After devastating fire, family behind the Inner Sunset's Lavash readies for a comeback

Lavash's dining room before the fire in 2018. | Photos: Courtesy of Lavash
By Alisa Scerrato - Published on November 01, 2019.

After a nearly two-year closure due to a fire, family-owned Persian restaurant Lavash is almost ready to re-open at 511 Irving St. 

Tablehopper first announced the news about the restaurant's return; for more details, we caught up with Kaivon Talai, who helps his parents Saeed and Nazila run the business, along with his younger brothers Kian and Kamron. 

Kaivon said that Lavash should re-open around the second week of November, but he doesn't have an exact date yet.

His parents, Saeed and Nazila, have close ties to the neighborhood, having run businesses there for more than 30 years. Kaivon said that Saeed is often referred to as "the mayor of Irving Street" by his neighbors. 

The Talai family. From left: Kaivon, Saeed, Kian, Nazila and Kamrom.

Saeed and Nazila first came to the United States from Iran in the late '70s. They made a living selling flowers out of buckets at Irving St. and Seventh Ave., which eventually led to opening a flower shop.

In 1990, the couple opened an award-winning taqueria, L'Avenida, in the neighborhood. After it closed, Lavash, their first sit-down restaurant, arrived in 2008.

Specializing in the Talais' native Persian food, Lavash was always filled with fresh flowers, a nod to the couple's roots in the U.S. Kaivon said his parents wanted diners to feel like they were eating at a family member's house.

"My parents created a second home for us, and they invited the neighborhood into our second home, and that's what made it special," he said.

When the fire broke out in January 2018, the Talais didn't even realize it was happening at first; it occurred in the walls, where no one could see it. Thankfully, no one was injured, but the restaurant's interior was destroyed by the efforts firefighters undertook to extinguish the blaze.

For the past two years, the family has been hard at work rebuilding a major portion of the interior from scratch, including a complete remodel of the kitchen. That meant going through the city's inspection process all over again, which Kaivon said was both time-consuming and expensive.

"We put our own blood, sweat and tears into this," he said, crediting his mother, Nazila as the one who keeps the family together and strong.

Lavash's former dining room (left) and family matriarch Nazila Talai (right). 

In the past few weeks, the entire Talai family has returned to Lavash to paint it and get it ready. Kaivon said that dozens of neighbors have been stopping by to ask when they will re-open.

"People just walking by will yell out, 'We can't wait for you to reopen!'" he said. "It's nice to see the support from our neighbors, and we love them."

As far as the menu, it will essentially stay the same, but Kaivon said that there might be some updates and surprises from the kitchen.

Soltani (Persian kebabs). 

Diners can still expect to see favorite dishes like koobideh (skewers of mixed ground beef and lamb), jeweled rice, and fesenjan (chicken with a ground walnut and sour-sweet pomegranate sauce).

Once it reopens, Lavash will start with dinner and delivery service, but the family hopes to soon open for lunch, too.

In the meantime, fans can follow Lavash's progress on Facebook, where Kaivon said people reach out daily to ask when they'll be back. 

About 12 hours ago
San Francisco Cole Valley Upper Haight

Developers host planning meeting for 730 Stanyan affordable housing project this evening

Tonight from 6 to 8 p.m., developers of the 100% affordable housing project slated for construction at 730 Stanyan Street will host a third community meeting for area residents, to answer questions, reveal further information about potential site design, and solicit feedback. Read More

Oct 28, 2020
San Francisco Fisherman's Wharf Russian Hill

Remembering The Mandarin, the Ghirardelli Square mecca of regional Chinese cuisine

San Francisco food icon Cecilia Chiang, proprietor of the legendary Mandarin restaurant, died Wednesday at the age of 100, and with her goes a century of taste memories and a long lifetime of stories spanning two continents and multiple wars. Read More

Oct 27, 2020
San Francisco Civic Center Mid-Market Tenderloin

PianoFight opens new virtual venue to raise funds for its future

The team behind PianoFight is launching a virtual venue this week with a fundraising event that aims to let attendees mingle and interact safely from their own homes. Read More

Oct 27, 2020
San Francisco Castro

Castro CBD announces plan for security camera town hall & online survey

Last week the Castro/Upper Market Community Benefit District (Castro CBD) announced plans to seek immediate community feedback regarding a controversial proposal to install a private network of security cameras. Read More