Mixing food and art with purpose

William Cervantes is not only the owner of restaurant Noche Azul. He's an artist who sells his work in the locale, where a portion of proceeds go toward cancer research. Tammy Murga/ The Signal

Art isn’t just prominent in the name — it’s in the food, across the walls and in their story.

Coming to the Santa Clarita Valley by way of Simi Valley, the Cervantes family took a chance in starting a new chapter, to bring the SCV a Mexican restaurant that promises to offer a unique cultural experience.

Noche Azul, located at 23115 Lyons Ave. in Newhall, might be easy enough to miss when driving down the road, but unforgettable the moment you step inside. The restaurant mixes Spanish, Moroccan, Aztec and Mayan features through a decor that includes arched entryways, Spanish-style columns, ironwork and an Aztec calendar currently being painted onto the ceiling.

“If I’m going to do something, it has to be something different and not your typical Mexican restaurant,” owner William Cervantes said. “There’s nothing wrong with being typical, but we wanted to bring a new vibe.”

Servantes pauses and holds his wife, Elizabeth, and daughter Danielle, who help him run the business, adding he “has a purpose. I have a purpose for this place to also be an art gallery.”

William Cervantes is not only the owner of restaurant Noche Azul. He’s an artist who sells his work in the locale, where a portion of proceeds go toward cancer research. Tammy Murga/ The Signal

Ever since he was in grade school, Cervantes was known as the artist. Art is his passion, particularly painting landscapes. He knew he had to incorporate his work somehow within the restaurant.

And he did. Spread across one of the restaurant’s walls is a massive landscape of a paradise-like destination with rich waterfalls and foliage. Other walls are adorned by large portraits of music legends such as Jimi Hendrix, David Bowie and Prince, not in flesh but in skull candy versions of the artists.

These and other works also are available for sale at Noche Azul, where a portion of proceeds go directly to organizations such as City of Hope, Los Angeles Children’s Hospital and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital for cancer research.

“I’m a believer in supporting that kind of cause because I was threatened with AML (acute myeloid leukemia),” said Cervantes. “I was given three or six months to live when I was diagnosed 17 years ago. I thought I was pretty much done, but I had faith that this thing wasn’t going to beat me.”

Doctors told him that after seven years of no re-occurrence, he would most likely be free of cancer. Today, Cervantes feels stronger and excited about a new outlook in life alongside his business partners: his family and friends.

“We’re really proud of my husband. He’s come a long way,” said Elizabeth as she holds her husband’s  hand.

Mexican restaurant Noche Azul on Lyons Avenue in Newhall is now open. Tammy Murga/ The Signal

“(The restaurant is a) celebration to help us grow closer as a family,” Danielle said, “and create a chain-like reaction in the food industry and to local businesses around about giving back.”

Aside from art on the walls, customers receive masterpieces on their plates, too. Noche Azul chef Juan Perez worked with the family to bring a unique Mexican menu to Santa Claritans focus on flavor and delivery using fresh and natural ingredients.

Customers can expect to receive plates full of color, much like Cervantes’ artwork. The Chicharrones A La Azul dish is a perfect example. The fried pork skins stand out, alongside a mixed selection of pickled nopales and red onions, smoked tomatillo sauce, guacamole and guava preserve. Or the Pato con Mole Rojo, which is duck leg confit with spicy red mole, cippolini onions and roasted cauliflower.

“We wanted flavor, texture, color on our food,” said Cervantes. “When you see a plate, you will eat that plate with your eyes first.”

Since opening on Jan. 24, Noche Azul has left multiple customers impressed, said Elizabeth. There’s still a lot the business will incorporate, such as a paint-and-drink event on April 1, but they’re happy with their start, the family said.

Noche Azul is located at 23115 Lyons Ave, Newhall, and its website is nochezsulrestaurant.com.  

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