MONTCLAIR, NJ - In a private room located at the rear of Trend Coffee and Tea House sat the President of Macedonia, Gjorge Ivanov, on Sunday evening. Ivanov's 45-minute visit was a pleasant highlight to owner Dimitry Banjanski's career as a restaurateur.
The meeting space was filled with 25 people, including Ivanov's security team. Ivanov had been in New York for the week for the United Nations Summit and had a little extra time in his schedule to visit.
Officially called the Republic of Macedonia, Wikipedia describes it as a country located in the central Balkan peninsula in Southeast Europe. In 1991, it declared independence from the former Yugoslavia and became a member of the United Nations in 1993.
Bordered by Kosovo to the northwest, Serbia to the north, Bulgaria to the east, Greece to the south, and Albania to the west, Macedonia has 2.11 million inhabitants according to Wikipedia.
Since President Ivanov is a fan of jazz, he arranged to visit Banjanski's restaurant, which has live jazz performances several times a week. Although Banjanski's best man works for Ivanov, Banjanski had also become friends with Ivanov's son, Ivan. Banjanski, a native of Macedonia, became friends with Ivanov's son through their love of music.
Sharing the common connections, this was Banjanski's first meeting with Ivanov. The two men immediately hit it off since they both share a love of jazz music. "Our real connection is through the music," said Banjanski. "We mostly spoke about music. He is a big collector of Jazz music. His passion is jazz music and he knows the history and about artists like Charlie Parker..."
Both Ivanov and Banjanski dined together with their wives while listening to performers, Bruce Tyler (drums), Denise Hamilton (vocals), James Gibbs (trumpet) and Greg Woods (piano).
Banjanski said that he had plenty to discuss with the president, including the differences between living in Macedonia and the U.S. and jazz music. "He asked me what I thought of living in America. I told him that it is a land of opportunity and it is open for everyone to try new ideas." Banjanski has lived in the U.S. for over a decade.
"We made American food for him to eat. We wanted to be original and have him taste the American food." Chef Zarko Avramovski prepared the food. He is currently chef at Riverside Manor in Fair Lawn.
Banjanski, who also plays guitar, played for Ivanov before he left. "The last song we performed before he left was Summertime." Ivanov's son plans to visit Trend in the near future to play with Banjanski.
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