John Ghoukassian is gone but his legacy goes on.

The founder of a family business that still owns and operates Bistango and Bayside Restaurant, he passed away in March 2021 but his children, son Marc Ghoukassian and daughter Karyn Ghoukassian, have followed in his footsteps. They are launching Press & Moka Coffeehouse, a European-style casual coffee shop, slated to open Monday, June 6 in Irvine.

And they’re  announcing that their father is being honored with a Distinguished Citizen Award by the City of Irvine, to be presented at a city council meeting scheduled for June 14. The council established the award and the Wall of Recognition located at the Colonel Bill Barber Marine Corps Memorial Park in 2006.

Restaurateur John Ghoukassian’s legacy continues with a posthumous civic award and the opening of Press & Moka Coffeehouse, coming Monday, June 6 to Irvine. Seen here, John Ghoukassian, center, with his children, Karyn Ghoukassian, left, and Marc Ghoukassian, right, on the patio at Bistango in Irvine. (File photo by Jebb Harris, Orange County Register/SCNG)

“Our dad is watching over us right now and we know he is very proud,” Karyn Ghoukassian said of the award in an announcement. “He must be smiling at us.” (Karyn and Marc Ghoukassian invite everyone to share memories of their father by emailing

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Ghoukassian was a pioneer in elevating fine dining in Orange County. Throughout his career, he remained a leader in the local restaurant industry. He opened Bistango in Los Angeles in 1984, moving it to Irvine three years later. He founded Bayside in 1999 with Marc, a graduate of San Jose State. Karyn joined the family business after graduating from UCLA.

Now his children are following their own vision, creating a new concept for the brand with Press & Moka. Located adjacent to the Airport Tower building on Von Karman Avenue, it’s right across from Bistango. The Ghoukassians have partnered with Caffè Vergnano, Italy’s oldest roastery, established in 1882. Press & Moka will offer grab-and-go European-style salads, sandwiches, pastries and other specialties made with imported meats and cheeses. Freshly roasted and brewed coffee will be its centerpiece.

“Press & Moka Coffeehouse was inspired by growing up in Cannes, in the Southeast of France, and close to Italy — this is the reason for the Italian Moka Pot and French Press design and motif,” Marc Ghoukassian said. He invites regulars of his restaurants and newcomers to give it a try. “It reminds me of sitting in a cafe along the streets of France or Italy, and I hope others will enjoy the ambiance as much as we do.”

Find it: Press & Moka Coffeehouse, 18881 Von Karman Ave., Suite 175, Irvine,

Open: Regular hours begin on Monday, June 6.  7 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Monday-Friday, and 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday.

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