With its hip vibe, eclectic décor and sweet and savory crepes, Casa Vittore’s recent opening on Yakima Avenue has become the “foodie” talk of the town.
Originally from Guadalajara, owner Victor Renteria, 39, moved to Colima in his early 20s after his parents lost their bakery — the result of an economic crash in Mexico. Colima became home to the Renteria family.
But with dreams of a career in radio, Renteria went to school at the Universidad de Colima and graduated in 2000 with a bachelor’s degree in communications.
Three years later, he moved to Yakima to pursue his career as a disc jockey. Shortly thereafter, he met and married his wife, Rosalinda.
Renteria worked for Radio Tequila, a local Spanish pop/rock radio station, for two years before moving to California in 2006. He had hoped for career advancement in a bigger city, but after a short, six-month stay, he rejoined his wife back in Yakima.
Upon his return, he worked as a real estate agent for Remax, learning the ins and outs of the real estate industry. It was then that he developed an interest in business ownership and began dreaming of a new adventure.
In 2010, Renteria turned his dream into a reality, when he opened his first café in his hometown of Colima — Casa Vitorre. Casa means “house” in Spanish, and Vitorre is an amalgam of his first and last name. Located in a two-story house just down the road from a Starbucks, he never imagined it would take off like it did. “I started with little [espresso] machines,” he said. “After three months all those machines had burned.” As Renteria lived with one foot in Colima and one in Yakima, business continued to flourish. So did his dreams.
After the success of Casa Vittore in Mexico, Renteria decided it was time to open in the U.S. He had originally set his mind on San Francisco. But he was persuaded by his 7-year-old son, Victor, who wanted him nearby, so he decided to open locally.
“It was for my kids,” says Renteria, who also has daughter Carly, 11, and son Diego, 5.
In October 2012, while banking across the street from where the Tux Shop was once located on Yakima Avenue, Renteria noticed the empty storefront and immediately made a call. Then everything fell into place. “It came to me,” he says. “I am so blessed.”
Renovations began immediately, inspired by warm and rustic design elements Renteria gathered while visiting San Francisco and Seattle. Renteria’s good friend and right-hand man, Carlos Retana, helped make his vision a reality. Retana, 40, designs and constructs furniture under the name Retana Rustics. His hand-crafted pieces can be seen throughout the cafe. “Every table has a personality of their own,” says Renteria.
Renteria and Retana met nine years ago while Renteria was promoting nightclubs with the radio station. They instantly became friends. “Carlos plays the guitar. He is a really great singer,” boasts Renteria of his friend’s mellow acoustic abilities. Although Retana had only played for friends and family, Renteria encouraged him to play in front of a crowd. He had his first solo show at Pete’s, before picking up a regular gig at Las Margaritas.
Renteria gives his friends credit for their talent and advice to him — their influence can be seen on the menu and the wine list. “Most of the things you can see here are because of my friends,” he says.
Throughout the year, Renteria will travel back and forth between Colima and Yakima, while Retana manages the cafe full-time. And with the opening of Yakima’s Casa Vittore, Retana will once again grace the stage.
As for the menu, Renteria’s wife, Rosalinda, was its inspiration. Shortly after moving back to to Yakima in 2006, the couple celebrated their anniversary. Renteria wanted to make crepes for the occasion, hoping to impress his wife.
“The first time, it wasn’t that good,” he admits. But with continued efforts, he mastered the art of both sweet and savory varieties.
Crepes are one of Casa Vittore’s main menu items, along with paninis and salads. Prices for paninis and crepes range from $7-10. “Everything is based on cheese, and our homemade sauces and chipotle,” Retana says of the café’s savory crepes, which are also filled with a choice of chicken, ham or bacon. Patrons looking for something sweet might try the Café de Olla — one of its specialty coffees with chocolate, cinnamon, piloncillo (unrefined sugar) and, of course, a “secret ingredient.” They also carry local wines, a selection of beer and some sipping liquors for a nightcap.
“We love cooking, the kitchen is ours,” says Retana. Adds Renteria, “We are very excited to have everybody here — to enjoy the ambiance.”