El Che Lives On in Yerevan

Two nights ago with a few friends who just arrived from Boston, one of them being the extremely talented contemporary music composer Ara Sarkissian, I stumbled upon a cozy bar off Sayat Nova Street across from the Opera House. The place is called Pub Che and has been open for less than two months.

Pub Che is dedicated to Che Guevara, the legendary Marxist revolutionary turned cultural symbol of the pursuit of social justice in modern times. Three of the plywood walls are covered with Che memorabilia—reproductions of photos, posters, even toy Kalashnikov rifles and sawed-off shotguns. The full bar also offers unsurprisingly considering its namesake several offerings of cigars form Cuba and Central America.

It is a “typical bar” in a sense that it really is a comfortable place where you can sit on a stool and be served by a bartender who knows what he is doing. Usually bars in Yerevan are in reality lounges with bartenders nowhere in sight absent of user-friendly spaces where people can just enjoy a drink and socialize with others around them. There are some exceptions of course but they usually close after a year or two despite their popularity for whatever reason the owners have. This place is tiny but very comfortable; aside from the bar stools there are only three circular polyurethane-lacquered plywood tables. The place has a great atmosphere and the music selection is eclectic, but thankfully no modern pop music is played. He also has printed corny jokes lining one of the walls, all featuring Armenians as the subject of parody, but they’re fairly humorous. It is an exceptional place to hide out for a short while. I happened to stop by there last night as well.

The soft-spoken proprietor, Shahan, moved here from Beirut, Lebanon about a year and a half ago, I am assuming just before or perhaps shortly after the month-long war that was raged by Israel when many Armenians escaped to Armenia. I didn’t get into specifics with him because I did not want to stress him out but anyway, he’s here to stay it seems, at least for however long he can manage to endure the always unpredictable eccentricities of life in Armenia. At least now occasions will arise when I can speak Western Armenian, which regrettably has been getting rusty.


Anonymous said…
I briefly stopped by when the owner was still working on the bar and it hadn't opened yet. It looked like it was going to be a nice place. I haven't been back since, but it seems like maybe I should.
Anonymous said…
I loved this place , I spent one evening there thanks to my Lebanese-armenian friends ... there was Tom Jones playing all night long :D Very friendly people . I can't wait to get back to Yerevan.
Anonymous said…
Do you have to leave your AK-47's at the door???/
Anonymous said…
not if u are lebanese anonymous ;) :D
Anonymous said…
I was passing by and decided to stop to have a drink. Am glad I did. It was early in the afternoon so I was the only one. But still the atmosphere was very cosy and welcoming. Will make sure to come there again with friends.

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