Steering Support

San Marino Motor Classic gives back to nonprofits

By Laura Latzko

The San Marino Motor Classic is known as one of Southern California’s premier Concours d’Elegance events, but the weekend of festivities drives funds to nonprofits. 

Planned and run by 200 volunteers, the festivities at Lacy Park include an art show and gala, as well as an event focused on auto-themed watches. 

The San Marino Motor Classic was founded in 2011 by Aaron Weiss, Ben Reiling and Paul Colony as a successor for a previous event held in the area, the Los Angeles Concours d’Elegance. 

The classic has grown from 125 cars the first year to around 480 this year. 

“The whole thing is about charity,” Weiss says.  

Weiss works to keep the admission price affordable so it’s accessible to people of all ages and backgrounds. 

“We really wanted to have a car show that was of the people,” he says. “We want somebody to be able to come with their significant other and their kids.

“We can share the hobby with them. That’s really what it is all about. If you don’t show these old cars, they are going to become irrelevant, and then when you sell them, nobody is going to want them. I also tell people that the hobby is not about the cars but the people that you meet. It’s a social thing as well.” 

The show highlights vehicles from the brass, depression and post-war eras in more than 30 classes, including the Rolls-Royce, Corvette, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Woodie, BMW, Ford Thunderbird, Jaguar, Japanese and Italian sports cars, Chevrolet Tri-Five, European Sedans, McLarens, Firebird Trans Am, Mustang, Camaro, Austin-Healey and Aston Martin.

The top three in each class will receive trophies in categories like Most Elegant Open Pre-War Car, Best Paint and Finish, Sports Car Market Pursuit of Passion, People’s Choice, Most Elegant Post-War, Most Exotic Sports Car, HVA Preservation, and Best in Show Pre-War and Post-War awards. 

The 2019 Best in Show winners were a 1910 Model M 6-40 Touring and a 1954 300SL Gullwing car. 

Judges look at different components when they score. The points are added and divided by three for the score. 

“Each car starts out with 100 points,” Weiss says. “There are 30 different categories of things they are looking at — the quality of the paint, the fit and finish, the authenticity, the quality of the interior, the quality of the chrome and trim, the engine compartment, the undercarriage, the top if it’s a convertible.”

This year, the show will have a 1909 De Dion Type de Course, a 1948 Tucker Model 48, a 1910 Pope-Hartford Touring car, a 1914 Packard 138, a 1914 Moline Knight SD Opera Sedan, a 1931 Duesenberg Derham Tourster, a 1936 Lincoln Model K Convertible Roadster by LeBaron, a 1934 Auburn 1250 V12 Phaeton Salon and a 1937 Delahaye 135 Torpedo Cabriolet.  

During the show, select clubs hold their own events, including the Ferrari Club of America’s Concorso Ferrari, the Classic Car Club of America’s Grand Classic and Packard International’s Grand Salon. 

New to the weekend is the August 21 art show presented by the Automotive Fine Arts Society, an international art organization founded in 1983. Many of the professional artists within the organization have worked as designers for major car companies. 

The exhibit will showcase 10 artists working in mediums such as sculpture, oil or watercolor paint, or pencil and ink. Wine, cheese and snacks will be served. 

Music plays an important role in the San Marino Motor Classic. During the Symphony of Cars Gala, 16 vehicles will be presented to orchestra music from the era in which the car was made. The gala will feature a dinner, music, valet parking and a hosted bar. 

A very different type of event inspired the idea for the gala, which benefits Cancer Support Community Pasadena, Pasadena Humane and the Rotary Club of San Marino.

 “I came up with this idea for the Symphony of Cars after going to a debutante ball,” Weiss says.“I said let’s not present girls, let’s present cars, and we will play a piece of music paired with the year the car was made.”

The organization has raised $2.2 million for local charities. 

Patricia Ostiller, executive director for Cancer Support Community Pasadena, says being able to connect with others, especially through support groups, is important to patients’ overall well-being. 

“We know that our programs are improving the quality of life for people facing cancer and most importantly improving patient outcomes,” Ostiller says.“We have members who have told us during the pandemic that we are their lifeline. They rely on us for support, education and hope.”

Money raised from the gala will help with program costs and computer upgrades. In 2019, the gala raised $60,000 for the nonprofit, which also hosts its own events, like Ladies’ Night Out fundraiser. 

“(Aaron) has taken his love of cars and done something really valuable with it for the community,” Ostiller says.

“Everybody knows someone who is impacted by cancer, and everybody wants to take care of those people in our shared community. That’s what Aaron’s generosity allows us to do.” 

Life, liberty, lucha

Republic of Lucha gives wrestling focus to gift shop

By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski

Javier Robles admits his store, Republic of Lucha, is a little bit kitsch and somewhat eccentric — but it’s the perfect gift shop for wrestling fans and nonfans alike. 

Co-owned by Robles, his wife Ari de Alba, and All Elite Wrestling stars the Lucha Brothers, Republic of Lucha opened in March. 

“We decided to do something centered around lucha libre — not so much the sport but the culture of it,” Robles says. 

“It’s something really unique and colorful and vibrant and alive. We know how much people all over the world are fascinated by it, although they might not be fans of the sport, per se.”

The idea was born in October, but the entrepreneurs wanted to wait to open Republic of Lucha or a taco truck until 2022, when it would presumably be safe post-pandemic. However, a “gorgeous” 3,800-square-foot, two-and-a-half-story brick building from 1908 was available in the heart of South Pasadena. 

