John Yacoubian says goodbye to Bosses


John Yacoubian

John Yacoubian captures one of his last moments as the owner of his restaurant Bosses. “… I enjoyed every second of it. It was a fantastic experience, and it was great getting to get to know everybody… It was great gaining that experience,” Yacoubian said.

The sweetness, the spiciness, the zestiness with each order. The familiar yellow walls, a basketball game playing in the background. Pictures of students hanging on the walls. Bosses is a place White Station students know all too well, but had to say goodbye to in March 2020 after it’s unforeseen closure. In spring 2010, Bosses was born. The Yacoubians owned a nearby jewelry store and donut shop when John Yacoubian, an older son of the Yacoubian family, decided to take on the project of making his very own restaurant out of the donut shop. His first of many decisions was choosing the name of his restaurant to shine in bright red neon letters above the storefront. 

“My younger Brother came up with the name. We were discussing all the different possibilities, and I really liked Memphis Chicken Academy, but it was too long for a sign… and my younger brother came in, and in a spelling bee style he said: ‘Bosses, B-O-S-S-E-S, Bosses,’ and he just said it so confidently… the name stuck.”  

Through the years, Bosses grew to be a popular restaurant with Memphians, specifically White Station students. Its close proximity to  campus led to a unique connection between Yacoubian, his White Station employees and his customers through their shared love of music and sports, specifically basketball. 

“We were supporting the basketball team just a little bit when we started and we became one of the sponsors for one or two years, when the basketball team was highly ranked.” Yacoubian said. “I still have connections with those guys. I talked to Deval Robby probably every week or two. Chris Gioso is a friend of mine, and Andre Hollins is like family…”

Yacoubian’s first teenage employees were White Station students. Throughout the years, more students worked there, establishing a connection to both White Station students and Yacoubian. Michael Rotz, an alumni, worked there from Oct.2019 up until its closing. Although he enjoyed the food  and was thankful for the environment, he also recognized the difficulty of being a Bosses employee.

“It was my third job, but I think it was my favorite one. It was difficult… it would be constant work above the friers… I would have to carry these 45-pound things, two of them each in my hands, down a 50 yard [long] ally and dump them…” 

Yacoubian’s Bosses was one of the first restaurants in Tennessee to close in the wake of coronavirus concerns.

“…Knowing about how serious the issue was and how easily communicable it was, I started thinking about what would happen if it came over here, and so I didn’t want to take anything lightly,” Yacoubian said. “I didn’t want to get any of my employees to get sick, I didn’t want any of my customers to get sick…”

Yacoubian disclosed his departure with Bosses  October 3 on Instagram. Some were heartbroken, some were angry and some were confused. Yacoubian, on the other hand, felt it was time for him to go. For his restaurant to be as successful as it was, it took long, hard hours to make it happen. He decided it was time to start focusing on other parts of his life.

“I feel like the time was right for me to switch career paths,” Yacoubian said. “I loved doing the restaurant, and it’ll always be a part of me, but I’m more focused right now on having a family…I would like to spend more time at home, get home earlier, take care of my future family and the rest of my family,  it’s more of a family decision than anything else.” 

Many students were devastated over Yacobian leaving Bosses; they identified with the restaurant, finding comfort and happiness while spending time there.

 “Bosses is just really fun and welcoming, especially seeing all the pictures on the walls of past White Station kids. I just really feel at home there, like it’s right for me to be there,” Gordon Brode said.  

Yacoubian realized that even though he felt that it was time to move on from Bosses, he had gained a learning experience unique to any other. He learned how to communicate, lead and most importantly, connect.

“It’s bittersweet. And it’s like when you graduate highschool, you feel like you’re going to miss certain things about it, but you’re gonna have those memories too. And you know that the next step is going to be something better than what came before. The important thing to me is you use your experience, you Utilize the things you’ve learned. So that in a way you’re  keeping that with you all the time. You’re not leaving it behind, you’re picking it up and putting in your backpack and you’re taking it with you for the rest of your life.”