Silva Chamanian was a longtime investor in one of Los Angeles’ most popular Mediterranean restaurants, and had a vision to fulfill a market niche that had not yet been tapped on a national or international scale in the a fast-casual food space. It came together with Bok Bok Chicken, which she opened in August in Southern Nevada. “My oldest son, Marc, said that when I do open it up, I should call it ‘Bok Bok’ because that’s what chickens say,” she said. “It stuck with me and, here we are with the name of our brand, Bok Bok Chicken.”
Tell us about your heritage and how Bok Bok Chicken was conceived.
Bok Bok Chicken
• 7501 W. Lake Mead Blvd, Suite 100, Las Vegas
• 725 S. Green Valley Parkway, Suite 150, Henderson
• 6572 Decatur Blvd., Suite 100, Las Vegas
• 9595 W. Tropicana Ave., Las Vegas
Phone: 702-761-9207, 702-984-0534, 702-527-0955, 702-202-3072
Hours of operation: 10 a.m.–10 p.m. daily
Owned/operated by: Silva Chamanian
In business since: 2018
I was born to Armenian parents in Baghdad. Although we maintain our historic homeland, most Armenians are dispersed around the world, and my parents’ parents had settled there. When I as an early teen, we moved to Canada; then, in my later teens, to the United States. I’ve always stayed connected both to my Armenian roots and heritage, and to my adopted Mediterranean culture.
My life partner of 36 years, Jacob, who is also Armenian and was born in Lebanon, has contributed significantly to the evolution and further refinement of my palate by complementing my approach to cooking with the Armenian/Lebanese influence of flavor and balance. A successful businessman himself, he has been my bedrock and my primary source of guidance over the years in a number of business ventures.
As food is among the most recognizable of any culture’s identity, my roots, coupled with the opportunity to live in two cities that have some of the most amazing restaurants in the world — Toronto and Los Angeles — being passionate about food and becoming a restaurateur was, I guess, my destiny.
What prompted you to launch your business here?
We contemplated launching in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Phoenix, even Washington, D.C., but critical elements always brought us back to Las Vegas. The people in Las Vegas, on par with some of the most sophisticated cities across the globe, appreciate food. The neighborhoods and communities in Las Vegas vary — sometimes between just a few blocks — which presented an opportunity to us to highlight our Mediterranean dishes to a larger cross-section of society seeking to add one more option to their repertoire of foods. The different cultures in Las Vegas make it a special place. These are a few of the reasons we were attracted to Las Vegas.
What are your most popular signature dishes?
When we started to develop our menu, we deliberately set out to focus on a few mains, salads, sides and desserts, rather than attempt to offer dozens upon dozens of menu items that would complicate the dining experience for our patrons.
By doing so, our entire menu becomes signature in nature. Granted, from the time we first launched in August, we have added a handful of appetizers to balance out our overall offerings.
If I were to recommend someone come by for the first time, I would encourage they ask for samples and we would be happy to get them a taste of whatever they desire. For a first-time order, I would recommend cheese boreg with zataar, chicken plate with hummus (which includes rice pilaf, fattoush salad, toom — a garlic sauce — and pita) and an order of ashta for dessert.
Do you have an unusual or secret ingredient you’re willing to share?
There are so many recipes that come to mind. The one at the forefront is fattoush salad. It is one of the most popular Lebanese salads and is standard fare on Lebanese dinner tables in spring. It is a colorful tossed salad full of natural goodness, topped with a lemony-garlic dressing. If you’ve never tasted a Lebanese dish, fattoush is a delicious and healthy introduction.
What is your business philosophy?
Customers appreciate being offered quality food with exceptional flavor in a welcoming environment by staff who genuinely care about their experience. And when we can do that consistently, people will appreciate being cared for, come back for more and tell their friends and family. Further, when we treat our employees like family — not just staff fulfilling the needs of a business, but real people with a purpose and a place in our venture — and offer them higher-than-minimum wage, health benefits and retirement savings accounts, we truly have a recipe for success.
When we care more about our employees’ well-being, and our customers’ experience and their satisfaction, rather than a few additional points on our margin, we can’t lose. We will make up that difference exponentially because we will have developed relationships with our customers based on a mutually beneficial idea — we give our best to our customers, and our customers come back for more. Everyone is happy. It’s that simple.
Are there plans to expand locally, regionally or nationally?
With Las Vegas as our launching pad, we have recently begun to develop the Los Angeles market, identifying four locations that are at different stages of development. It is our intention to expand into other Western cities and states within the next 2-3 years, and to begin to go national beginning in our fourth year of operation.
We are ambitious, but not blindly so. We believe in our brand. We believe in our recipes, our flavors, our quality and the consistency with which we can serve up some of the best food in the valley. We are therefore committed to our brand and confident in what we will achieve in a short period of time.
What is the best part about doing business in Las Vegas and how do you give back to the community?
The best part of doing business in Las Vegas has been working within the communities. From the beginning, it has been our intention not only to be in Las Vegas operating a business, but to truly become a part of its community. To us, giving back is not a lofty concept that sounds good, but that we never get around to doing. It is a reality and something that we seek to do.
We started early on by partnering with Project 150 to help combat homelessness and its effects among Las Vegas youth. We have sponsored youth sports leagues as well as supported the Youth Cancer Baseball Tour. We’ve also contributed to local nonprofits, law enforcement, first responders and teachers, as well as organizations like KNPR for their seasonal fundraising events.
Sure, we’d like to be known for our amazing food, but what would be more amazing to us is to be known for the work that we’re doing within our communities.
What’s the best business advice you’ve received?
Don’t settle for good enough. That has rung true for me for some time. Good enough is for those just looking to get by. At Bok Bok Chicken, we are not looking to get by. We are actively seeking excellence on a daily basis: What can we do better today than we did yesterday?