It’s rare to find a chef who specializes in several different cuisines—but that’s exactly what Mike Hashemi, co-owner and executive chef of Arya, is.
Mike, who opened Arya on Theater Way with his wife, Fera Hashemi, just this week, has lived a very “global” life, growing up in Iran, and then spending many years in both Italy and southern California.
It’s that global life that he brings to his restaurant, Arya. The restaurant specializes in all three cuisines—Italian, Persian and American—and does all three well, he says.
However, no matter what, he said, “It’s not fusion. If you come here and order Persian, you’re very much getting Persian food. If you order Italian or American, well, that’s what you’re going to get. It’s not fusion.”
Mike said the idea for a restaurant that serves all three cuisines came to him when he was in southern California in the late ‘80s and ‘90s. There, Mike owned separate restaurants of each kind—a Persian restaurant, a Florence-inspired Italian restaurant, and an American steakhouse.
The result, he said, was that his friends were always having to choose which restaurant to go to when they wanted to eat his food.
“I would see all my friends, each going to a different restaurant,” he said.
Therefore, when Mike and Fera first moved to the Silicon Valley and saw what a melting pot of different cultures and cuisines it was, the idea for Arya came to him.
“I said, why don’t I put all three of my restaurants into one?” he said.
In September of 2007, Mike and Fera opened . Mike said, being right next to companies like Apple, Hewlett-Packard and Symantec, the restaurant does great business for lunch on weekdays.
To beef up their dinner business, they had a stage and dance floor put in, and started showcasing Persian singers, belly dancers, Italian musicians and jazz artists on Friday and Saturday nights—an offering they plan to continue at their new Redwood City location. They kicked this off with a special grand opening performance by renowned Italian artist Pasquale Esposito on Saturday.
Arya in Cupertino soon became a south bay hotspot. Fans of the restaurant on Yelp consistently give the restaurant four to five stars, and Mike and Fera have racked up an impressive list of accolades in their first four years in business, such as inclusion in KRON-TV’s “Best of the Bay” series, the Concierge Award of Excellence, “Business of the Year” by the Asian Business Council, and “Top 10” status on OpenTable.com.
“Arya is a great place, [with] consistently great food,” said Yelp reviewer Nina V. of Santa Clara, about the Cupertino location. “Every time I come here I am in love with their food, [and they have] great music and belly dancers on Friday and Saturday nights.”
Arya also offers catering in partnership with the Fairmont Hotel in San Jose, and can host private banquets and parties. A semi-private section of the new Redwood City restaurant can host up to 30 people for buffet or plated meals, and the Cupertino restaurant can hold even larger groups.
Mike said, eventually, the plan will be for him to split his time between the Cupertino restaurant and their new Redwood City location, but for now, he will be focused on Redwood City for a while.
“I have very strong people over there [in Cupertino] running things, so I can be focused on the new restaurant for a while,” he said.
Mike said he loves working with his wife Fera, and they make the perfect team.
“I run the kitchen, and she runs the front,” he said with a smile, describing how hard Fera works to manage the “business side” of things.
Arya Global Cuisine is located at 885 Middlefield Road (Theater Way) in Redwood City and at 19930 Stevens Creek Blvd. in Cupertino. Visit www.aryarestaurant.com.
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