Chef Vartan Abgaryan has found himself a new gig — or, rather, an old gig. The longtime Angeleno, known for rising through the ranks at restaurants like the now-closed Cliff’s Edge and Downtown sky-high dinner spot 71Above, is now heading to Orange County to run one of Newport Beach’s most well-regarded restaurant empires as a corporate executive chef.
The move to join River Jetty Restaurant Group is actually something of a homecoming for Abgaryan, who previously worked with ownership there between 2009 and 2012, much of that spent as executive chef of historic A Restaurant on Coast Highway. The group, run by movie producer Joseph ‘McG’ Nichol and Jordan Otterbein, also runs A Market in Newport Beach and CDM Restaurant and Bar in Corona Del Mar.
Together, Abgaryan and the River Jetty team will open a new, fourth restaurant called A Crystal Cove at the Crystal Cove Shopping Center. Reps for the restaurant tell Eater that the planned project will span from staples like cacio e pepe and spicy yellowfin tuna to a lively bar program that runs well into the evening. A Crystal Cove will open sometime this fall.
The move to Newport Beach is just the latest turn for Abgaryan, who spent much of the past two-plus years opening restaurants on Los Angeles’s broad Westside. Yours Truly, which closed last fall as a result of the pandemic, was Abgaryan’s culinary home, though he also operated — for a time — a parking lot-only restaurant across the street called Post Script on Abbot Kinney. Abgaryan is still involved with modern Mexican restaurant Nueva in Venice, and recently acted as a guest chef in residence at Hotel Cerro in San Luis Obispo.