A Restaurant

Orange County’s Most Timeless Restaurant

Originally built as a restaurant and service station, construction began on The Arches in 1925, the same year Coast Highway opened up from Huntington Beach to Newport Beach. Founded by John Vilelle and James Sturgeon, it was named by 10 year old Victor Chatten in a contest advertised by them in the Balboa Times. The distinct Mediterranean style of the original buildings, with arches and red tile roofs, quickly made it a recognizable staple of Newport Beach as it helped to shape and inspire the town in its early stages.

Beginning as a basic roadside diner, the restaurant and its menu flourished together, featuring steak, seafood and celebrities in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s, and was touted for its French food by the early 1970’s. And while its appearance and function has changed over time, its commitment to customer and community has not.

A Restaurant, Today

With its seasonally-inspired, contemporary new american menu, Chef Jonathan Blackford and his team showcase the restaurant’s relationships with many local farms and purveyors. His regularly changing menu consists of sophisticated dishes of land and sea that pair perfectly with A’s cozy, romantic and lively atmosphere. Visit our accolades page for a running tally of our accomplishments.

A Restaurant celebrates 90 incredible years!  Here’s how we honored such a momentous occasion.

Chef Jonathan Blackford

Where are you from?
I was born in Pittsburgh, PA where I lived for 21 years. Now I live in Huntington Beach but have also enjoyed living and working in San Diego and New York.

What do you do at A?
As the Executive Chef, I create our dishes and manage the kitchen.

Why do you love food?
The emotions that food can evoke are like nothing else. Food makes you use all of your senses at once. Flavors and scents can trigger memories of growing up, the place you came from, or events in your life. There are very few things that are a necessity of life but can also be enjoyed in such a way that they create a memorable experience.

What do you love about A Restaurant?
First, I have a great staff to work with and amazing ownership that support my visions. For me, A has created space for me to challenge myself and create memorable experiences for our guests and friends.

First restaurant job?
I worked as a dishwasher at 15 for about 3 months, then was promoted to a cook. Yolanda’s was the name of the restaurant. It was an Italian restaurant where we made all the sauces from scratch and all the pizza dough everyday. After about a year I had worked every station and became one of the main cooks with one of my best friends.

Favorite ingredient and why?
Salt.  Without it our food would be so bland.

Your favorite tattoo?
It’s a toss up between my food sleeve that is still a work in progress, or my tahitian tribal as it represents something my wife and I share and reminds me of her.

The best thing about living in Orange County
I love the healthy and active lifestyle. I can lift weights, go cycling, swim, and take a jog on the ocean all in the same day.

What do you do when you’re not working?
Workout and lift weights, hang with my wife, work on my car, spend time with my friends, and eat out A LOT!

Jordan Otterbein, Operating Partner

Where are you from?
I was born in Arcadia, but have lived here in Newport for 48 years now, it’s a special place, I love this community.

What do you do at A?
I ensure A delivers on its promise of impeccable service and a memorable dining experience.

Why do you love food?
I love well prepared, creative food. I enjoy the social, family aspect of sharing a great meal and breaking bread with friends and family.

Why do you love A?
A has been my favorite restaurant since the day it opened. To me, it has every component of a very good restaurant ( in my humble opinion ) – excellent cuisine, awesome staff throughout, a very loyal clientele and last but not least, an ambiance and feel that is tough to beat.

First restaurant job?
I was hired as a server at the old Victoria Station in Newport, which was a train car.

Favorite ingredient and why
SRIRACHA, I put it on almost everything – except our great steaks.

Restaurant pet peeve
When a server says “are you still working on that? ”

Favorite thing about Orange County
OC is the best because we are within 90 minutes of almost anything.

What do you do when you’re not working?
I have four daughters…we have a lot of fun together

McG, FOUNDING PARTNER

Where are you from?
I was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan but have lived in Newport Beach since I was 3. I attended Eastbluff Elementary, Lincoln Junior High, Corona del Mar High School and graduated from UCI – I have an “OC Education!”

You Are One Of The Original Founders Of “A” – What Was Your Vision For These Two Iconic Newport Beach Buildings When You And Your Partners Took Over In 2006?
I used to come to The Arches with all my friends, and we would all say to each other that it was the only old school Newport restaurant that was still hanging in there – lots of the other long-time spots had closed. So, when the opportunity presented itself to take over The Arches, we jumped at it, even though none of us knew anything about the restaurant business!

We wanted to ensure that “the old Arches property” would remain a restaurant, and most importantly that it would continue to be a restaurant we all love! When we started updating the structure (we ended up doing a complete renovation), we all agreed that the goal was to be sure that when our customers walked in, it still felt like it always felt… warm, relaxed, with a cool vibe – the place where you see people you know, and meet people you want to get to know. I’m proud of what we have accomplished here – I think we did what what set out to do, and that’s pretty cool.

Favorite Food?
That’s a slam dunk, Chef’s friday night special: Chicken Pot Pie

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