The ambiance of any high-end restaurant is an extremely important item for restaurateurs to consider. Because every restaurant is unique in its own way, design treatments to be considered are basically limited only to the imagination of the designer. Natural stone still offers this limitless potential, but only if it is installed safely and correctly. The owners of Amaya La Jolla, a restaurant which recently debuted in trendy La Jolla, CA, clearly recognized this, and as a result, made major investments to give their new restaurant beautiful stone designs — both indoors and outdoors.

Designs for the 10,000-square-foot space are comprised of dazzling architectural detail and natural materials that include hand-carved natural stone varieties of marble as well as many other custom elements stretching from floor to ceiling. The owner of this seaside eatery, Manchester Financial, spared no expense in procuring the palette of natural stone. Many design templates that were used for the cutting and fabrication of the stonework — such as the columns and intricate medallions — were brought to Italy, where just about all of the stone for the restaurant was processed. Once selection was made and the meticulous stonework was completed, the various stone pieces were professionally packaged and then shipped from Italy to the jobsite in La Jolla, where they were put together like gigantic puzzles, piece by piece, which required careful planning.

Securing heavy stone wall pieces

“The custom cosmetic stone artwork that was used throughout the restaurant was very heavy,” stated Gerard Meyers, Laticrete Technical Representative. “Much of it was being anchored to the walls via mechanical methods, but to ensure that it would stay firmly attached, decisions were made to use adhesive material as well. Ultimately, Latapoxy® 310 Stone Adhesive was selected to give the extra protection that was absolutely needed.

There were stone chair rails, baseboards and wainscoting, all of which were heavy items, Meyers went on to explain. We knew that Latapoxy 310 Stone Adhesive would provide the necessary bond, but were concerned if the substrates used would be able to support the weight of these pieces, as well — without any de-lamination or being pulled apart. Using Latapoxy 310 Stone Adhesive on the back of each stone piece — ultimately worked fine with the chosen substrate, which was cement backerboard.

According to Meyer, Latapoxy 310 Stone Adhesive was an ideal choice to adhere heavy stone items to the walls because it is a two-component, high-strength epoxy adhesive, which is formulated for the spot bond fixing method of tile and stone installations on vertical surfaces. The product maintains its non-sag consistency at high temperatures up to 95 degrees Fahrenheit and withstands shock and vibration, according to the manufacturer, adding that it provides a durable permanent bond and will not deteriorate over time.

The intricate installation of the stonework and stone flooring was performed by Vascan Tile of Escondido, CA, under the direction of the firm’s president,
Julio Lara, and vice president/co-owner, Carlos Blanco. “This wasn’t an everyday project,” Blanco stated. “We were dealing with many custom stonework designs which were, in most cases, one-of-a-kind objects. If they weren’t anchored in place perfectly and securely, they could fall off and break. Not only would this cause problems in the restaurant, but trying to replace a precisely cut-to-size stone medallion that was crafted overseas by Italian artisans is a much more time-consuming and expensive task than replacing broken or de-laminated wall tile.”

A labor-intensive installation

A challenging aspect of this incredibly labor-intensive stone installation took place on the restaurant’s main entry, the largest of three archways on the front of the building which opens to a veranda hallway. “Stones which were installed around this entryway’s border came from Italy and were large and very heavy,” said Blanco. “They were 10 inches thick and 8 to 10 inches wide. Each piece weighed between 120 and 180 pounds, and all of these were used on this exterior wall. We used Latapoxy 310 Adhesive to cover 10% of each, and Latcirete 254 Platinum for 90% — in addition to the mechanical anchors.”

Amaya La Jolla Restaurant

La Jolla, CA

Job Conditions:

• Hand-carved natural stone varieties of marble as well as many other custom designs stretching from floor to ceiling

• Stonework shipped from Italy were put together like gigantic puzzles, piece-by-piece on the jobsite

• Heavy pieces of stone needed to be securely attached to the walls

Products Used:

• Latapoxy® 310 Stone Adhesive

• Laticrete Hydro Ban®

• Laticrete NXT Level

• Latcirete 254 Platinum

• A variety of high-performance
Laticrete polymer-fortified stone and tile installation products that were appropriate for the selected finishes


• Vascan Tile, Escondido, CA

Handcrafted stone medallions were affixed to the restaurant’s walls using the same process. Some of these weighed up to 700 pounds, according to Blanco.

Blanco described how the restaurant’s interior begins with an entry veranda leading to the tavern, which includes three rectangular dining areas. The floor of the tavern incorporated high-end, colorful stone material consisting of Jerusalem Gold, Absolute Black, Rosso Levanto, Empress Green and White Calacatta — both polished and honed — combined with light and dark terra-cotta tiles. “The designer was very specific that there were to be no clipped corners or borders,” he stated. “We had to make a floor plan which was perfectly in synch with his designs. And then, stick to it with no mistakes.”

“The veranda was my favorite part of the installation, and it clearly was the most challenging,” said Blanco. “There was a lot of floor preparation prior to installing any tile material. To begin with, we needed a crack-isolation membrane, so we used Laticrete Hydro Ban® on the entire hallway. Electric floor heating was then put down. From there, to make sure the floor was completely level, we covered the heating element with Laticrete NXT Level, a newer underlayment product which performed just as promised. After it quickly cured, we used a variety of high-performance Laticrete polymer-fortified stone and tile installation products that were appropriate for the selected finishes — all of which was custom cut by Vascan Tile. This included an inset ‘Arabian rug’ created with 4- x 4-inch travertine tiles and intricate borders of Empress Green and Rosso Levanto.”

The entrance to the veranda included six stone columns of custom-cut Calacatta marble with bases of Michaelangelo and Empress Green marble. These were installed using a combination of mechanical anchors and Latapoxy 310 Stone Adhesive. Because these columns were shipped directly to La Jolla, CA, from Italy, some minor breakage occurred. “We had to restore these stone columns, so we simply used Latapoxy 310 Stone Adhesive for this function as well,” explained Blanco. “We were pleased, as was our client, that we were able to restore the columns to their original polished form.”