They couldn’t resist. 

“We had 400 people on opening day,” Robles says. 

“We had people traveling from Chicago, New York, Florida, Arizona, all over. It’s like that every weekend. It’s accidentally become a tourist spot because of the guys. This is the flagship store for the Lucha Brothers. They’re really good people and the best wrestlers in the world right now.”

Robles says the point of the store goes beyond fans. It’s a space for everybody with art installations, merchandise, movies and masks. 

“We’ve had a lot of repeat customers already who come in, hang out, and stare at the art and masks,” he says.

On the weekends, Republic of Lucha hosts outdoor movie nights for about 50 people. On a recent night, the screening of a 1963 black-and-white Mexican movie about a wrestler who fights Martians sold out. 

“It’s a lot of fun,” he adds. “It’s the third consecutive sold-out show. They’re all lucha libre movies. They’ve quickly become a huge hit. Most of the crowd that comes for the movies, they’re not there to watch Hulk Hogan or stuff like that. They love the strangeness of Lucha Libre. They’re goofy and strange.”

That said, Robles feels Republic of Lucha fits snugly in the quirky neighborhood. It’s near “the world’s last remaining video stores on the planet, the Michael Myers house and SugarMynt Gallery. This whole area has Indian food, a Mexican bakery and Chinese fried chicken. South Pasadena doesn’t look as colorful as it truly is at first glance. Once you look at it, it’s amazing.”

Robles was introduced to Mexican grapplers through a burlesque wrestling show for which he formerly worked. He admitted he’s a fan, but he’s “pretty good at business, too.” He helps the athletes with licensing, green cards, work permits and books. 

“I’ve been the unofficial point person for lucha libre for the last decade or so,” Robles added. 

As for the Lucha Brothers — otherwise known as Lucha Brothers Penta Zero M and Rey Fenix — they “exploded,” Robles says, in the last 10 years. The real-life siblings have clean images, so fans respond favorably to them. 

“Their performance in the ring — not because they’re my partners — proves they’re the best wrestlers I’ve ever seen in my life,” he says. “The U.S. market caught on to that. They’ve been with AEW from the beginning.”

Teaming with the Lucha Brothers just made sense. 

“I told them, ‘I don’t know any wrestler after age 50 who has a nest egg, because they hadn’t invested their money wisely. I don’t want you guys to be that,’” he recalled. 

“They love learning, and they’re for any crazy idea we’ve had with this store. Let’s play crazy movies. Let’s do this T-shirt or this design. When you see how the locals have responded to it, it makes sense. We knew this was going to happen.”

‘Leap of Faith’

Pasadena film festival looking to make September return

By Connor Dziawura

After a “nightmare” 2020, the Pasadena International Film Festival is looking to get back into the swing of things as the summer winds down.

Jessica Hardin, festival director, describes the COVID-19 pandemic as creating a snowball effect of closures and cancellations in March 2020, leading up to the Pasadena festival becoming yet another casualty.

“We had our festival in March, and the pandemic shut it down, so it was just a nightmare,” Hardin recalls. “We lost so much money.”

From that point on, the past year and a half turned into a waiting game — first waiting for it to be safe to reschedule and finish the 2020 event in person, something that never came, then waiting for the right time to set up this year’s festival.

Normally a springtime event, the annual Pasadena International Film Festival has found the time from September 9 to September 16. Once again slated for the Playhouse Village, the festival is expected to show more than 130 films from 15 countries. Submissions are being accepted through August 13.

“We cut it down to the wire because the longer we have submissions, the more films we’re able to choose from. So, it’s really stressful — like, scary,” Hardin admits with a laugh. “But we find that so far it’s worked out for us.”

Though they have yet to be finalized, films will vary between feature and short lengths, live action and animated, whether fiction or documentary. Music videos and web series are even anticipated. There will also be moderated Q&As and free panels.

“We do not discriminate,” Hardin says.

“We want everything, because we figured — I don’t know how niche festivals do it — the more open our selection, the better quality that we’ll get. And it’s also we get really unique things, too, and that’s just my own personal taste. … We had a silent film that was really cool. People get really creative and inventive.

“We try to create a diverse panoply of product. So, if we get 100 vampire movies and they’re all fantastic, then that’s tough because you’re all vampire movies. We want to celebrate diversity, and not necessarily in a racial way, but literally the meaning of ‘diverse’ where we have a wide variety of all different sorts of films. We have shorts, features, documentaries, music videos, webisodes. So, I mean, the only thing we’re really looking for is quality.”

As to much of the specifics on this year’s festival, however, the details are still being worked out.

“I really don’t think I’ll know until it actually happens. I mean, we sort of just have to go by a leap of faith,” Hardin admits. “I thought June 15, when everything opened up, ‘everything’ would open up. But people are still leery. Places don’t want to host events.”

What has been confirmed, however, is that screenings will once again take place at the Laemmle Playhouse 7, while the Lyd & Mo Photography Studio down the road will transform into the Passholders Lounge with an open bar. At 7 p.m. Thursday, September 16, nearby cocktail lounge The Speakeasy will host the Great Gatsby Gala and Award Ceremony, a 1920s-themed, black-tie-optional closing celebration for guests ages 21 and older.

“We try to utilize as many businesses as possible in the city to bring a lot of tourism and revenue to the city,” Hardin says.

