THE TORTONI STORY
Daniel Avaca moved to the US from Argentina in 2001 with a degree in Industrial Design from the University of Cordoba. Karina Vico arrived in the States in 2002. In her case, with a degree in Journalism from the same university. Both quickly became part of the multi-cultural fabric of Los Angeles and built experience in the gastronomic industry. Daniel acquired over 12 years of restaurant management experience that gave him the tools to start considering that was time to develop his own project. In the final build out stage of Tortoni, Gonzalo Cullen and Natalia Primo stepped in as part of the company with their own skills and experiences to contribute to this challenge.
Like most of the Argentine population, Tortoni’s founders descend from European ancestors. The Italian influence is very strong in Argentina, thus the strong tradition of coffee bars or caffes, like they are called in Italy.
“Let’s grab a coffee!” This frase anticipates most of social meetings in Argentine cities. Buenos Aires is full of coffee bars, the favorite place for locals to get together for work or pleasure or just for a break during their work day. “Let’s grab a coffee” takes us to share endless conversations in a place that suddenly becomes intimate. The special ambiance in those urban coffee bars makes them part of everybody’s daily lives.
People don’t just stop frenetically for a carry-out coffee on their way to work. They take a good hour beforehand to read the news and talk to the barista or other patrons about politics or sports. A coffee cup becomes witness of business deals, declarations of love, break-up dramas, and old friends stories.
There is a cafe in downtown Buenos Aires that clearly represents this tradition: the Gran Cafe Tortoni. This historic establishment was founded in 1858 by Jean Touan, a French immigrant that wanted to bring to Buenos Aires the concept of a cafe that already existed on the Boulevard des Italiens in Paris under the name of Cafe Tortoni, founded by the Tortoni family around 1800. The Parisian Cafe Tortoni closed down in 1893, but the Argentine institution still stands strong.
Daniel decided to use the name Tortoni as a way to pay tribute to this caffé experience and why not, to import once more by another immigrant, a tradition that has traveled through continents.