Before Raffi’s on 5th closed its doors on Sat., Sept. 29, owners of the independently-owned business invited family and longtime friends to a farewell party. A sumptuous buffet and a table filled with wines, liquors and liqueurs provided a showcase of hospitality as invited well-wishers arrived individually, in groups and as families.
“We are touched by the opportunity to have been part of your celebrations for the last 12 years,” Demerdjian said before he suddenly ended up in the hospital the last week that his business was open at Fifth Avenue Station.
“Although our future is uncertain, it is our hope and desire that our family will be welcoming you and your friends to our restaurant again.”
Demerdjian noted the restaurant’s lease was up, and the owner of the building has other plans for that space. The new tenant is expected to have occupancy Oct. 1.
Demerdjian, who resides in Naperville, said he is uncertain if the restaurant will re-open in another location, though many people have been contacting him with ideas for his next venture.
As friends and family bid their good-byes, complete with a decorated cake graced with a message “Until we meet again,” dozens and dozens of well-wishers commented on Facebook, paying tribute to the 12-year-old business.
Janet Sinibaldi pretty much summed up the sentiment expressed by many who will miss Raffi’s hospitality and the menu with Mediterranean, Spanish, Italian and French cuisines—and Raffi’s signature lamb kebabs.
“We’ll miss Raffi’s…the wonderful food, ambiance, the wait staff and most of all the Demerdjian’s…Raffi, Tamara and Dad.” wrote Sinibaldi. “We will always remember you and we wish you all the best. Raffi we missed you tonight but please, please get well and rest.”
While Raffi’s on 5th was Raffi Demerdjian’s first venture, his family has been in the restaurant business for more than 40 years. Raffi’s father is Leon Demerdjian, previous owner of Sayat Nova, located in the heart of Chicago’s Streeterville neighborhood.
During closing festivities Leon Demerdjian, second from left in the photo, surrounded himself with his two daughters and staff that had served the restaurant for as many as 12 years.
Patrons reminisced about Raffi’s generosity in support of fundraising dinners, special Rotary luncheons, community outreach during charitable events such as Soup’s On and Cuisine for a Cause.
For more information about the history of Raffi’s, located in the loft-like industrial space formerly inhabited by a French restaurant named Montparnasse, visit www.raffison5th.com.
As patrons began to leave Raffi’s, the consensus was that it was hard to imagine the impressive space in the old boiler room of a 19th century furniture factory as anything other than a fine restaurant.
Cafe Buonaro’s, the other family-owned restaurant located in Fifth Avenue Station, is known for its Italian menu. For information and hours, visit cafebuonaros.com, open for lunch and dinner, Monday through Saturday.