Enter the cafeteria of Armenia’s National Assembly anytime in the afternoon and you’ll probably see more MPs there than in the parliament’s chambers debating the merits of a piece of legislation.
One feature that stands out is a special table reserved for MPs of the ruling Republican Party. These legislators like to gather round for a collective meal. It’s akin to a traditional feast and what’s only lacking is the music.
Special culinary treatment is reserved for the speaker of the parliament who has meals prepared by special chefs in a separate kitchen.
The cafeteria is operated by an outfit called Ready-Steady. Bakour Melkonyan is the director while the company is registered in the name of his wife Gayaneh Margaryan.
“It’s a family business,” Melkonyan says. “We started it from scratch from our home.”
The couple signed a one year contract to run the cafeteria in June of last year.
Melkonyan is disappointed that the cafeteria isn’t bringing home the bacon and says he’s tried running specials to attract customers; but to no avail.
He says that foot traffic depends on when the parliament is in session, and it turns out that there are more days when nothing is going on in chambers than the contrary.
Melkonyan says that he probably will not seek to renew the work contract after it expires in June.
Ready Steady also operates other eateries at the Central Bank. Viva Cell and ACBA Bank.
Melkonyan confesses that business at these other places is much better.