Loving couples, neighborly women and solid old people with hats and sticks slowly strolling along the main Golovin Avenue. A city that was totally different in spirit from other cities…
Laghidze Waters was opened on Rustaveli Avenue (former Golovin) in 1905, a remarkable place which became a symbol of 20th century poetic Tbilisi…
The name of the lemonade was already internationally acclaimed and the product was awarded the status of non-material cultural monument. Maka Tavamaishvili, the director of Waters Ltd and wife of Vakhtang Laghidze, the grandson of Mitropane Laghidze – the founder of Laghidze Waters, tells us about the life and heritage of Mitropane Laghidze:
About Mitropane and Laghidze Waters…
The history of this remarkable Georgian lemonade dates back to the 19th century. Born in Cholevi, near Kutaisi, in 1869, at the age of 14, Mitropane Laghidze started to work in a pharmacy, before moving to the Ivanovsk Lemonade manufactory and learning the method of making fruit waters. After the death of Ivanovsk, Laghidze took over as head of manufacturing in 1887. He was the first to use different varieties of fruit to prepare non-alcoholic drinks, having worked out a special method to make fruit syrups. Laghidze was introduced to new technology for lemonade making in Paris in 1902 and brought the special equipment fot the Kutaisi factory: machines making artificial ice. On the suggestion of famous poet Akaki Tsereteli and with support from poet and public figure Ilia Chavchavadze, Laghidze built a factory for non-alcoholic drink production in 1900 and after 6 years , opened the Laghidze Waters locale on Rustaveli Avenue.
What can you tell us about the kindness and charity of Mitropane Laghidze?
Mitropane Laghidze was an extraordinary person, more focused on establishing the Georgian lemonade than on his financial welfare. He was a great Maecenas,member of literacy and dramaturgy associations, and made efforts to help writers, poets, actors, scientists, musicians, artists, and students. He was also a strong supporter of the national culture and both his factories, in Tbilisi and Kutaisi, served the promotion and protection of Georgian culture. Mitropane Laghidze founded a publishing friendship in Kutaisi to support Georgian writers and publish books. Many publications came out of this initiative, among them an anniversary volume of prominent Georgian poet Akaki Tsereteli, dedicated to his 50-year jubilee. In personal letters, Laghidze sharply criticized the incoherent lifestyle of society of the time, and poverty in particular; he always highlighted that people should have more freedom to improve their living conditions. He also supported a special committee to help Georgian belligerents. Laghidze Waters was granted with the status of non-material cultural monument in 2014.
Where can Laghidze Waters branches be found?
There are three branches in Tbilisi: in Vake (near the UN Circle), Gldani and in the yard of Sameba Cathedral, which was opened with the blessing of the Georgian Patriarch after our historic café on Rustaveli was taken from us. Our great desire is to open Laghidze Waters in all regions of Georgia. It’s also impossible to talk about Laghidze Waters without mentioning the Laghidze Lemonade Factory, founded in 1900, which at present is headed by my father-in-law Tornike Laghidze and sister-in-law, Tina Laghidze.
Have you made any changes in technology?
Mitropane Laghidze created such a plethora of waters that it is almost impossible to add anything new. These waters as natural and healthy and don’t contain any chemical elements. Every government should be proud of such a product, and I really wish that our government paid more attention to this national treasure and its popularization.
What’s on the Laghidze Waters menu?
People can taste all sorts of Khachapuri and Lobiani with the Waters, as well as non-alcoholic gluhwein and tasty desserts.
Have you modernized services in the Laghidze Waters locales?
There are ‘Take Away’ and delivery services and it is also possible to take the Waters and Khachapuri in attractive packaging from the café. I’m really happy when I come across young people in the streets with Laghidze Waters cups. The interiors in the cafes are modern, and pleasant music plays in the background. If the Rustaveli café is restored, I hope it will return with an authentic and historic image and interior.
Are young members of your family interested in this business?
MeI and my husband, like Mitropane Lagidze, have five children, my husband’s sister has one and after us, these young people should continue this remarkable tradition and take care of it. We often tell them how important it is to love your business, we share different stories with them and try to keep in their minds that this business is their responsibility. My elder son is studying in England; he is very motivated and has many exciting ideas and plans for Laghidze Waters. I’m sure after returning home, he will successfully continue this family business with his brothers, sisters and cousin.
Tell us about returning Laghidze Waters to Rustaveli Avenue.
The café on Rustaveli, which is included on the national list of historical monuments, was sold by the government in 2007. The returning of this spot is highly important for our city, because it was a place of friendship, getting together, and kindness. Even the tree near Laghidze Waters has its own history – where public figures , writers, poets, scientists, artists, actors once gathered, among them Akaki Tsereteli, Galaktion Tabidze, Ilia Chavchavadze and others. So, it is really very significant to return Laghidze Waters to its historical address…