We had the good fortune of connecting with Amara Barroeta and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Amara, how do you think about risk?
The biggest risk I’ve ever taken is moving to the US and opening Amara Cafe with my husband when back in Venezuela I was a chemical engineer and he was an orthopedic surgeon. Everybody told us we were crazy but we knew we had to create that opportunity for ourselves and once we did it we were all in. There was no way back, we continued pushing forward and poured our souls and resources to succeed. I don’t miss the long nights filled with the mixed emotions of anxiety and excitement, but we purposely take risks often to keep the resilience muscles active. In my view, risk taking is a skill that one should build. Everyday I do something that takes me out of my comfort zone even if it is small. That helps me prepare mentally for bigger challenges ahead. Business wise, every year we plan on growing or changing something in our business and that always implies risk taking. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses and having a course of action in case things don’t go as planned are as important as the goals itself. After all, risk taking in the dynamic world we live in is the vitamin of any business to keep it healthy, interesting and fun.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Amara Chocolate & Coffee is a cafe in Pasadena where we serve great Venezuelan food, the best hot chocolate, spicy coffees and mochas in town and freshly made crispy churros. But what have set us apart from others has been the eclectic community we have built that comes not only to enjoy our unique cuisine but to connect with others. I know it might sound crazy, but as I love talking to people when I’m in the cafe and educate them about chocolate and how we come up with new dishes and recipes, it opens the door for conversation and suddenly others join and get to meet new people. People always reference the cafes in Paris, Madrid or Caracas when they see the ambiance at Amara’s. Of course, we didn’t get to this point without lots of hard work specially understanding the local culture and how a Venezuelan concept would fit in. Using pictures and clear descriptions with references that others can relate to was key to generate excitement for dishes otherwise people would’ve never tried. Definitely, the welcoming attitude of our team and our strong desire to see people come back for more made it possible. I hope that when others get to know our story, they can see that if they have to start from square one in life, the opportunity to have a clean slate to start a new path is filled with great new possibilities beyond what you already dream of.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
This city is so full of color and textures, it’s usually hard to choose a couple. -Afternoon surfing session at Manhattan Beach. Then drive along the coast to Palos Verdes and enjoy the sunset in one of the road stops. Drinks and sushi at Bashi restaurant in Terranea Hotel. -Walking day at DTLA starting at The Broad, Opera House, MOCA. Enjoy the colors and flavors at Central Market. Finish with cafe de olla and mariachis at Placita Olvera and a walk around Grand Central Station. -Hiking day to the Hollywood sign then Ramen at Silverlake. -Drive along Sunset Blvd, stop for glam pictures at Grayson Mansion and Dinner & Cocktails at Chateau Marmont. -Spend an afternoon at the Griffith Observatory then down for Mexican food at Guelagetza. -Korean Spa day at Wi Spa, then drinks at Spire 73. -Enjoy the gardens at Huntington Library and finish with Arepas, churros & chocolate at Amara’s.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
The women in my family and around me have been an inspiration to face challenges. My grandmother believed our souls healed when nourished with food that was crafted with love. I have used some of her recipes at the cafe but more importantly I keep alive the kindness she gave to others in my business. I’m also very grateful to TEDxPasadena for giving me the opportunity to tell my story as an immigrant in the US helping raise awareness of the reality of many people in Venezuela. Finally, a big shoutout to my community in Pasadena that have kept our energy up when times are hard. They have showed up to support us during these trying times by expressing their desire to shop local, because together we are stronger.
Amara Barroeta & Adriana Ortiz