Adventures of a Restauranteur

SEP 10, 2014 – NOV 17, 2018

Aroha (ˈɑːrɒhə) (uh-row-ha) — love, compassion, or affectionate regard. [Māori]
Aroha is a classy casual restaurant offering a New Zealand inspired menu and personalized hospitality. Aroha is founded and solely owned by award winning chef, Gwithyen Thomas, and his wife Justine. Gwithyen and Justine met and fell in love through his cooking while she and her family were vacationing in New Zealand. The restaurant is dedicated to Gwithyen’s mother, Janet, and Justine’s grandfather, Harold, who both passed away in 2013. In honor of their family members, as well as their love for each other, they named the restaurant Aroha, meaning love and compassion in Mãori.

Back in New Zealand, whether surrounded by the backdrop of the Auckland harbour or the rolling hills of green grass and the smell of feijoa trees, locals are accustomed to fresh and organic meals at home and at the local restaurants. In one of Auckland City’s top restaurants or at the nearby pizza bar, dining out is not just another outing but a one-of-a-kind Kiwi experience complete with top quality ingredients, beautifully plated dishes, and most importantly, an environment designed for the laid back Kiwi lifestyle. Many restaurants flaunt their trustworthy kitchens with open passes, allowing the customers to view the chefs from their seats. While a typical United States kitchen relies on pepper and other strong seasonings, the Kiwi chef prepares dishes designed to emphasize the natural flavor of the food and allow those flavors to pop.

Our menu consists of locally sourced handgrown and predominantly organic produce; free-range and grass-fed organic meats; and fresh seafood that’s less than 48 hours out of the water flown in directly from New Zealand. We are dedicated to providing a welcoming and safe environment for all of our customers, including those with allergy restrictions, whether they’re gluten free, vegetarian, vegan, lactose intolerant, low sodium, etc.

With a wine list mostly comprised of sustainable, organic, or biodynamic wines, Aroha is proud to be the first restaurant worldwide to exclusively offer only New Zealand wines by the glass, as well as a range of local and international wines by the bottle. Our beer list features delicious beers only from New Zealand. For those looking for a non-alcoholic New Zealand adventure, Aroha is proud to exclusively provide a range of speciality sparkling and still hand blended drinks from New Zealand, with unique hand picked ingredients. The flavors include Elderflower, Blackcurrant, Feijoa, Sauvignon Blanc & Saffron, Elderflower & Green Currant, Ginger Lemon & Honey, and Apple & Pear. To complete the dining experience, we offer New Zealand’s award-winning Antipodes Artisan Still and Sparkling Water, which comes from the deepest and highest quality ground water in New Zealand.

Our restaurant’s classy-casual layout is designed to reflect New Zealand’s popular laid back culture, and allow guests to relax as Kiwi music plays softly in the background. Our intimate interior features a fully open kitchen, allowing guests to view the chefs from their seats…and say hello! The surrounding decor includes our custom 10 foot long teal water feature, glacial colored ceilings, and a beautiful painting of Auckland City. Our spacious surrounding outdoor patio includes two large shade sails, teal couch seating, and three relaxing waterfalls. In preparation for California weather, our patio not only lights up at night from our pyramid heat lamps, but is also surrounded by our cooling misting sytem ready for hot days.
30990 Russell Ranch Rd, Westlake Village, CA 91362
© 2014 Aroha Restaurant.
The owners of Aroha Restaurant: Gwithyen and Justine Thomas
Restaurant owners, Gwithyen and Justine Thomas, on the cover of Westlake Magazine's Food & Wine Edition, July 2014
Gwithyen and Justine Thomas on the cover of Westlake Magazine’s Food & Wine Edition, July 2014


  1. 3/26/14 – “We’re Opening Our First Restaurant”
  2. 3/27/14 – “Finding Our Location”
  3. 3/29/14 – “The First Day of Construction”
  4. 3/30/14 – “The Many Tales of Our Customer Service Experiences (as the Customers)”
  5. 3/31/14 – “Thank You, Pa and Athena for Helping Us Follow Our Dreams”
  6. 4/06/14 – “Restaurant Floor Plans…and Wait, We’re Taking a Vacation?”
  7. 5/04/14 – “Let the Construction Begin! PLUS: Anzac Day and Our Wine Tasting!”
  8. 6/09/14 – “Huge Updates as Aroha Moves Forward”
  9. 6/19/14 – “We’re Going to Be in Westlake Magazine!! (Plus: Some Major Changes)”
  10. 6/27/14 – “Light Speed Ahead!”
  11. 7/05/14 – “Our Westlake Magazine Cover & In Other News: Interior, Meetings, Phone Calls, Repeat”
  12. 7/25/14 – “We’re Opening in September!”
  13. 8/02/14 – “Entering ‘Little Blossom’ Mode”
  14. 8/11/14 – “Floors Are In, Sign is Up!…What’s Left?”
  15. 8/23/14 – “One of the Best Days of Our Lives”
  16. 9/13/14 – “An Incredible Week Thanks to An Incredible Team”
  17. 9/30/14 – “The Yelp Effect”
  18. 11/02/14 – “Breeders’ Cup Taste of the World 2014”
  19. 11/10/14 – “The First Busy Weekend”
  20. 1/18/15 – “Our Craziest Night Yet”
  21. 1/31/15 – “This Valentine’s Day…”
  22. 8/7/15 – “Our Aroha Summer”
  23. 9/11/15 – “Our One Year Anniversary, Year in Review, and Meeting Lorde!”
  24. 12/13/15 – “Aroha’s New Years Eve Menu & Our Special Announcement”
  25. 2/5/16 – “The Rollercoaster of Confidence”
  26. 11/5/17 – “Go. Go. Go. (Because No Matter What, You Have to Try”

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