The Alternative Restaurant “Jalta,” Interview with Founder Augustinas Beinaravicius


Zverynas is an old wooden house, not a house to live in, but an alternative and in your face restaurant called Yalta. Enter Yalta and one can often accept a high, deep and wide smiled glance from a man, and make no mistake, this is not a visitor. This is the never short of ideas, open to life and to people, Yalta founder, Beinaravicius Augustinas. With Augustinas we talk about art, the twists and turns of fate, and of course, the colors of life.

Let's go back to the past ... Why did you decide to join the Academy of Fine Arts?

I grew up in a family of artists, and an artistic atmosphere. I have grown up in a liberal environment. I think this contributed to my courses I took in the Fine Arts Academy. I was most influenced by my father, who was my first drawing and painting teacher. Of course, I felt a little contribution from social attitudes - at that Soviet time, art niche was probably the only one where people could feel relaxed, it was space for self-expression. I will not hide my rebellious nature and encouraged many to take art.

Augustinas, you interned in Switzerland. What memories do you have from that time?

Although I studied painting, my thesis was in the actual execution of the art. My works began to intensively participate in exhibitions. It just so happened that I won a scholarship for 6 months in Switzerland. My time spent time there shaped my approach to life and culture. Studies have shown that art can be sociable and open. It moved me and changed the direction of my art. In addition, I was fascinated by the student-teacher ratio, which allowed students to find their creativity and direction. For me, this was lacking in Lithuania.

So as an artist, how did you get involved with business?

After studying in Zurich, I realized that a piece of art is only one of many constituents in a project, and all of my art was just one step away from the business model. Gaining some creative ideas in Switzerland, I turned to the artistic social project "Involved." This was to be a space where art projects came alive, and I started organizing events at the Cafe de Paris. Of course, there was stiff competition, but we had a lot of encouragement to make the events interesting. Later, I organized the alternative music and arts festival Culture Barn, which lasted 4 years. My next work project was Flash bar. The idea was to bring people together in unexpected places; a taxi park, the Taurus Mountain, an old abandoned stairwell, and do shows. I remember a flash bar where ballet dancers danced in the yard, and the evening turned balconies of apartment lounge’s into a theaters. Everything we have done spawn out of our ideas. All of these projects unintentionally carried me away into the business world.

"Jalta" – is the name of one of your artworks. How did the idea to open a restaurant come?

Before opening the "Jalta," this house, Zverynas, was a cafe, where two women worked. Once I came here, I realized that this is where I want to open a restaurant. The entire nightlife atmosphere reminded me of the early 70's spirit. It happened that my wish came true - at this point I founded "Jalta." Nostalgic 70's aesthetics gave me the key encouragement to create a "Jalta" interior, using the old authenticity with furniture that was perfectly suited and then restored the "Jalta." I wanted a restaurant that would emote not only historical, but also the social context of a seasonal food idea. All of these hopes helped me develop an alternative restaurant. I think places like Oslo are not over.

What kind of people come to your restaurant?

Previously, it has been particularly popular with artistic people. However, the audience is changing. Now we receive a range of people - from youth to elderly people. Of course, visitors come to Jalta depending on the food being served and restaurant events taking place. In general, Jalta invites those who are not indifferent to the liberal approach to life, those who enjoy the travel experience and appreciate quality.

Would the Jalta menu surprise visitors?

It's a fresh and seasonal food restaurant. All products are purchased and produced in the same day. The restaurant's menu is drawn from my personal experience which I gained traveling. I try to make dishes classic, such as Wellington Steak and Cordon Bleu. I also enjoy conceiving something new and unexpected, like Buckwheat Risotto with porcini mushrooms.

Have you uncovered the secret of how to succeed in maintaining an unconventional restaurant?

I confess, it is not easy to maintain such a restaurant because Jalta is dependent on the season, compounding the circumstances, and the fact that the restaurant is not located in the center of Vilnius. However, I am filled with ideas on how to liven up the restaurant’s life.  Yalta is still an unfinished project, which needs to be improved to keep the creative continuity.

Is it possible to say that restaurant management is also an art?

I can not, because the management is very far away from art. The very word "control" points to the need to manage finances, supplies, etc. It is not pleasant to your soul, and to artistic things. However, a true business also requires a creative surge, which is very necessary for survival these days. Also solidarity among the working people must exhist in business. Collective work is an important principle.

What do you think of the restaurant culture in Vilnius?

Rarely do I visit other restaurants, but I see a food culture standardization. Cross-linked or chain restaurants for me is totally alien and incomprehensible. But, of course, you can find places in the capital city that attract customers of all different faces, there can be something for everyone.

Do you think the art of Lithuania survives?

Already some time ago I felt like I was away from direct art. I can say that the art market in Lithuania is very narrow. Vilnius is very far from the art centers such as Paris and Zurich, where the artist can survive on creativity surrounding them.

What are your plans for living now?

First live permanently in the ideas of how to re-create "Jalta," like what new colors I can implement to bring her to life. After warm weather arrives, my head starts spinning ideas of what flowers should be planted in the restaurant environment, and how to make it original. Every season creates something new, and I think that such an alternative is needed for a restaurant in the city. But I dream to open a restaurant in the old town eventually. In my mind I already have a vision; you have to want something before you can bring it to life.

What was your 2012 year like?

Like every year, 2012 was a challenging year for me. Many of the difficulties stemmed from the business environment, which injured me. However, when 2013 came, I realized that everything had happened as it should. After all no one promised an easy road. This year, I try to live today, and keep the idea that the worst is in the past.


Vykinto g. 17A, LT-08117 Vilnius, Lithuania
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