Controversial Former Argentinean Tennis Pro & Model To Open Pachamama South American Eatery In Previous Cafe Cabaret Space In Normal Heights

March 20, 2019

Moving into the space that last housed Cafe Cabaret in San Diego's Normal Heights is Pachamama, a mostly plant-based South American restaurant from a controversial Argentinian former tennis pro and model.

Named after the Inca goddess synonymous with "Mother Earth", Pachamama is moving into the 2,058 square-foot restaurant unit that last housed Cafe Cabaret. The restaurant will serve a primarily vegan menu of America-South American fusion dishes made with local, organic ingredients and will offer health-focused breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as organic juices, smoothies, beer and wine. Although the eatery will devote a majority of its menu to plant-based dishes, a small amount of meat from sustainable and humanely-raised farms will be offered. Pachamama will have a minimalist decor with natural wood furnishings and an ample garden patio decorated with outdoor herb boxes, potted plants, and succulents.

"We want to give our customers delicious food that nourishes them from the inside out," explained Pachamama owner Maria Victoria Vannucci. "We create dishes made with love from whole food ingredients. We believe in the power of positive energy, and we want each person to feel those good vibes when they dine with us. We choose 100% organic. We strive to demonstrate transparency and quality. We have a vegetable-forward lunch and dinner menu--lots of salads, bowls, and bites. We’ll highlight a pasture-raised eggy brunch, along with smoothies and Acai bowls. Our libations feature fresh pressed organic juices, a coffee program, beer, and wine. The overall flavor motif is that of Peru and Argentina."

Maria Victoria Vannucci-Garfunkel
Courtesy of Instagram
Pachamama is the product of Maria Victoria Vannucci, a former tennis professional and model who has lived in Miami since 2016 after a series of controversies in her home country of Argentina that included backlash due to the dissemination of images of her and husband & media model Matias Garfunkel posing with hunted wild animals in Africa. The distribution of the photos of Vannucci with big game animals resulted in the businesswoman filing a successful lawsuit against both her hometown municipality and social media behemoth Twitter. Vannucci's allegedly estranged husband has also been charged for accusations of smuggling of millions of dollars worth of art. Vannucci hopes to start anew in San Diego and aims to make up for mistakes of the past, even vowing to donate a portion of profits to go toward protecting endagered animal species.

"First of all, I would like to thank you the opportunity to clarify what happened and extend my most sincere regret and apology over those pictures," commented Vannucci when asked about the controversial photos. "They were taken almost a decade ago when I was invited on a trip to Africa with my then boyfriend. He came from a family in which hunting was part of their lifestyle, and I posed in those pictures against my better judgment. To be clear, I never shot or killed any animals. I if I could turn back time and make a different decision, I would do it in a heartbeat. Unfortunately I cannot do that, but, in a way, I see this business as a living amends. We are primarily an organic, plant-based restaurant. We only use a small amount of animal protein from providers who have the highest standards of humane treatment. We will also give a portion of everything we earn to animal welfare and will publish those givings yearly so there is transparency in our commitment to being of service."

Pachamama hopes to open at 3737-3739 Adams Avenue in San Diego's Normal Heights as early as May 1. For more information, check out the draft menu below.