As it stands, Hardin says an online component isn’t planned for this September. When organizers were unable to reschedule the canceled festival in person some other time last year, they turned to hosting screenings and other events online in the fall. But Hardin says the virtual festival didn’t resonate with audiences as strongly as had been hoped, and she says the standard in-person format is better for industry networking anyway.

“I’ve debated that since we started, because I always felt for people who say they have a grandma or somebody that can’t travel, that can’t get on a plane or even drive or something like that, and it’s a great way for somebody who may have missed your screening to see it online; but we got such little response and it was so much work, it didn’t really seem worth it to me,” Hardin explains, clarifying that depending on demand, it’s not entirely off the table.

As to how the new dates will affect the future of the festival, Hardin says it’s a possibility that it returns to an earlier setting in the spring. That also has yet to be seen, though.

“To be honest, we’re just nervous about the future of movie theaters in general,” Hardin admits. “So it’s the kind of thing where you just have to play it by ear.”

The Main Squeeze

Accordionist Nick Ariondo continues his cinematic journey

By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski

Nick Ariondo considers himself lucky. 

Others may say the world-renowned accordionist’s success comes down to talent. 

The Glendale resident, who entertains annually on Bastille Day at Nicole’s, has a resume most musicians would envy. 

“I’m very fortunate,” says Ariondo, who showcases his music on YouTube at nickariondo1.

“I’ve been able to do this most of my life. I do play keyboards, but predominantly, my true virtuosity is with the accordion.”

The accordion, he says, takes tremendous self-discipline. That’s why the instrument is a dying art. 

“Nowadays, people are attached to their computers and phones,” he says. “It’s hard to get a kid to sit in the room and practice. My dad was a plasterer back east. They were artisans. He told me to sit in there and practice every day. He said to be serious about what I wanted to do so I didn’t waste anyone’s time.”

In October, movie fans can hear the fruits of his labor when “Addams Family 2” hits the silver screen. He also lent his sound to the first chapter, “The Addams Family,” which featured music written by Mychael Danna and Jeff Danna. 

“I have some other things lined up, but there are questions marks next to them,” Ariondo says. “With the pandemic, musicians are the last ones working again.”

Longtime music lover

Ariondo was born in Pittsburgh and started private accordion lessons at age 7 under the tutelage of TV personality Mario DiNardo. As fledgling performers, Ariondo and his older brother, Anthony, began playing for church functions, fashion shows and family events in the late 1950s before traveling to the West Coast. 

“In the late ’50s, early ’60s, when we were little kids, my dad made the major move to the West Coast in the 1955 Ford station wagon,” he says with a laugh. “He moved out here for work. This is where I started continuing with all my accordion and music training.”

At age 16, Ariondo won the virtuoso category in the Western States Accordion Festival for his performance of Liszt’s “Rhapsody Espanol.” 

He went on to study at Los Angeles City College, and upon graduation, he was presented the Hugo Davise Composition Award for his “String Quartet No.1.”

Ariondo continued his education at California State University at Los Angeles and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in music in 1976 and, four years later, a Master of Arts degree in composition and performance with special emphasis toward the utilization and integration of the accordion in chamber music settings. 

Ariondo continued performing, composing and arranging while developing a vast repertoire for the years ahead. 

“I became very interested in arranging and composition,” Ariondo says. “I was able to work my way. Everything I perform is my own arrangement and composition. That takes many, many years of experimenting and trying new things. When you’re playing a piece, you learn to rearrange it in your head. 

“It’s nice to be a great performer. There’s that extension of composing that really adds a whole other element. I have more than 200 pieces in my catalog.”

His work in the opera field with director/vocal coach Wendel Phillips led Ariondo into performing and arranging operatic arias and duets directly from the piano scores, accompanying a variety of singers in concert with accordion and small ensembles, a valuable learning experience into the world of operatic literature and understanding the vocal concept of accompaniment.

“I play all these different styles of music,” Ariondo says. “I was lucky enough to come out to California and connect with various (ethnicities) that are out here — Romanians, Russians, Greeks, the French, Jewish and Hungarians.”

Playing a variety of well-known clubs at ages 17 and 18 was a great learning experience for Ariondo.  

Throughout his career, Ariondo has won 25 ASCAP awards and has performed on stage with Placido Domingo. He also did studio session work at Capitol Records with Paul McCartney. 

Ariondo, who has an on-screen cameo in “Bridesmaids,” is a double Grammy Award winner with the Los Angeles Opera Orchestra. 

As a composer/arranger, Ariondo arranged Russian folk songs that appeared in Warren Beatty’s film “Love Affair.” Mychael recruited Ariondo for the Oscar-winning film “Life of Pi.” 

Recently, he contributed to the soundtrack of Disney’s “Luca,” a coming-of-age story about a young boy experiencing a summer filled with gelato, pasta and scooter rides. But there’s a secret: Sea monsters from another world live below the water’s surface. 

“Luca” is the 33rd movie that Ariondo has been credited with musically. Ariondo is modest when he says he doesn’t have to worry about his future. 

“I’m fortunate enough that I don’t have to worry about what’s coming up,” Ariondo says.

“I can pick and choose what I want to take. I don’t have to worry about where my next gig is going to be.”

Nutty Nostalgia

By Emily Chavez

Seeing the little kids in my neighborhood head to school for the new year reminds me of my first day. 

