Growing up, Chris Pastena spent a lot of time around the dining table at his grandmother’s house, sharing food with his loved ones. Whenever he thinks of family, he thinks of food and dining, and as a result, he created his three restaurants, Lungomare, Calavera and Chop Bar, to offer people places to come together with their community and families.
Originally from New Jersey and New York, Chris moved to San Francisco and then to Oakland in 2004. When asked about his reason to move to the Bay Area, he explains, “The East Coast is different. Everyone lives a fast-paced lifestyle, and I feel like I am always a step behind. The Bay Area is the perfect pace for me.”
In 2009, Chris opened his first restaurant in Oakland, Chop Bar, in the heart of Jack London Square. He states, “Jack London did not have a place for the community to congregate. Chop Bar is exactly that, a neighborhood restaurant where everyone can gather with one another.”
With Chop Bar’s success, Chris started Lungomare, also in Jack London, with an emphasis on Italian cuisine. He wanted to transport people to coastal Italy with variety of seafood dishes. His most recent restaurant is Calavera. Opened in 2015, Calavera is a regional Mexican restaurant, located along Broadway in Downtown Oakland with the intent of paying homage to the food and culture of Mexico.
“These restaurants are my form of expression. All of them run a theme of family and community gathering, but each one of them brings a different experience to its customers,” he says.
Chris has been working with Main Street Launch to fund his businesses since he opened Chop Bar. He shares: “My experience working with Main Street Launch has been wonderful and easy, and the process is much simpler than with traditional bank loans.”
Chris offers advice to aspiring entrepreneurs: “You need to understand the risks before starting a business, and you have to be willing to do anything and everything for it to be successful.”
When you are in Oakland, don’t forget to come visit one of his restaurants and enjoy the feeling of community while you share the experience with your loved ones.