Zankou Chicken is a small, family-owned chain of Armenian and Middle-Eastern fast casual restaurants within the Los Angeles area. Its specialty is rotisserie chicken served with a garlic paste and pita bread. Additionally, Zankou serves other Middle-Eastern favorites such as hummus, falafel, and shawarma.
The chain was established within the United States in 1983 by his son, Mardiros Iskenderian, after the family immigrated to Los Angeles, California. After considering opening a dry cleaning business or selling mens suits, Iskenderian recognized a lack of restaurants catering to the growing Middle Eastern immigrant population in Los Angeles. The first restaurant in Los Angeles is still located in Hollywood, California at the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Normandie Avenue. The restaurant's famous garlic sauce was created by Vartkes' wife, Markrid.
In 1991 the family agreed to divide the business when Mardiros wanted to open additional restaurants. The new restaurants would be owned by Mardiros, while the original Sunset & Normandie store would be owned by his parents and two sisters. Vartkes Iskenderian died in 1992.
The chain has expanded to 9 restaurants in the greater Los Angeles area; the second Zankou Chicken opened in Glendale (2 locations), followed by Van Nuys, Anaheim, Pasadena, Burbank, and West Los Angeles, as well as a branch in Montebello opened by the same part of the family that still owns the original Hollywood branch.
January 2003 murder 
On January 14, 2003, after a heated argument, Zankou Chicken owner Mardiros Iskenderian shot and killed his sister, Dzovig Marjik, and his mother Margarit Iskenderian; he then took his own life in a double-murder suicide. It is believed that Mardiros was in the late stages of colon and brain cancer, which might have affected his mental faculties.
Trademark dispute 
In the California Court of Appeal case Iskenderian v. Iskenderian, Mardiros Iskenderian's widow Rita unsuccessfully sought to attain sole control of the Zankou Chicken trademark. The Hollywood and Montebello restaurants operate under the control of Dzovig's son Vartkes Marjik, his brother, and Dzovig's sister Haygan Iskenderian.
In popular culture 
- In January 2008, Adam Carolla ranted on The Adam Carolla Show about the Van Nuys location of Zankou Chicken, where the woman working at the time had refused to give him his usual order (a half chicken, half beef shawarma plate) since it wasn't on the menu.
- Arax, Mark (April 2008). "The Zankou Chicken Murders". Los Angeles Magazine. pp. 124–129, 202–206
- Satzman, Darrell (March 18, 2010). "Zankou Chicken's tragic family rift impedes chain's growth". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-03-18.
- Iskenderian v. Iskenderian, 144 Cal. App. 4th 1162 (2006)
- "LA EXAMINER: JANUARY 12, 2003 - JANUARY 18, 2003 ARCHIVES". Archived from the original on 2006-02-21.
- Blankstein, Andrew; Michael Krikorian (January 16, 2003). "Restaurant Family's Tragedy: Cancer and stress may be why the operator of Zankou Chicken killed his sister and mother.". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-03-18.