I enjoyed the simple school lunch of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich just as much as the elaborate meals my mother or grandmother would make for my sister and me. 

The PB&J sandwich is nostalgic for many people and even serves as a comfort food when a break is needed from the hectic “grown-up” life. The traditional flavor pairing of peanut butter and jelly — my classic choice being grape — is reimagined in these macarons. It delights texturally with the delicate crunch and chewiness of the macaron and the creamy peanut butter and jelly cream filling.

PB&J Macarons

Active time: 35 minutes | Total time: 1 hour

Yields about 24 macarons


2/3 cup granulated sugar and 2 tablespoons granulated sugar for syrup

4 1/4 ounces egg whites, at room temperature

1/4 cup water

1 1/3 cups almond flour

1 1/4 cups powdered sugar

1/2 vanilla bean, split in half lengthways and seeds scraped out

3 1/2 ounces cream cheese

1 3/4 ounces peanut butter

1 3/4 ounces grape jelly

Optional food coloring for the macarons


1. Stir the almond flour, powdered sugar and vanilla bean seeds in a bowl. 

2. Add half of the egg whites, stir until a paste is formed, and set aside. 

3. To make the sugar syrup, stir together the 2/3 cup sugar and water in a small pot until the temperature reaches 245 degrees.

4. While the sugar syrup is heating up, whisk the remaining egg whites in another bowl until frothy. Then add the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar and continue whisking until fluffy. 

5. Once the sugar syrup mixture reaches 249 degrees, carefully pour it into the fluffy eggs. Whisk until the mixture is stiff, fluffy, and holds its shape.

6. Optional: If you want to add food coloring, add it to the meringue at this step. 

7. Stir a spoonful of the meringue into the almond paste to loosen it. Then, gently fold the remaining almond paste into the meringue with a spatula. 

8. Put the mixture into a piping bag, and pipe 1 1/2-inch flat circles onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. 

9. Bake at 320 degrees for about 12 to 14 minutes, until firm to touch, being careful they don’t brown.

10. To make the filling, combine half of the cream cheese with the peanut butter in a bowl and mix together until smooth and fully incorporated. 

11. In another bowl, combine the remaining half of the cream cheese and jelly and mix together until smooth and fully incorporated.

12. Decoratively pipe the filling on a macaron half or apply with a small spatula and then top with another macaron half. 

Refreshing and Easy

These summer drinks are for the whole family to make at home

By Hermann Samano

As the weather warms up and summer continues, staying cool and hydrated is important. 

Making summer drinks is a fun way to try out new recipes, explore new flavors and have fun together as a family. Staying properly hydrated can help keep your body temperature regulated, support a healthy immune system, and may even ensure you sleep better at night. 

While water is excellent for hydration, adding fresh fruit and other ingredients for summer drinks makes it fun. Whether you’re making drinks for kids or trying out new cocktail recipes for the adults, it’s an easy way to try something new while staying nicely hydrated. You’ll save a lot of money making homemade drinks, too.

From mocktail recipes to slushies and more, check out these recipes for summer drinks to make at home that the entire family will enjoy.

Healthy Green Hydration Drink

Try this delicious green, cold summer mocktail recipe that’s perfect for brunch. This drink doesn’t contain any alcohol, so it’s an ideal substitute for a classic mimosa. You’ll need:

• 10 fresh spinach leaves.

• 5 fresh basil leaves.

• Diced green apple, approximately one-half.

• 2 slices of fresh ginger.

• 2/3 cup apple juice (fresh or store-bought).

• 3 to 5 ice cubes.

Simply toss your ingredients into a blender and blend everything until it’s smooth. Serve these fun drinks in a glass and enjoy.

Peach and Honey Cooler

Here’s another incredible nonalcoholic summer drink that’s healthy, hydrating and delicious. Refreshing peach blends with a homemade honey-lime syrup for a delicately sweet beverage without additives, alcohol or artificial flavors. You will need:

• 2 to 3 fresh basil leaves.

• 4 ounces sparkling water or seltzer water.

• 1 sliced fresh peach.

• 1 1/2 ounces honey-lime syrup (1/3 cup fresh honey and 1/3 cup fresh lime juice).

Combine the honey, 1/2 cup warm water and lime juice in a small saucepan on low heat. Mix the ingredients, making sure that the water doesn’t boil, then remove the saucepan from the heat. Muddle the basil in a tall glass or a cocktail shaker, then add the sparkling water. Add 1 1/2 ounces of the honey-lime syrup and a few peach slices, then shake everything together to combine. Pour the drink over ice and garnish it with a fresh piece of lime and a peach slice.

Fruity Watermelon and Blueberry Tequila Cocktail

While this recipe does contain alcohol, it’s still a light and refreshing choice, thanks to the addition of fresh watermelon and juicy blueberries. These are fun drinks to make, and you can always eliminate the tequila if you prefer a mocktail instead. You will need to gather:

• 4 cups cold water.

• 1/4 cup granulated sugar.

• 1 pound or 8 cups of diced, seedless watermelon.

• 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice.

• 1 3/4 cups fresh blueberries.

• 3/4 cup of fresh mint leaves (save approximately 8 mint sprigs for the garnish).

• 1 1/4 cups silver tequila, any brand.

• Ice.

