In a ceremony in Sacramento, Assemblymember Chris Holden honored Vrej Pastry as “Small Business of the Year” for the 41st Assembly District.
Vrej (Frank) and Armig Tomboulian– co-owners of Vrej Pastry, accepted the recognition during the annual Small Business of the Year luncheon organized by the California Small Business Association. Vrej Pastry recently celebrated their 28th anniversary. The company is located at 1074 N. Allen Ave.
“The fabric of Pasadena is made of local small businesses that provide us a glimpse of culture through traditional food,” said Assemblymember Chris Holden. “From Lebanon to Pasadena, the Lebanese and Armenian sweets have a place in my heart. Frank and Armig embody the small business American dream.”
Vrej Tomboulian was born and raised in a small town in Lebanon to a family of bakers. His father owned a well-known bakery where Vrej would spend much of his time after school, helping customers and learning to bake. In his 30’s, he began traveling to and from the US as a tourist. Armig Tomboulian was born and raised in Lebanon as well. After graduating high school, she began working for a jewelry store as a receptionist, often assisting the owners with design
One evening in August 1987, Vrej had returned to Lebanon and visited a neighbor, where Armig would be tutoring. The two met and married after a month. In 1988, the couple moved to San Diego, CA searching for the American Dream. They started a family, having two daughters. Vrej and his brother partnered to open a fast food restaurant, but Vrej wasn’t happy. After many trials and tribulation, Vrej and Armig decided to move to Pasadena, where they found a warm and supportive Armenian community in which they raised their children, and in 1994, opened the doors to their business, Vrej Pastry.
At first, Vrej would do all the baking and designing, while Armig tended to customers. Armig began to pick up some techniques, learning what she could from Vrej, then finding other resources to learn more about cake design. The early years were difficult, but they were blessed. The business began to grow, and additional staff was hired. Customers would come from all parts of California, and eventually, other states. The demand for their desserts were so high, customers would request additional locations.
“We’ve been in business for 28 years and called Pasadena our home. We are so excited to be honored as small business of the year and to continue sharing our Lebanese and Armenian homemade desserts with everyone,” the couple said.