will reply to everyone.

Thanks again and welcome to the beginning chapter of this new story.