Simmer the water and sugar in a small saucepan. Stir together over medium heat until all the sugar is completely dissolved (about 1 minute). Let the sugar syrup cool. Puree the watermelon in a blender until smooth, then strain the juice over a bowl using a fine-mesh strainer – you can discard the pulp. Combine the sugar syrup with lime juice, mint leaves and fresh blueberries. Lightly muddle the blueberries and mint with a wooden spoon, then add the watermelon juice and tequila in a large pitcher. Refrigerate everything for about 2 hours until chilled, then serve and enjoy over ice with the mint sprigs as a garnish.

Easy slush recipes to make at home for kids

Adults aren’t the only ones who can enjoy fun drinks this summer. Try out these easy, nonalcoholic, drinks to make for kids, including fantastic slush recipes and healthy drinks. The kids will love participating as they explore and learn how to make their very own slushies.

Watermelon Cooler

This is sure to become one of your children’s favorite slush recipes. If they’re not a fan of watermelon, you can easily replace it with another type of fruit. It’s one of many great hydration drinks since watermelon can replenish lost electrolytes to keep you hydrated. All you will need is:

• 2 cups seedless watermelon, chopped.

• 1 or more cups of ice.

• 1/4 cup sparkling water.

Simply toss your ingredients into the blender on high until everything reaches that perfect summer slush consistency, and then serve it with a colorful straw. Add another small chunk of watermelon as a fun garnish if you choose.

Delicious and Fun Whole Fruit Slushies

This recipe is a great way to get the kids involved, since they can pick out their favorite fruits. It’s easy to make, delicious and is chock-full of healthy and hydrating ingredients that feature nutrients like fiber, vitamin C and potassium. Have some fun mixing different fruits, and let your kids choose their favorite combinations. Some of the best fruits to try include:

• Berries: blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries.

• Melon: watermelon, honeydew, cantaloupe.

• Bananas.

• Pineapple or mango.

• Cherries.

• Peaches.

Add your desired amount of fruit to a blender with some ice cubes, then blend everything on high until it reaches that perfect slush consistency. You can also add a tiny bit of honey to make it sweeter, but it’s important to note that many fruits are already naturally sweet, so you may not need the honey. If you don’t have fresh fruit on hand, various frozen fruits will do just fine, too.

Pineapple Coconut Slush for Kids (and Adults)

Kids and adults alike will love this summer slushie. Packed with healthy ingredients, it’s a fun drink that the kids can make together at home. This nonalcoholic summer drink is also a perfect dessert for summertime dinner parties and backyard barbecues. To make the drink, you will need the following ingredients to get started:

• 2 1/2 cups frozen pineapple chunks.

• 1 cup cold coconut water.

• 1/2 lime, juice.


• 1 to 2 tablespoons honey (or sweetener of your choice).

• 1 ounce rum (for adults).

Place the ingredients in a blender and mix at high speed until smooth. If necessary, add more coconut water to thin out the slushy, more pineapple (or ice) to thicken or more honey (if using) to sweeten the mixture. Serve immediately and enjoy.

Nimble Charm

Julienne keeps its atmosphere vivid and alive

By Frier McCollister

No place better exemplifies the unassuming, casual elegance and charm of San Marino than Mission Street’s Julienne and its owner Julie Campoy. 

For more than 35 years, the restaurant and market have set a high standard of unstinting excellence, naturally garnering a local cadre of loyal, daily regulars who patiently line up around the block — even during the long uncertainty of the pandemic lockdown.

Julienne didn’t close, as Campoy deftly pivoted to expanding the marketplace offerings by transforming the dining room space into a tightly curated warren of luxury retail goods. An espresso bar opened with a limited card of prepared food items, as well as 10 café tables that spotted the shady, brick-walked arcade in front. The space’s transformation was so masterfully rendered, it’s a challenge to recall its previous layout. 

Many of Campoy’s core staff have worked there for more than 30 years. It’s a family business that considers its staff as extended family.  

“We’re so lucky that people are coming back. We care about everyone that comes in. That’s the Julienne way,” Maeve Brophy says from behind the espresso bar. 

Brophy is Campoy’s niece, the daughter of her sister Cynthia. Brophy, 27, is articulately effusive in describing Julienne’s many charms. 

“I’ve been working here since I was 10 years old. I grew up here with all the clientele,” Brophy says.

“People have been coming here for years. They have such a connection here. It’s a pretty special place.” 

Before fetching her aunt, Brophy pulls up a photograph on her phone. It shows a 10-year-old Brophy posed in formal waiter’s apron and black tie with Herbert Dominguez, the former head waiter who manages the espresso bar. 

Dominguez started working at Julienne six months after the restaurant opened in October 1985 — and never left. “I’m ‘Mister Julienne,’” he says proudly.

Campoy’s mother, Susan, opened the space as a restaurant and catering kitchen in the wake of a divorce in 1985. Her four daughters pitched in to launch the business. It was Campoy who formally joined the operation in 1989 and evolved the alternate revenue streams that established the marketplace.

“I’m beyond exhausted and exhilarated,” Campoy says. “The restaurant is retired. Our focus is on staffing, because now we’re growing in a different direction. Foundationally, the business is changing. It’s still prepared foods, takeout, catering and merchandise — we’re just doing it in a bigger way.” 

Julienne’s website has been rebuilt, and the operation has been “totally rebranded,” according to Campoy.

“It’s been really hard,” she says. “It’s been really challenging to figure this out without a game plan, with so many moving parts and all the uncertainty. We’re doing it with good cheer. We’re still trying to figure it out.”

