Meals on Wheels

Tino Vargas, delivering along the bustling Boulevard for more than adecade, has become something of a local icon.

  • Category
    Eat & Drink
  • WRITTEN BY
    SUSAN SPILLMAN
  • PHOTOGRAPHED BY
    MICHAEL BECKER


You may not know the name Tino Vargas, but if you travel Ventura Boulevard in Encino during the workweek, you’ve probably seen him. Quite frankly, you can’t miss him. First off, he is dressed in rather unusual attire: a snappy black beret, vest and pants, and a bright, royal blue tie. Secondly, he is riding a rather ordinary bike in extraordinary traffic. And lastly, he doesn’t seem a bit fazed as he calmly makes his daily deliveries, weaving delicately in between cars and pedestrians, for the popular health-conscious Nuts & Berries Cafe, located on the ground floor of a local office building. “I’ve had some close calls,” he chuckles.

For the past 11 years, 53-year-old Tino has peddled the quarter-mile stretch of Ventura, between Hayvenhurst Blvd. and Sepulveda Blvd., delivering organic coffee, egg white omelets, fresh fruit smoothies, and an assortment of homemade soups, wraps and salads to neighborhood office buildings, apartment houses and private homes.

Despite the occasional torrential downpour, triple-digit August temperatures and twice being knocked off his bike by cars, Tino hasn’t missed a single day of work since starting at Nuts & Berries in 2006. He also serves as the café’s inventory manager.

The friendly Tino, who is married with four sons, says, “I like everything about my job. It’s good exercise, and the people know me. They drive by ‘beep beep’ and call out ‘Hi Tino. How are you?’”

“He delivers with his heart, he delivers with a smile, and he delivers with his soul,” says café owner and chef Arash Majlessi.

Bike delivery was an original part of the café’s concept, according to Arash. “I wanted to bring coffee and food to the secretaries, lawyers and executives who are stuck behind their desks and are also health conscious,” he explains. “The bike fits us. We’re local and eco-friendly.”

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