| Print Story | E-Mail Story | Font Size

Goodbye Cottage, Hello Urth

Opening "Urth," and restoring Laguna Beach's landmark "Cottage" restaurant

An attention to detail, far right, strives to revive the original bungalow atmosphere.

The long-awaited opening of Orange County’s first Urth Caffé, an organic coffeehouse from Los Angeles, has finally arrived. The owners spent more than a year restoring the Laguna Beach landmark The Cottage to its original appearance from 80 years ago. The historic Craftsman-style bungalow, one of the oldest buildings in the city, dates to 1917. It was home to a real estate pioneer before becoming a cafe in the late 1930s. It operated as The Cottage for nearly 50 years until it closed in late 2012.

Shallom and Jilla Berkman launched Urth Caffé in 1989 as a mail order organic coffee business. They are known for using “heirloom” Typica, Bourbon and Geisha trees grown in Africa or South America. These so-called “purebred” beans are prized for their authenticity and intensity of flavor.

“These trees produce the best quality coffee, lowest acid and are more conducive to a sustainable environment,” Shallom Berkman said. “We have one farm in Uganda with 100 percent Bourbon trees grown at elevations of over 9,000 feet above sea level near the last remaining mountain gorillas.”

In 1994, they opened the first cafe in West Hollywood, where celebrity sightings are common. Other locations are in Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, downtown Los Angeles and Pasadena.

As homage to The Cottage, known for its breakfasts, the Laguna Urth Caffé is the first location in the chain with an on-site chef preparing stuffed French toast, potato latkes, organic buttermilk pancakes, gluten-free organic white corn pancakes, and other classics. Longtime fans will find signature favorites such as the double chocolate and pistachio croissant, oven-roasted granola and a Barcelona-inspired Spanish latte.

Shallom Berkman said construction crews worked off old photos of the house from the 1920s. The patio had been “walled off by stucco,” which was removed to uncover the cottage’s original porch beams, he said. Inside, all the wood from the crown moldings to the chair rails has been restored. The cafe will seat 200. “The building is so much more beautiful in its original state.”

Urth Caffé, 308 N. Coast Highway, (The cafe has eight parking spaces plus street parking. Berkman said he is working on a valet program.) 949.376.8888 :: urthcaffe.com

See archived 'Community' stories »

What is this?

Save & Share this Article