Zhirayr Avanyan

About Dilijan’s development and optimism concept


People often ask me whether I regret moving to Armenia from the States at all. I don't like regretting, and I never regret anything. I put my trust in fate and I placed my life in its hands. For more than 20 years I have been living in Armenia, of which 8 years in Dilijan, and a year and a half here in my house in “Im Toon”. Yes,  at first I wanted to build a house for myself, but then it all turned into a project of a guest house and a restaurant. I’m living here now and I meet guests every morning.

What can I say about my life in Armenia? I had many business projects in the USA, but I never thought about being useful to the country. Here, everything is different. The social component or concept comes to the fore. This is a more responsible approach. I may have done something wrong in economic and pragmatic terms, but now my life has become more fulfilling. Perhaps the reason for my motivation is not stopping at one project. After all, there is still so much left to do in Armenia.


You know, there's also pragmatism in that: if your business concept is just about making money, then it will have a really short-term effect. Everything is different with social and creative projects. The “Im Toon” project is the least commercial “Dolmama“ project. I intend to set new standards for Dilijan, which are less commercial, more creative, and socially oriented.


You know, Dilijan is now going through a period of rapid development, and we must do our best to ensure that this development goes in the right direction, so that the city does not become just a faceless place like a money magnet. This is a cozy, touristy, friendly, and atmospheric city without any bright high-rise hotels, casinos, and rampant commerce that can ruin everything. We must do our best to preserve the color and style of the city without adding any irrelevant elements.


Though I still tend to believe that Dilijan is safe. The establishments here are very authentic and have their style and concept. I even noticed that residents began to renovate their houses, look for interesting design approaches, paint walls, and create comfort to rent out rooms. And this intertwining of small parts, creating something unique, will take the city to a completely different dimension. Perhaps Dilijan will become the most beautiful representative of Armenia in the world or probably become a separate “planet".


Yes, I am an optimist. At least, I always try to be one, because otherwise there is no point. Just imagine that you are already flying in an airplane, what difference does it make if it crashes or not? You can no longer get out of it, and if it crashes, then everything will end and become meaningless. And since we are all still flying, we must go on, no matter what (this works in life, and even in the country).


Zhirayr Avanyan is the founder of the “Dolmama“ restaurant chain and the owner of Im Toon Dilijan.

P.S. On January 20, 2024, Zhirayr Avanyan passed away.

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