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Robert Simon

Episode 093

Sustainability in Pasadena Restaurants

Robert Simon was born at Huntington Hospital in Pasadena. He is a Cal (UC Berkley) graduate and a Chez Panisse alum. He is inspired by all things sustainable and organic when it comes to food. Robert has judged wine for 12 years and operated two restaurants in Napa Valley plus four different locations in San Gabriel Valley. He has two kids, Max and Rachel, 27 and 28 respectively. Robert and Deborah have been married for 31 years and operate and own Bistro 45 for 33 years.

As the proprietor of Bistro 45 Robert creates memorable dishes while always featuring the highest quality “ranch to restaurant” proteins and organic produce. His chefs are dedicated to providing all guests with “food made with love” which pair greatly with their extensive wine list. They believe in catering to their customers in order to provide them with a personal and extraordinary dining experience. Bistro 45 is the perfect spot for celebrations or for a special night out.

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Robert Simon Quotes

  • “We are a truly unique dining experience in Pasadena, and it was that way for several years – 40 years all together. What we try to do set ourselves apart is this – have integrity number one, be innovative number two, and be true to your mission number three.”
  • “Our goal is to bring out the pureness and quality of those flavors to people without over impacting it with sauce or other ingredients that would mask it.”
  • “The restaurant business afforded me the ability also [to spend time with children]. Being a proprietor, no ones makes my schedule but me and my wife, so that we can spend as much time with at those formative years as possible.”
  • “I really believe that the world is divided into two halves of people: those that get it, and those that don’t. Those who get human nature, equality, sense of right and wrong – all those things. You get it or you don’t.”
  • “You talk about sports and how teammates have this great affinity for each other, you feel like family, it really does become like a family. And that’s really what the restaurant has become. And if we can extend that to the people who support us, then it’s a full circle.”
  • Robert Simon was born in Pasadena
  • Robert is a restauranteur who has a strong passion for community
  • Originally, Robert wanted to own a hotel because he loves serving people and providing hospitality and an amazing experience
  • Robert owns Bistro 45
  • Robert emphasizes meals in a pure form, rather than adding a bunch of potentially irrelevant ingredients

What is Robert’s connection to the San Gabriel Valley?

Robert was born at Huntington Hospital in Pasadena. He was raised in Northern California, but he was born in SGV so he will always have that connection.


What sets Robert’s restaurants apart?

What he always strives to do is 3 main things:

  1. To have integrity
  2. To always stay innovative
  3. To stray true to their main mission and goals


Their mission is to bring food by way of the best possible ingredients to Pasadena and present it in a way that makes it very unique. And while Robert emphasizes ingredients, he tries not to add too many additional ingredients that take away from the meal as a whole.

He refuses any artificial ingredients, fillers, preservatives, colors, etc. Everything is top of the food chain.

Where did this passion for service and food purity come from?

This has always stuck with Robert and been a part of his mindset and mission.

Robert was very influenced by Alice Waters. It is a bonafide and enriching experience to have a plate that is curated with powerful ingredients that never need to be overshadowed. It appeals to your eyes and is the perfect amount of food.

What did Robert dream of doing when he was younger?

When Robert was young, he wanted to be a father and also an owner of a hotel. Literal dreams. He imagined himself greeting people in the lobbies, in the dining room, and at the bar. Shaking hands and making sure everyone was having a good time.

Robert worked at restaurants while in school for English and theater, and he realized he always ate well during this time period.

More and more, he realized how satisfied he was being able to take care of a table and he noticed people would request him again.

After touring vineyards in Europe and working there, he decided he was very serious about this potential career.

His father was a savvy business person, and his dad offered him the opportunity to run the front end of a restaurant and his dad would teach him everything on the backend.

So many restaurants fail, how did Robert make his restaurants survive?

Execution is key, strong business plans, and putting out a restaurant style that no one else has ever seen.

They decided to create a fine dining restaurant that was priced about 25% below their competitors, which gave everyone a brand new sense of cuisine and opportunity.

How has the restaurant business and running a restaurant changed over the years for Robert Simon?

The only part that has been easier for Robert of the years is being able to read people and anticipate needs. It is all about hospitality.

Hospitality and truly caring about a customer’s meal and experience is critical.

What are Robert’s plans for the future of Bistro 45?

Robert’s biggest plan is celebrating the 33rd year of being in business. COVID-19 canceled many celebrations, and Robert is excited to get back to normalcy and celebrations.

To celebrate, they are inviting about 100 guests and there will be family style food and musical guests. He is very excited.

They are honoring Pedro, who has been with them for 40 years, one gentleman named Jose who was their very first busboy, and Miguel who has been around for 33 years. A fourth person, who Robert knows cannot make it to the celebration, was a server.

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Robert Simon

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