With a masters degree in fashion, Russian-born Londoner Liana Kazaryan had never imagined she would end up working with food, let alone become the Founder and Brand Director of superfood restaurant Avobar. Yet here she is, with two restaurant venues in London and Hong Kong.
Following a series of pop-ups, Avobar opened its first location in London before making its Hong Kong debut in 2019 in Tsim Sha Tsui’s K11 Musea. The concept, as I’m sure you’ve guessed, is dedicated to the fruit fuelling a multibillion dollar industry: the avocado and offers an all-avocado menu. Having expanded from one food capital to another, Avobar is the health-conscious food business that also gets the popularity vote. Ahead, we catch up with Kazaryan to find out how she achieved that and how she plans to sustain it.
Name: Liana Kazaryan
Profession: Founder and Brand Director of Avobar
Industry: Food and beverage
Start up since: 2018
Tell us about Avobar.
Avobar is an all day superfood restaurant with a menu inspired by the ultimate superfood — the avocado! We are bringing vibrancy to healthy eating with our creative and nutritious dishes.
What’s behind the name?
The name reflects the ‘mono ingredient’ concept of the avocado bar, where each dish contains the hero ingredient in some way.
Tell me about your best and worst day at work?
Best days are those that flow. Guests are happy, the team is at their best, ideas click and everything seems to be working in synergy.
There are no worst days as long as we’re moving forward. I accept all challenges as a natural part of the process.
What do you do when you’re not at work?
Eat some more! I love travelling; making time for friends and loved ones is important to me; and I try to squeeze in some ‘me’ time which sometimes means working out, other times listening to a fascinating podcast about anything from wellness to neuroscience, or getting lost in something creative that I’m into at that moment.
Looking back now, what would you have done differently?
I would go back to every time I ignored my intuition and followed it.
What is a normal work day like for you?
A normal day in London starts and finishes with communication with Hong Kong. I try to reserve the earliest and latest hours of the day for all the emails, phone calls and questions for Avobar in Hong Kong. The middle section varies day-to-day, which is what I love about my work: it is rarely monotonous.
What advice would you give to someone looking to start up?
I always say: it starts with self-awareness. Are you driven and passionate enough to be married to your project? If so, the rest is figure-out-able.
What would you be doing if you weren’t doing what you do now?
I would still have a start up, perhaps to do with fashion or property in an innovative way.
As a child, what did you aspire to be?
I fluctuated between a fashion designer and a dancer.
What has been your biggest hurdle? How did you overcome it?
I have quite an empathetic nature, so learning that letting go of the people that do not fit or aren’t fully onboard with the company’s vision and values sooner rather than later is beneficial for both parties, took a minute.
How hands-on are you?
As the founder and brand director, I am involved in every aspect of Avobar operations. At the same time, I trust and give space to my team towards decision-making.
Why is Hong Kong an important market for you and Avobar?
Hong Kong is notorious for its food scene and it is indeed incredibly vibrant, so it was always an exciting prospect to enter this market. People here are open and enthusiastic about new and original ideas and we feel lucky to have been welcomed so warmly.
If you were to invest in another start up, which would it be?
Whatever offers to help people in an innovative way.
How do you define success? Do you consider yourself successful?
A sense of purpose and fulfilment is certainly a part of the definition of success for me. Feeling like you came out from the process a changed person, as well as having contributed to other people’s lives in any positive way is also a part of the definition. Every day feels different, but I do consider myself successful when I check in with my definition of success.
What are your goals for 2020? And in the near future?
2020 has already revealed itself as the year for adaptation and flexibility. We are taking this onboard and diversifying into creative projects at Avobar that I am very excited to share when the time is right. A collaboration with a well-known and well-loved brand close to (Hong Kong) home is coming in the summer.