First published in the Jan. 19 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.
By Mia Alva
Outlook Valley Sun
If you walk into Berge’s Sandwiches in La Cañada Flintridge, you will probably see owner Queeny Yeghiaian sitting at a table watching over the shop.
Yeghiaian and her late husband, Berge Yeghiaian, originally opened the shop in 1972 down the street from its current location at 1044 Foothill Blvd. The local favorite celebrated 50 years in 2022, serving up sandwiches, salads and soups. The shop is best known for their tomato basil bisque, pastrami sandwich, and tuna melt, to name a few customer favorites.
Berge’s interior holds its history on its walls, displaying framed pictures of past Rose Parade floats and newspaper clippings. The shop makes you feel warm inside as if you walked into a relative’s house. You know you will be taken care of.
The couple, who are second cousins, thought the idea of starting a business within the LCF community would be a good idea for a semi-retirement plan and to also stay close to home. But when they started, the mom and pop shop was a grocery store until business didn’t add up, and that’s when they started making sandwiches. Berge’s was named after her husband because “his name was lucky,” Queeny Yeghiaian said.
Now, after 50 years, Queeny Yeghiaian and her son, John Yeghiaian, are the only family members left running the business. Her husband passed away 26 years ago, and as hard as it was on her, she kept going on and that’s when her son stepped in to help.
Throughout Berge’s time in LCF, the couple’s daughter and three grandchildren have also stepped in to help keep the business going.
“And if we get stuck and they are around, they come in to help,” said Queeny Yeghiaian.
When the pandemic first hit it was a struggle for the shop, just like it was for other community restaurants, but they were able to hold on. Customers keep coming in and many of them are newcomers rather than the regulars.
“Our customers are like family. They walk in and if they don’t see me, they ask [my son] where I am,” she said.
For many years, customers would only know Queeny Yeghiaian to be the heart of the shop, but now, customers are getting used to her son being there.
The Yeghiaian family has lived in LCF since 1965 and continues a relationship with the city by giving gift certificates to school events to use and feed the drivers for the LCF Tournament of Roses Parade float every year.
As for the future, Queeny Yeghiaian, 88, and her son don’t plan on stepping aside anytime soon. Although the rest of the family doesn’t seem interested in taking over the business in the future because they have “better jobs,” she said someone will be there to care about it.
“Haven’t gotten there yet; we are going to be here a while,” said John Yeghiaian.