Today we’d like to introduce you to Natalia Ostensen.
Natalia, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I lost my only brother, Andrei, in a car accident in 2005. He and I had always talked about opening a restaurant or bar one day, so it seemed like the right way to honor his memory. Looking back, it was a crazy idea since I knew very little about the restaurant business (other than working as a hostess in college!), but love will make you do some crazy things sometimes.
We built and opened Andrei’s Conscious Cuisine & Cocktails in 2009 and thankfully we have been thriving ever since. Andrei had an eye condition called Retinitis Pigmentosa which often causes severe blindness. He was very committed to nutrition as healing and prevention, so I knew that the menu needed to focus on organic, local ingredients.
In addition, the restaurant operates as a non-profit, donating all net proceeds to the Andrei Foundation (andreifoundation.com), which supports many local, national and international charities. This is what we are all about: bringing joy to people however we can, because that is what Andrei did.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Learning the business had its struggles. It’s no secret that the restaurant industry is a difficult business. It is tons of fun, as well, but it’s not for the faint of heart. Finding the right staff has been critical to our success/concept and that took time and effort, but it’s wonderful to finally have an amazing team from top to bottom.
Please tell us about Andrei’s Conscious Cuisine & Cocktails.
We have been recognized for several of our dishes: namely our burger and fresh-cut pommes frites (fries). They have both won numerous local awards.
Also, in 2014, we won the Nature Conservancy’s “Nature’s Plate” award which we are very proud of. This is an award for LA/OC’s favorite “green” restaurant and was voted on by all Nature Conservancy members. With our commitment to responsible food sourcing and business practices, this was a big honor for us to win.
We also recently opened our second concept: Dandelion Conscious Café + Catering, which is a more casual concept and focuses on catering. This has given us a new platform to “spread kindness” (and good food!).
If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
Not much, really… it has been a ride, but it all lead to the right place.
- Address: 2607 Main Street, Irvine, CA 92614
- Website: AndreisRestaurant.com
- Phone: 949-387-8887
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: @andreisirvine
- Facebook: @AndreisConsciousCuisine