Urth Caffe, a chic, health-conscious line of restaurants with locations across the Orange and Los Angeles counties, is known for its Instagrammable coffee, healthy pastries and $20 salads.
It’s also known for long lines, and the queue in front of Urth Caffe is no exception. The cafe in the Orange Plaza and its popularity might be the new norm, said Matt Tobey, director of operations for the restaurant chain.
“We’re cautious because we’ve only been open for a few weeks but realistically, this is how busy we stay,” Tobey said.
Tobey, who oversees operations at all Urth locations, is now focusing on Orange. The store conducted at least 5,000 interviews for 100 associate spots at the store, Tobey said.
The chain has several locations, including ones in Laguna Beach, Beverly Hills and Santa Monica. It was founded in the 1980s by Shallom and Jilla Berkman.
Dory Ann Carter, a senior communications studies major, says she doesn’t mind the wait for the restaurant. “Any Urth I’ve been to I’ve had to wait in line, so it’s normal,” she said.
Owners and managers of surrounding businesses like neighboring Starbucks manager Matteo Gutierrez hopes Urth’s opening will lead to increased business. He told The Panther that some patrons were driving long distances “just to come to Urth.”
Tippy Weeranarawat, the owner of the Filling Station Cafe on North Glassell Street, thinks the cafe might bring in traffic for other businesses in the Plaza, which is home to several boutiques and specialty stores.
“It brings new types of people and new types of food,” Wee said. “All the antique stores can benefit from that.”
Shallom and Jilla Berkman, who have made a habit of purchasing historic buildings for Urth locations, knew they wanted one of the restaurant’s next locations to be in Orange, the couple told The Panther in September. But they ran into construction obstacles, some of which delayed opening by several months.
“The second floor (of the building) was condemned since the ‘60s because it wasn’t earthquake safe,” Tobey said. “There were old doors and writing on the walls from when it was a hotel.”
The restaurant was also vandalized at least three times, when rocks were thrown through its earthquake-proof windows. Each incident cost around $20,000 to fix, and the windows now use a protective coating.
“Thankfully, we’re well-received,” Tobey said. “As busy as we are, this is what the other stores are at.”