Blog: Business might not be booming in Sochi, but hospitality is
Russian baker Vladimir Markarian and CTV National News reporter Genevieve Beauchemin are shown in a shop in Sochi. Business owners says they haven't quite seen the economic bump from the Olympics that they were hoping for.
Published Sunday, February 16, 2014 1:34PM EST
Vladimir Markarian was once a math teacher.
Then as the Soviet Union collapsed, he needed a new job that would put food on his table. He knew that with borders opening up, opening up a local business would be tricky. People would prefer goods from abroad, products they had never had before.
But cakes and pastries, he thought, are always best freshly baked. That launched the idea for his "Laverna", now a chain of bakeries throughout Sochi.
As we visited today, it was clear just how Markarian had managed to turn his business idea into gold. He loves to feed people. He is passionate about sitting at a table with good food and good conversation.
We were there for an interview, but he wouldn't let us leave without a bite to eat.
We sat at a table in a shop adjoining the bakery, fresh bread, stuffed grape leaves, pastries before us. He served us tea, the leaves steeping, those he had handpicked on the mountains in the summer.
We talked about his interest in the Olympics, hockey, Canada and family. He spoke of his business. He stocked up ahead of the Olympics, supposing his sales would go up. After all, the Olympic promise is economic fallout.
He thought cake orders would go up for banquets, and that tourists would fill his shops. It is a bump that didn't come to pass, at least not quite. Business is up only slightly.
But Markarian smiled. His bakery doesn't rely on these two weeks to survive.
He also told us that getting a chance to meet people from elsewhere in the world -- and welcoming us, Canadians, was actually exactly what he had hoped from the Olympics.