CAMBRIDGE — In 2008, Ava’s Pizzeria & Wine Bar opened in St. Michaels. Last month, owner Chris Agharabi opened his second location on Poplar Street in Cambridge.
“I like to open restaurants and I think we have a great product,” Agharabi said.
Agharabi wanted to open a location in Cambridge because of the town’s recent growth. Walking around downtown Cambridge, Agharabi said the corner building where Ava’s Pizzeria & Wine Bar would eventually open was dark and empty, surrounded by other businesses. He said his hope for for the restaurant is to add to the downtown atmosphere of Cambridge.
It also was important to pick a location close to St. Michaels, so Agharabi could manage both restaurants, he said.
“It’s 45 minutes from St. Michaels, so hopefully we’re grabbing some people that are already on their way to St. Michaels,” Agharabi said.
Agharabi said opening his Cambridge location has been difficult, facing new challenges. One thing learned from experience is creating a cohesive taste in food between his two locations, he said.
All of the ingredients at Ava’s Pizzeria & Wine Bar are made from scratch, including salad dressings, meatballs and cheeses. Agharabi said menu items are approached simplistically, with a focus on unique flavor.
“You already have kind of an expectation from customers, you have the curse of knowledge ... and you’re trying to duplicate something that seems to work,” Agharabi said.
Agharabi, originally from New York, is a graduate of George Washington University in Washington D.C. After college, Agharabi briefly worked as a chef at Persimmon in Bethesda. He also owns Theo’s Steaks, Sides & Spirits, another restaurant in St. Michaels.
Along with being an entrepreneur, Agharabi is also a philanthropist. Through Ava’s Pizzeria & Wine Bar, the business donates food, volunteer time and money to local organizations, such as St. Michaels High School and the Easton Choral Arts Society. Organizations apply for donations online at the restaurant’s website.
Last year, Ava’s Pizzeria & Wine Bar donated five dollars to local food banks for every pizza ordered with a specific topping.
“It’s not just giving, we don’t just want to give money, we want it to have the community involvement,” Agharabi said. “We have people from all over the country, believe it or not.”
Ava’s Pizzeria & Wine Bar employs locals, in and around the area, who receive healthcare benefits and a matching 401k plan. Agharabi said staff already has a good rapport with customers.
“Overall I think having that positive attitude that a lot of people seem to have here, has really been great,” Agharabi said.
Ava’s Pizzeria & Wine Bar is located at 543 Poplar Street and is open Wednesday Through Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. For information call 443-205-4350 or visit avaspizzeria.com.