When Susan opened Julienne in 1985, it began with three tables and slowly expanded with fully staffed catering providing the backbone of the enterprise.

“At that time, she was doing lavish beautiful catering. Herbert (Dominguez) came at that time, too, and we slowly started adding more tables. I came in 1989, and we opened up the next (adjacent) storefront,” Campoy recalls.

Campoy saw an opportunity to expand the restaurant to include a small gourmet marketplace area for merchandise, as well as prepared food and frozen entrees to take out. 

“The gourmet market has always been my baby. It’s always been my pride and joy. I was the original counter girl,” she says. 

Soon enough, the market became a key component of the business.

“It’s always been at least 60% of the business for over 30 years. In 2000, that’s when my mom decided to get out of catering and that’s when the market had to make a bigger push to compensate for that lost revenue,” Campoy says.

The thriving marketplace with its prepared foods and takeout model allowed Julienne’s pandemic pivot to be a bit more seamless and intuitive than most restaurants of its caliber.

“If we had not had the market, we would not have been able to pivot as well as we did,” Campoy says. 

“I personally manned the door for three months, morning and night. We were all learning together, and people trusted us. You have to earn trust,” Campoy says. 

That trust seems quite well earned over 30-plus years. Campoy smiles while speaking of her most faithful guests.

“We have Bob, who comes three times a day. We have Judy, who gets her chicken every day. We have regulars, and they are every, every day.”

What exactly is the appeal? It’s clearly the creatively designed atmosphere that transports guests to a rarified dimension combined with flawlessly executed, consistently delicious food.

The food served from the espresso bar is prepared fresh daily and is always available from the takeout case. The menu features seven breakfast selections, including spinach gruyere pie ($8.95) and the house breakfast burrito with chicken sausage ($9.50). There is always a soup de jour ($6.95) and a selection of eight salads — with the Julienne classic Caesar ($9.95), chicken cobb with strawberries ($18) and truffle egg salad ($12.95) being customer favorites.

Other highlights include the crab and mango quesadilla ($18.95, weekends only) and the signature chicken tarragon sandwich ($9.95), along with six other sandwich varieties.

If the intention is to enjoy a coffee and snack at one of the 10 café tables outside, nab the table first and then go in to order at the counter. The order will then be brought to your table.

There are six to seven daily specials prepared fresh for takeout or for dining at the café tables. A customer choice at the end of each day’s list indicates popular favorites. These include moussaka on Sundays, “get well soup” on Tuesdays, roasted vegetable lasagna on Thursday, and spinach and feta strata on Saturday and Sunday. Next to the main deli counter, there is also a freezer case stacked with everything from scone dough and chocolate chip waffles to chicken pot pie and ravioli.

Julienne also offers preorder picnic boxes for the summertime California Pops concerts at the LA Arboretum in Arcadia. It’s been a popular part of the operation for over 10 years.

There’s also not much waste here.

“For 10 years, we have always donated our extra food to All Saint’s Episcopal Church in Pasadena for their food drive, every Monday,” Campoy says.

The expanded marketplace is stacked with sundry household and kitchen items artfully displayed on shelves and tables throughout the mini-complex of rooms. Campoy hired a theatrical scenic designer to help devise the changing seasonal displays of merchandise. 

Candles, soaps, hand towels, glassware and precious comestibles, even a small, hardbound manual entitled “How to Eat a Lobster” and all manner of curios and objets d’art, are available for sale here. The effect is like walking through a deconstructed luxury gift basket without the raffia twine and excelsior.

Campoy emphasizes a focus on holiday celebrations with merchandise displays and menus. 

“Every holiday is a big deal here. There’s a menu and a celebration. We have food for that, and the merchandise. It’s the holidays where we really shine,” she notes.

Campoy launched a Christmas merchandise “pop-up” at the store’s nearby warehouse last year and also a summer “trunk show” of new seasonal merchandise last month.

Julienne is open seven days a week, and Campoy is reviving her 65-member staff. 

“We’re always in movement. The displays are always changing. The whole point is to be nimble. We’ve pivoted, and we now have to be nimble in our next iteration. I’m happy with how we’ve settled in,” Campoy says.

“It’s an honor and it’s a privilege that people choose us for their really cherished family meals. It’s a big responsibility. It’s something we take seriously and with great pride.” 

As a keepsake from the old days, Campoy gives Arroyo readers a classic Julienne recipe from her mother’s trove: orzo salad with feta, mint and green onions.

Changing Lives

Diana Brandin gives the hard of hearing equal access to the spoken word

By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski

Diana Brandin offers a challenge. Put cotton balls carefully in your ears and then try to hear your loved ones speak. Or, imagine seeing “Hamilton” and the sound system goes out. 

That’s what it’s like to be hard of hearing.

“Nobody would be able to hear, and that would be really frustrating,” she says about the “Hamilton” scenario. “You could just hear a little bit of murmuring on the stage. That’s it. 

“Every day, persons with deafness or who are hard of hearing find activities, school or communicating in the workplace difficult for them. Sign language and captioning is what helps them.”

From its inception in 2004, Diana Brandin Realtime Captioning has focused on helping as many persons as possible to have equal access to the spoken word. Independently and collectively, she has worked and continues to work with several captioning agencies to play a major role in assisting others to have equal access to the spoken word, or “communication access,” as described by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

“We’ve gone on-site and remote, captioning for people in educational and business settings,” she says.

“With COVID happening, there’s an increased demand because everything went virtual.

