People & Community

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Named After: Benji's Basque Restaurant

By Lisa Kimble
Friday, Sep 26 2014 12:53 AM

All of Bakersfield's famed Basque eateries are clustered on the city's east side, with the exception of the youngest of the crop, the much-loved Benji's French-Basque Restaurant on Rosedale Highway. The restaurant is named for its proprietor, 67-year-old Basque immigrant Bernard "Benat" Benji Arduain, who first established the French-style dining destination on Union Avenue in 1986.

When Arduain moved to Bakersfield, he worked as a cook for his then-wife Jenny Maitia's family's restaurant, Wool Growers. He made the name change from Benat, the French Basque spelling of Bernard, to Benji out of necessity.

"We had too many Bernards there at the time, so we had to change my name and I told them I didn't care what they came up with," he...

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