Aroma Café offers a chic collection of dining experiences in La Jolla
By Marti Gacioch
It’s a restaurant, it’s a bakery, it’s a sports bar, it’s a nightclub: It’s Aroma Café, La Jolla’s largest restaurant at 11,000 square feet.
Friends and business partners, Ben Tashakorian, Didier Pellerud and Oved Haskal, banded together in 2010 to transform the old Hard Rock Café site. Six months later they debuted Aroma Café, a multi-use space, including a 1,000-square-foot bakery, a 350-seat café (open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and late night dinners), and the BarFly nightclub.
The partners each bring their own expertise to their collaborative venture: Tashakorian has worked as a realtor for 10 years. Haskal has owned Pacific Beach’s Society Bar since 1988 and Pellerud brings 35 years of baking expertise to the café.
“Our inspiration to open the restaurant was to save the jobs of 85 Hard Rock Café employees and their entertainment license for the La Jolla community,” Tashakorian said.
Aroma Café’s comfortable, casual atmosphere is family-oriented. Children under age 12 eat free all day on Wednesdays, and according to Tashakorian, the café serves about 300 people daily.
“Our big, open space has 24 TVs, screening every major sporting event, and plenty of room for the kids to run around,” Tashakorian said. “We have patio and courtyard seating, and people can sit on Prospect, too.”
Aroma Café’s 45-page menu features an extensive array of dishes from Europe, Asia and the Middle East, along with sandwiches and burgers. Popular local favorites include pizza and
“We make our own dough and our pizzas and salads are phenomenal,” Tashakorian said. “We are known for our chicken pesto plates, schnitzel, and people keep coming back for our falafel, hummus, chicken shwarma, kebabs and
Middle Eastern rice.
Co-owner/pastry chef Didier Pellerud heads an in-house team which begins baking breads, croissants, pastries and cookies at 5 a.m. Almond croissants are Pellerud’s signature creation and remain a favorite of repeat customers. The Napoleons and three-layer cakes also have a strong customer following.
At 10 p.m. the restaurant space transforms into BarFly — the only nightclub in La Jolla.
“We have a DJ booth with a nightclub sound and lighting system,” Tashakorian said. “We have live local bands playing jazz and top 40 on Friday and Sunday, and on Friday, free appetizers are available 4-7 p.m. Aroma Café and BarFly are available to rent for special events.
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