“People take for granted their hearing. Persons who are deaf or hard of hearing, they don’t have the opportunity to do that. They stare at the interpreter or the captions. We offer transcripts. They need to participate in sync with everyone else. If someone’s voting in a meeting and the (leader) says, ‘Say aye,’ you don’t want them to be delayed or not have their vote count.”

Not being able to hear can leave folks feeling isolated or cut off from friends. Especially in these times of social distancing, staying connected by phone is important.

One couple told Brandin they were thrilled with her captioning service because their daughter, who was in the ninth grade, laughed in class for the first time. She was also getting to sleep earlier because she didn’t have to stay up late, struggling to learn what had been covered by the teacher.

“That really touched my heart,” Brandin says.

She works with persons of all ages, education levels and occupations. 

“So many different people use sign language and captioning just to understand what’s going on,” Brandin says. “With COVID, people are experiencing a lot of frustration and tenseness because their lives have changed. They can’t go to the grocery store or movies. They’ve had to make adjustments. Everybody has. Having captioning enables them to be able to participate in anything.”

The year 2020 was ADA’s 30th anniversary. Brandin reflects on it, saying the act made it possible for people to have a fuller life. 

“This country is excellent about that,” she says. “I’ve worked with local colleges that have a large international body of students. Students would marvel and say, ‘This is so wonderful.’ Students would not get this service if they stayed in their home country. 

“Other countries don’t even have wheelchair ramps. Elevators accommodate people, and a lot of technology is changing the landscape. There are Zoom meetings for which we provide sign language (interpretations) and captioning.”

Brandin has been providing these services as a team since 2009, and solo since 2004. Her business has blossomed to work with schools, businesses, nonprofits, courts, private events, wedding and funerals.

“Pretty much anywhere people are speaking, that’s where our services will come in handy to them,” she says.

At funerals and weddings, for example, Brandin installs screens on-site or offers the service on tablets or smartphones. Funerals, these days, are via Zoom, so they can click on captioning or Brandin provides a link to a private device. 

Captioning was a logical progression for Brandin. She took courses in court reporting but then heard about captioning. In 2004, her first real-time captioning assignment was a continuing legal education class. 

“The attorney we worked with was extremely kind and was very helpful, as he had worked with captioners before,” she recalls. “He was the perfect client back then, and still is today.”

In her business’ infancy, she worked primarily with several captioning agencies. Brandin mentored soon-to-be captioners to help them become gainfully employed. 

“To this day many captioners thank us for the experience they gained working with us,” Brandin says.

As the demand for Brandin’s talents increased, it became necessary to grow from a solo operation to a team of on-site and remote captioners. In 2006, she ventured into remote real-time captioning services for classrooms and businesses. 

Brandin added remote captioning for livestreamed videos, conferences and webinars. 

“Clients enjoy viewing captions on their mobile devices, smartphones, tablets, laptops, projectors, jumbotrons or other display devices in a variety of settings,” she says.

“I am personally so excited about the technology. It’s amazing.”

Aspiring to New ‘Heights’

Emotional, upbeat film recalls old Hollywood 

By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski

“In the Heights” stars Olga Merediz and Jimmy Smits say their musical masterpiece is the perfect anecdote to a rough 18 months. 

“It’s balanced with emotional and deep moments, but there’s a lot of happiness and joy,” says Merediz, who plays matriarch Abuela Claudia. 

“The musical numbers are just right. The music cuts right through to you, and Jon Chu has done an amazing, amazing job with his incredible visuals. I think people are really going to resonate with the characters, and I think people are really going to enjoy it.”

With a wide smile, Smits says “ditto,” but he takes it a step further.

“We’ve also had to reckon with a lot of social issues in the past year and a half,” says Smits, who plays Kevin Rosario, a father who butts heads with his ambitious daughter. “We’re hoping that this film provides joy. Musicals tend to be uplifting and inspirational, but the universal themes resonate very strongly. I think this film is something all audiences will be able to grasp.”

Set to hit screens on Friday, June 11, “In the Heights” fuses Lin-Manuel Miranda’s music and lyrics with director Chu’s lively eye for storytelling. Chu also directed 2018’s “Crazy Rich Asians.”

The film takes viewers to the streets of Washington Heights, where the scent of cafecito caliente hangs in the air outside of the 181st Street subway stop. Led by bodega owner Usnavi (Anthony Ramos, “A Star is Born”), the tight-knit, multicultural community shares its dreams and wishes with each other — in the hopes of paving a way out, while maintaining its ties to Washington Heights. 

“I hope people recognize themselves and see themselves and feel proud,” Merediz says. 

Smits adds that viewers mustn’t live in Washington Heights to feel for the characters. 

“I’m sure you had your nanas, your grandmothers and that,” he says. “The city might be different and the cultural specificity might be a little different, but the feelings of community, family, and how the generation who comes here from another place has expectations for their (children and grandchildren) are all the same. 

“Those are universal things.”

Merediz starred as Abuela Claudia on the stage version of “In the Heights.” She’s excited to spread her character’s word among the mass of movie lovers.

“I wanted to give Claudia the platform she deserves,” says Merediz, referring to her character’s age. “She’s a character who is overlooked in our society. It’s just such a youth-oriented society. It gives me such pleasure to give her that platform.”

She explains that she enjoyed translating the stage version for film, although it was a little challenging.

