Today we’d like to introduce you to Sol Bashirian.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
In the early 70’s our dad opened his first restaurant. At the time, he was a 25 years old immigrant who had made his way to Los Angeles from the East Coast by way of Iran. He found this spot on Centinela and La Brea which was going to be a Mexican restaurant but the family who purchased it had cold feet and sold the space to our dad. He named the restaurant Ahmady’s (after himself) and served sandwiches, tacos, burgers, you name it.
One day an older Italian man was passing by and told him that he should serve pizzas. Our dad didn’t know how to make pizza but was eager to learn. He spent a week learning from the old man and then never saw him again. But that’s how Jino’s Pizza was born! From there, our dad opened 12 more locations throughout underserved areas of LA with the help of his friends and family. As his kids, we enjoyed making the rounds with him to each one everyday. It was a fun and exciting experience for us being around the hot ovens and all this pizza dough with endless toppings to just go wild with. But as our dad got older, he began selling each store one by one. However, he kept the spot where he opened his first restaurant. At the time, we weren’t even living in LA and we were looking for potential buyers to step in but something told us to hold off.
I had been working in restaurants most of my life either in kitchens or in the front of the house and my sister Ghazi had an amazing sense of customer service and a great eye for decorating through her work in fashion and interior design. It was a no brainer to step in and realize our own dreams and ideas in the place that gave our dad a chance to realize his. I always had a love and appreciation for Italian food through my time growing up in the pizzeria and because of the family pride, appreciation for simplicity, and tradition associated with it. We were in a wonderful and vibrant community that embraced our dad for decades and embodied ideas we stood for so what more could we ask for? Sunday Gravy was born and it’s been an amazing ride thus far.
Has it been a smooth road?
Jino’s closing was a tough pill to swallow for a lot of our loyal customers who grew up eating our pizza. We definitely broke a lot of hearts by shutting it down. Despite our family having a history here for decades, we were very much a new restaurant. We went in with the mindset that we had to win back our community and the best way to do that was through creating a warm, inviting space with wonderful service and no frills, simple, but high-quality food. We didn’t advertise to anyone outside of a 2 mile radius. There were no press releases, no PR teams, or Influencer Collaborations. Sunday Gravy was for Inglewood. Every bit of growth or recognition we got was through word of mouth from people in this very community. New customers would come and say, “Our neighbors dined here and told us we needed to come here!” That was so awesome to us because it meant we were doing things the right way. Building our foundation that way is what I believe is what’s allowed us to handle the current situation with Covid-19 so well. There is a genuine love that our customers show for us and they see us as a big part of this community now and so we get so much support from them everyday. They really want to see us succeed and get through this time. When we do, we are just going to keep getting better for them everyday.
So, as you know, we’re impressed with Sunday Gravy – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
At Sunday Gravy, we serve authentic locally made fresh pasta dishes using wonderful ingredients and prepare them with love and pride. Sunday Gravy is common Upper East Coast slang for red sauce. As the Italian American tradition goes, on Sundays everyone goes to Grandma’s house and on the stove she’s got her red sauce (gravy) that’s been bubbling away all day. The family gathers around the table and that gravy is served on pasta, mopped up with crusty bread, or drizzled on meatballs. There’s no one way to make a Sunday Gravy and every family has their own way. But to us, it’s not even about the sauce. We picked that name because of the beautiful imagery of coming together with friends and family to enjoy a comforting meal. We are Iranian, we didn’t have red sauce and pasta at grandma’s house on Sundays! We had Fesenjan poured over basmati rice. The common denominator is family, friends, and good times and I feel like that spans across all cultures. I’m proud that we have been able to exemplify those wonderful ideas through how we interact with our guests everyday. We are proud that people eat our short rib ragu and it reminds them of their childhood memories with their own grandmas. It’s such an accomplishment for me personally as a cook to be able to stoke memories of the matriarchs of the family.
Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
We absolutely love how supportive the residents of Inglewood are of local businesses. There is a true feeling of love and community that resonates despite how large Inglewood really is. It really feels so close-knit. The biggest gripe I have about the city is that parts of Inglewood can be a real food desert. Citizens here deserve better options than just fast food and big chain markets. We’d love to see more chef-driven restaurants open up with the help of the city. There is so much talent hiding in Inglewood and it would be amazing to see people given more opportunities through grants and friendly loan terms to showcase their talent in their own brick and mortar locations besides always having to rely on food trucks and stands to get their product out. It would be a win for everyone.
- Address: 1122 Centinela Ave.
Inglewood, CA 90302
- Website: www.eatsundaygravy.com
- Phone: 424-227-6500
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: sunday.gravy