Popular Lebanese eatery Zankou Chicken coming to Long Beach

Zankou Chicken is coming to Long Beach in early 2023, the company announced Saturday.

The Long Beach Zankou will be located at the corner of Lakewood Boulevard and Willow Street, near Starbucks, the company posted on Instagram.

A company representative didn’t immediately respond to request for comment, but the Long Beach location will open “hopefully” in January or February 2023, the company said in its Instagram post.

 

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Though the chain has less than 20 locations in Southern California, it’s extremely popular and famous–so much so that Beck mentioned Zankou Chicken in his song “Debra.”

The restaurant sells wraps, kabobs and Tri-Tip Shawarma, but is best known for its rotisserie chicken, which the late food critic Jonathan Gold once called “golden, crisp-skinned and juicy, with developed chicken flavor, the kind of bird that makes you want to scour the carcass for stray bits of carbonized skin and delicious scraps of flesh.”

Though their chicken is delicious unadorned, Zankou also makes a tangy garlic sauce that customers have raved about since the Armenian couple Vartkes and Markrid Iskenderian first opened the original Zankou Chicken restaurant in Beirut in 1962.

Eventually the Lebanese civil war became too much for the family, and in 1984 they re-opened Zankou on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The Iskenderian family has also been gripped in its own civil war since Vartkes died in 1992, according to the Times. In 2003, Mardiros Isekenderian—Vartkes and Markrid’s eldest son— shot and killed his mother, sister Dzovig Marjik and himself.

Today, the Zankou chain is actually two chains with competing websites and social media accounts, run by different factions of the Iskenderian family.

The larger faction, run by Mardiros’ wife Rita, operates 12 locations throughout Southern California and is opening the Long Beach location. A note on this Zankou chain’s website asks customers to “please visit one of the locations under our ownership and control” because the company is not responsible for the management and operation of Zankou locations “that are not listed on this website.”

The other Zankou faction is run by the children of Dzovig Marjik and operates three locations, with a fourth opening soon in Thousand Oaks, according to its website.

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Anthony Pignataro is an investigative reporter and editor for the Long Beach Post. He has close to three decades of experience in journalism leading numerous investigations and long-form journalism projects for the OC Weekly and other publications. He joined the Post in May 2021.
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