Avanti Expands : atelier V designs Legendary Pasadena Restaurant

Westwood, Ca


avanti10Avanti cafe has been serving Pasadena residents with one of the best original wood fired pizzas anywhere in the nation since 1986.  In fact their pies have been named number one pizza in Pasadena for 17 years in a row.  When the Owner/Proprietor Bobby and Mina Ghofranian finally thought of opening a second location due to popular demand, they came to atelier V : architecture to design it for them.  ”Bobby is what I call a tireless warrior, when he came to us we all wondered what took him so long ! their food had been so good for so many years that an expansion seemed almost inevitable “ says Mark Vaghei, AIA, atelier V’s Principal in Charge.  This time however, Bobby Ghofranian wanted to take his legendary Italian fair to a new level.  He purchased the old Spring Garden Chinese restaurant at 187 Sierra Madre, an old establishment owners of which had retired.  ” The existing building was a a 50 year old tired looking triangular mess of a structure, we basically had to gut it down to its old tired frame and start all over”  Says Mark Vaghei, AIA.

avanti31The Site is located at a triangular piece of property at the intersection of East Foothill Blvd, N. Sierra Madre Blvd. and Carmelo Ave.  The existing building was an old 1950′s wood structure with a triangular floor plan which mimicked the sites outlines and parking in the back.  Early in the process and due to financial concerns, it was decided that the existing building must stay but the understanding was that other than its basic frame, not much else could be salvaged.  The program was for a 3,500 Sf full service restaurant that would take the existing Avanti concept to the next level with an expanded menu and a full service bar.  The Kitchen facilities would be divided into two distinct sections: one, an exhibition kitchen with dual wood fired pizza ovens and counter seating and, two, a back kitchen which would house the walk-in cooler/freezer and the Prep areas.  Additionally the Owners wanted  some outdoor dining, so a small section in the front of the triangle was separated from the rest and was allocated to outdoor seating.  This changed the entire structure of the building in the front necessitating the introduction of an exposed steel moment frame with handicap ramp exiting.

avanti32“Our concept for the new Avanti took inspiration from some of the old brick Pasadena buildings, so early on , we knew that this will be a brick facade building with other layers added on!” Says Mark Vaghei, AIA .  Perforated stainless steel panels were added as a screen wall in front of the brick wall of the building to mitigate the effect of sunlight for the guests inside as well as to act as a barrier to the noise of the traffic a few feet away.  The panels would then be lit at night via LED lighting to announce Avanti’s presence in the context.  ”We really wanted to re-create the old Pasadena building and then add our modern 21st century layer to it, hence the perforated panels” says Mark Vaghei, AIA.  THe entire ceiling of the interior space is left exposed wood and the HVAC and other systems are all exposed to view.  The Bar took on a semi-circular shape acting as a funnel to receive and send the guests through to the dining room area.  Perforated panels are again used on the interior in various places to remind one of the outside facade.

WEBSITEThe project is currently under construction slated for a grand opening date of July/August 2014.  We will be bringing you further progress  and final finished photos of the project in subsequent VEWS articles.  atelier V: architecture would like to thank Bobby Ghofranian and the rest of the team for their participation in this exciting project.



Elise McCurley , Project Manager / 3D artist

Leonardo Rodriguez, Junior Draftsman




avanti-24avanti-3elevation - westelevation - east