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Long-time local restaurant owner Essy Saedi has died

Janet Saedi and Essy Carriage House owner Essy Saedi (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

The long-time former owner of Essy’s Carriage House has died.

Essy Saedi died on Thanksgiving, November 23, at the age of 76. He owned the beloved family-owned Cherrydale restaurant before its closing earlier this year. As he told ARLnow, Saedi was looking forward to traveling in his retirement.

“I’m excited… I get to go to Las Vegas more,” he said.

Saedi immigrated to the United States from Iran in the 1960s and helped open the restaurant Langston Blvd near the corner of N. Quincy Street and Cherry Hill Road in 1975. He took over as full owner a year later, renaming the eatery after himself — Essy’s Carriage House.

In nearly five decades, Saedi’s restaurant became a local staple, serving up steak, liver and comfort food to a loyal customer base. It had the “best crab cakes we’ve ever had. Anywhere,” according to one customer.

Even as he closed in on retirement, Saedi still did much of the prep work at the restaurant, including the sauce-making and meat-braising.

Essy’s Carriage House was known for its white-clothed tables and fresh-cut flowers on each table. Throughout its run, the restaurant served judges, military brass, lawmakers, lawyers, and, even “four-star generals,” according to Saedi. He primarily ran the restaurant with his wife, Janet Saedi, whom he married in the 1980s.

“It’s really been fundamentally the two of us running this place,” Janet told ARLnow in February. “But it’s been beautiful.”

But it was Essy who was the face of the restaurant and a big reason why customers kept coming back for close to five decades.

“I guess I’m just cute,” Essy said earlier this year.

He was known for “his warmth, his story telling, his mixed metaphors and his sometimes inappropriate sense of humor,” his obituary reads. Saedi could be seen on most nights at his restaurant running between tables, chatting with customers, and telling everyone what to order.

Essy had a “quirky sense of humor that some people adore… and there are people who don’t quite get it,” Janet said.

He embraced his quirkiness and was once named “the most colorful character in Arlington” by a local newspaper, notes his obituary. Saedi often called himself the “Luckiest Persian Alive.”

In the weeks before the restaurant was set to close, Essy was still busy at the restaurant and doing what he did best: sharing laughs with customers.

“They’ve become family and friends. We’ve done this for 50 years and we see [many] like once a week,” Essy said in February, taking a long pause. “Maybe I’ll pass them at the grocery store someday.”

Essy Saedi is survived by his wife Janet, daughters Lorena and Tonya, and sister Mehry. The family is planning a private burial and, in lieu of flowers, is asking for donations to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

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