When I was younger lad, back in those pre-cellphone days, even before pagers were a common sight, summers meant long, lazy days at the beach, eating too much pizza from Perry’s and staying up late hanging out with a group of friends being silly as we planned how to take over the world and how it would all be better when we were in charge.

Times have changed dramatically since those mid-80s summer nights listening to Duran Duran, drinking Bartles and Jaymes purloined from our parents garage refrigerators and trying to figure out dating life. These days it’s more likely I’m listening to jazz, drinking water and still trying to figure out dating life.

But the joy of sitting with a group of friends a warm summer night, chatting about what’s going on, hasn’t lessened. In fact, it has increased.

This past weekend I was in Riverside meeting with one of the experts for my documentary about men who are victims of domestic violence, and after dinner we had a lovely time walking around downtown, finally settling on a 1920’s-styled nightclub. We just chatted about life, the universe and everything over some cool refreshments. It was positively lovely.

Saturday night though was a much more elaborate affair. It was the one-year anniversary party for Rocco’s Cheesecake. Johnny Rocco Johnson opened his gourmet cheesecake store just over a year ago, and it’s been a gangbuster experience for any us who love to have unique foodie experiences. His creative use of ingredients have included some winners like the Red Velvet Cake and the Orange Creamsicle, which are both amazing.

Because he’s a friend of mine, I get to suggest crazy cake ideas, and then occasionally he’ll try them out to see if there’s an audience. My idea for a Kugel Cheesecake was a winner, and we wont discuss the loser ideas I’ve had.

Johnny decided to celebrate his one-year anniversary by throwing a party to thank all of those who have helped out this year to make his dream a reality. He ordered a ton o’food, invited everyone who’s ever been to his shop or not, to come and enjoy a selection of both cheesecakes and hand passed dessert samples.

There were about 75-100 people throughout the night who came to share in the good fortune and hard work that Johnny has put in at his shop on Pico across from the College. Located on the corner of 17th and Pico, the parking lot was a beehive of cars going in and out all night as friends, customers and new friends came by.

This was one of those wonderful nights of being able to sit and relax as I chatted with both friends and new acquaintances and tried some of the many gourmet cakes that I’ve not sampled before. Johnny’s great staff, Mary Grace and his son Taylor, were helping to pass out samples of Cherries Jubilee, Orange Creamsicle and the Mary Grace (which is a chai tea cheesecake with a pumpkin sweet cream and crystallized ginger).

Johnny created an evening of community, which is the key to his success. On Yelp he’s all about sharing the experience. On Facebook he’s all about sharing the pictures of his latest creations. It’s working for him. He’s developed a huge following of international tourists. Swedish tourists are evidently a big fan of his.

The night was warm and cozy and I had the chance to catch up with friends like Nancy Linehan Charles who runs Salty Shakespeare, they do flashmob Shakespeare around town. Anne Pearson was there, representing Free Ride and touting her company’s advertising services. I enjoyed chatting with Taylor Johnson, Johnny’s son, who’s a delightful young man, about how much fun he’s having working with his dad and learning how to run a business.

Summertime is a grand time to come together. We all love those lazy summer nights of hanging out in the warm evening, it was a lovely night, and I want to say thank you to Johnny for bringing us all together to sample his wares and creating a delightful evening.

David Pisarra is a Los Angeles Divorce and Child Custody Lawyer specializing in Father’s and Men’s Rights with the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist. He welcomes your questions and comments. He can be reached at dpisarra@pisarra.com or 310/664-9969.You can follow him on Twitter @davidpisarra

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