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Walnut Creek Magazine

A Tribute to Restaurateur Bahman Tehrani

Jun 20, 2023 02:10PM ● By Pam Kessler

When Bahman Tehrani was 17 years old, he left his native Iran and moved to London, launching a new chapter in his life. By 20, he ventured to New York, where his love for the restaurant industry ignited. Rising from a busboy to an influential culinary figure, Tehrani forged a remarkable entrepreneurial path, working his way up the ladder.

With two Pastas Café eateries under his belt, Tehrani met his wife Laura in the late 1980s. Soon, his restaurant portfolio expanded to seven locations, including the renowned California Grille—an Long Island hotspot. As culinary trends began to shift, the couple made a bold decision to uproot their family and move to California.

Relocating their children—Olivia, Alex, Darius, (and Jordan born later)—to the East Bay, Tehrani unveiled a series of restaurants, including Basil Leaf Café in Danville and Lafayette. "Bahman was among the most creative individuals I've ever met," Laura reflected. "He had a knack for taking a simple idea and enhancing it."

Laura Tehrani at Lettuce Walnut Creek


In California's fertile landscape, Tehrani cultivated his love for seasonal and farm-to-table cuisine. After selling his other restaurants, Tehrani opened Lettuce Restaurant in Walnut Creek where tailor-made salads, soups, sandwiches, pastas, and desserts became his trademark. For over 15 years the restaurant has thrived, defying the odds amid stiff competition, and weathering the pandemic storm.  

"Cooking delectable food was his career, but gardening became his favorite pastime,” said Laura. "Bahman took joy in planting and nurturing growth, a reflection of his Iranian heritage and childhood memories.

After a courageous three-year battle with cancer,Tehrani passed away on April 6, 2023. Next time you visit Lettuce, take a moment to appreciate the fragrant fig and peach trees, a tribute to Bahman Tehrani and his remarkable culinary legacy.


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