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Firebird Restaurant Reflects Russian Community

We speak with Svetlana Kumansky, a Russian immigrant and Firebird's owner

The “Iron Curtain” has been replaced with a blue table cloth and the mythological Russian firebird reigns over the in Carmichael.

In Russian stories, the firebird is depicted as a large bird, with glowing, fiery colored plumage, an exotic crest on its head and a large flowing tail. According to Firebird Restaurant owner Svetlana Kumansky the firebird never dies; it hides and then like a “good karma bird,” appears at the most needed moment to bring great happiness and health to people. Kumansky says that in Russian culture, the firebird represents “living happily ever after.” 

It is easy to see why Kumansky chose this symbol to represent her restaurant. Kumansky left the Soviet Union as part of an exodus in 1989 when the “Iron Gate” opened, giving oppressed people a chance to leave. When they left, the former USSR took their proof of citizenship away from them, leaving them without passports, visas, or any other proof of their citizenship. Kumansky ended with others in a refugee camp in Rome. When they learned that the Soviet Union had collapsed, they asked for asylum in the United States because without proof of citizenship, they had no country to call their own. 

Kumanksy moved here March 8, 1990 and eventually graduated from law school.  She practices law in the Russian community.  But she dreamed of opening a restaurant as another way to serve her community. In her experience, many refugees who were oppressed and persecuted in Russia had little opportunity for a good education or good jobs. In Kumansky’s experience, years of oppression can make accepting the freedom of choice and the way of life that America offers difficult for new immigrants to embrace. 

Kumansky’s motto is “Let’s celebrate this life!”  In March 2010, she opened the Firebird Restaurant at 4715 Manzanita Ave., just above Winding Way. The Firebird celebrates the best elements of Russian culture and cuisine influenced by surrounding continents and countries like Asia, Europe, Mongolia and Japan in an environment that encourages both Americans and Russians to enjoy and savor life.

Kumansky envisions the Firebird as a social gathering place with concerts, music and dancing on Saturday nights, presenting fine Russian art performed by local and foreign artists from all of Russia. The bar offers an amazing array of beverages, including the best Russian vodka choices available.  The restaurant also offers a warm, inviting banquet room for private meetings or gatherings. Take a look at the extensive menu on their Web site.

Plans are also in the works to enhance the already tasteful and welcoming décor with more traditional Russian style design elements.  Be sure to check out the elegant firebird mural on the wall between the bar and the banquet room.

But don’t take my word for it, According to an interview in The Sacramento Bee, Darrell Corti, an internationally recognized food and wine expert described his experience dining at the Firebird by quoting French epicure and author (“The Physiology of Taste”) Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1775-1826): “The discovery of a new restaurant confers more happiness on humanity than the discovery of a new star.”  In other words, the Firebird Restaurant serves diners an amazing variety of traditional, authentic dishes along with a generous serving of true hospitality. Celebrate life and try something new, you’ll be glad you did.

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