“The difference is, on stage, you’re delivering to the last row and you’re doing things chronologically,” Merediz said. “In a film, everything is very internal and you shoot out of sequence. That is a challenge for an actor to keep your place, to where you are to keep that flow and that intensity of the moment in the song. It was definitely challenging, but I was up for the challenge. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.”

“In the Heights” will be available in cinemas and on HBO Max. Smits and Merediz say that although it’s available to watch at home, “In the Heights” is worthy of a trip to the movie theater. 

“The film has to be seen in the cinema,” Merediz says. “These huge numbers are epic, and they need the biggest screen you have. I know in the past year we were in lockdown. We didn’t have a choice. 

“I think it’s a good idea to have the option to see it in the movies and also at home, if you don’t have the ability to go to the cinema. I hope people see it in the theater.”

The singing and dancing numbers can translate to a cellphone or computer, but Smits agrees — go to the cinema.

“Jon’s chosen to give these visual flourishes to old Hollywood,” he adds. “It takes your breath away. He really did such a great job. I hope we bring richness, light and happiness to (cinemagoers’) lives. After the horrible year that we’ve had, people are ready for a film like this.”

“In the Heights”

Opens Friday, June 11, in theaters and HBO Max

Enjoying Summer Blooms

Pasadena Showcase event explores La Cañada Flintridge’s color

By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski

Pasadena Showcase House of the Arts will show off the colors of three sprawling estates in La Cañada Flintridge on Saturday, June 19, as part of June Bloom, an outdoor progressive garden party. 

“What’s not to love?” says Marybeth Rehman-Dittu, June Bloom’s event chair. “It’s outside, and it’s time to celebrate for a great cause.” 

The public event asks guests to step out of their homes and safely stroll through gardens showcasing beautiful landscapes, Mediterranean terraced planters and blooming ornamental roses in the heart of Flintridge.

“I cannot wait to be outside in the warm sun with friends, glass of wine in hand, enjoying summer blooms and jazz,” says Susie Aguirre, 2020-21 benefit chair and June Bloom organizer. 

“It is going to be a delightful event, and I’m proud of my fellow Pasadena Showcase members who came together to make this possible.” 

Activities include docent-led garden tours, live music entertainment at each home, floral demonstrations, and the Shops at Showcase featuring a variety of craft purveyors. 

Grab-and-go meals and snacks, wine and beer will be available for purchase throughout the event. Tickets, which must be purchased in advance, are $60 at Proceeds from the event will support Pasadena Showcase’s philanthropic initiatives.

The three featured estates include a Spanish colonial revival built in 1917 by architects Marston, Van Pelt and Maybury on 2.4 acres with a well-manicured promenade, terraced pools and planters, and a secluded tennis sanctuary; an English Tudor revival built in 1926 on 1.6 acres with a sprawling verdant lawn; and a colonial revival built in 1921 on 1.6 acres with an architecturally identical lifesize dollhouse and an expansive collection of 142 rosebushes. 

The homes’ interiors will not be open during the tour. 

Entertainment includes a jazz trio from Saturday Night Bath, Pasadena Conservatory of Music featuring Café Luar and classical guitarist Brian Barany, string trios from the Colburn School and Santa Cecilia Orchestra, pianist Greg Parker and the Riverboat Dixie Jazz Band. Many of the groups are Pasadena Showcase Gifts & Grants recipients. 

Shops at Showcase’s featured purveyors include Designer Sterling, JP Designs, The Treasured Accessory, Jacqueline B Clothing, Laurie Jo Designs, M&C Collective, Paco Soler, Veronica’s Garden, Lavender Blue, Susie O’s and Green & Bisque Clayhouse. Floral designer Drew Domenghini will give demonstrations throughout the day.

“We are grateful that the COVID-19 pandemic has vastly improved over the last several months, allowing us to do what we do best: gather family and friends together for a unique experience in a beautiful setting in support of music and the arts,” says Barbara Damerel, Pasadena Showcase House for the Arts 2020-21 president. “La Cañada Flintridge is a beautiful area and always a wonderful host city to Pasadena Showcase.” 

Guests will park at Descanso Gardens, 1418 Descanso Drive, La Cañada Flintridge, and take complimentary shuttles running throughout the day. They should expect to stroll across several acres and uneven terrain. Wheelchairs and walkers may not access all areas of these private estates; for questions regarding accessibility, call 714-442-3872. Guests will also be asked to comply with the latest COVID-19 guidelines. Hand sanitizer will be available throughout the grounds, and portable restrooms and other high-touch surface areas will be sanitized regularly. The capacity of the event has been limited.

The all-volunteer Pasadena Showcase House for the Arts has been supporting local music and arts programs since 1948. It has given more than $23 million to nonprofits, particularly through its Gifts & Grants program, in support of music education, scholarships, concerts and music therapy. 

Pasadena Showcase House for the Arts also supports the LA Philharmonic and its learning programs. 

The organization raises funds from its major benefit, the Pasadena Showcase House of Design — one of the country’s oldest, largest and most successful house and garden tours. 

Rehman-Dittu has been with the organization for 12 years and has seen it evolve. 

“We have some younger members who have infused Pasadena Showcase House for the Arts with new ideas, new directions and really positive changes,” she says. 

“We’re just implementing them now. We’ve had many longtime members. It’s a very dedicated group of women and men.”

June Bloom

WHEN: 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday, June 19

WHERE: Three houses in La Cañada Flintridge

COST: $60