Smith Brothers Restaurants
HomeCommunity NewsAndy Lippman: A Heartfelt Salute to Dads

Andy Lippman: A Heartfelt Salute to Dads

Father’s Day is coming Sunday, June 16, and what better way for a dad to honor his firstborn child than to name his watch and jewelry store after her.
That’s what Jean Boujekian did when he opened Vana’s Watch and Jewelry in South Pasadena in 2006.
Of course, Boujekian laughed that he couldn’t name the store after his wife because her name was already in use.
His wife’s name is Tiffany.
Vana’s, located at 1401 Mission St., puts food on the table and a roof over the heads of the Boujekian family — his wife, three daughters, and his mother and father who live on their property in Altadena.
It’s also the continuation of a family tradition. His uncle was a watchmaker and his mother was a jeweler. He only has to look around the dining room table to see his role model.
“My father is the best man ever,” Boujekian told me. “He’s an educator and a wise man.
“I always want to be like my dad — a kind, gentle man.”
And that’s the way his wife sees him. Tiffany and Jean will be celebrating 18 years of marriage next month alongside their three children: Vana, 17, Sosse, 14, and Sarin, 11.
Jean came to America from Lebanon when he was 14 and has been in business in South Pasadena — first on Fair Oaks Avenue and now on Mission Street. The family also ran a jewelry store for five years in Old Town Pasadena.
Tiffany is the daughter of Vietnamese parents who fled their homeland in the late 1970s.
“You want to put a crown on his head,” Tiffany told me when I visited the couple at their shop last weekend. “He’s the king of the house with a good heart.
“He’s truly a man of the house who takes care of everyone. He needs to know that everyone is comfortable, and if they are not, he will try and resolve it.
“He’s the first to jump out of his chair and give a helping hand.”
His daughter Vana recently got back from a school trip to Jean’s family ancestral home in Armenia.
Jean has never been there, but he and his wife put together the money for a deposit so she could make the trip.
“I always wanted kids, and I’ve worked hard to give them amenities we both didn’t have,” Jean said. “Life is no longer about you. It’s about the children. It’s about the idea that giving is much better than receiving.”
Jean went even further, saying that having children for him is the best thing that can happen in his life.
“It puts a smile on my face every day,” he said. “The big things I get is when they achieve something that makes you really proud. It’s like seeing a part of you growing up.
“The small things I get as a father are the hugs, the smiles and the appreciation.”
I asked Jean’s girls to offer their thoughts on their dad.
“I love my dad immensely because of his unwavering dedication and hard work,” Vana said in an email. “He embodies resilience and determination, tackling every challenge with a steadfast spirit that inspires me daily.
“Despite the hurdles he faces, he always puts his family first, sacrificing his own comforts to ensure our happiness and well-being.
“His guidance, wisdom and unconditional love make him not only a hardworking individual, but also an extraordinary father whose presence in my life I cherish beyond measure.”
Vana works in the store on weekends, repairing watchbands, replacing batteries and acting as a salesperson for the store’s selection of new and vintage watches and jewelry.
“When I faced challenges at school or in my personal life, my dad is always there to offer a listening ear and wise advice,” said 14-year-old Sosse. “We admire his patience and dedication in preparing us for adulthood.
“During times of sadness, anxiety or confusion, my dad has offered comfort and reassurance, showing empathy and understanding. While always being there for support, my dad has encouraged us to think for ourselves and make our own decisions — fostering independence and self-confidence.”
Tiffany, who works in the store four-to-five days a week, told me that her children definitely appreciate their parents.
“Our children see what kind of dads their friends have and they come home and compare them to their dad and they share stories about what they see in other homes,” Tiffany said.
She said that both she and her husband try to discuss things around the dinner table, both to try and resolve issues and also to talk about events of the day.
“Whether it is through family vacations, game nights or simple moments spent together, my dad has created cherished memories that we will always hold close to our hearts,” Sasse said.
But being a dad has had its bumps in the road.
Jean remembered when the family found out Vana was allergic to walnuts when she was an infant. The parents had to rush her to Huntington Hospital with her tongue swollen.
Now that Vana is dating and driving, he worries about the occasional minor accident and making sure she gets home by her curfew time.
“Girls are a lot easier — until they start dating,” he laughed. “Now, they stress me out. I guess it’s the curse of having pretty girls.”
I know, from talking to them during the pandemic, how having to close the shop poured stress on the entire family. These were trying times for a man who was the principal provider for an extended family of five. Tiffany told me she would sometimes hear him tossing in bed, and she would go out of the room and cry so he wouldn’t hear her. Some days, Jean would go into the closed store, just to feel himself in familiar surroundings.
Tiffany said that Father’s Day serves as a time to celebrate two special occasions since Jean’s birthday is around the same time.
For Jean, being a dad is a present that he enjoys all year.
“Father’s Day is a time to appreciate the gifts that life gives you,” he concluded.
It’s been hard to pass the Father’s Day card rack this year since my dad died only a few months ago. I am thinking of him and I am cherishing the gifts that he gave to me. I know that those of you that have lost their dad in the past year probably feel the same way.
Happy Father’s Day to all the dads around town.

Photos courtesy Boujekian family
Jean and Tiffany Boujekian in their store

First published in the June 7 print issue of the South Pasadena Review.

Most Popular

[bsa_pro_ad_space id=3]