Restaurants open & close – always. In this industry especially it’s been nearly as reliable as a politician breaking a campaign promise. So do businesses in general to a lesser degree – like Zinke’s shoe repair shop & The White Hut in Pasadena.
So when I happened to meet the district manager (DM) of the Southern Cal Urth Caffe’s, during a stroll in the Playhouse District, she told me about the upcoming “grand opening” of their newest right here in Pasadena. My reaction was, “Oh, Ok.”
You see, I’ve been hearing about & seeing the coming of the Pasadena Urth Caffe (UC) for about three years now. Losing Zinke’s shoe shop & The White Hut, which had some history in Pasadena, from that corner was probably the clearest sign something new, and hopefully better, was coming. Nevertheless, the bulldozing of those old businesses revealed some other Pasadena history, as I wrote here: All About The Watchmaker.
Urth Caffe has been around for about 20 yrs with locations from Downtown LA westward to Santa Monica. However, their 1st caffe began on Melrose in West Hollywood. That was also the place I had my 1st and only experience with UC back in the 90’s. UC was a popular cafe when it first opened, even for WeHo, and celebrities were often seen there.
This “grand opening” on August 18th was actually an Open House. Nothing was actually being bought or sold, no regular hours nor full menu. This would be the day for a FREE sampling of their food & drinks as UC’s offer to be known & accepted by its potential customers in the vicinity. It would also be my return visit to UC since that time in West Hollywood back in the 20th Century. IF UC were closer I wouldn’t have waited until this century to return.
Perhaps you were one of those who made it to their open house. The event ran from 12-7pm. Around 10:30am I passed by and already a few dozen people were lining up outside, starving to get inside for the FREE food/drinks. I figured these were some of Pasadena’s young & homeless dressed in their Sunday best.
After the Open House I told the DM that I would write about this new UC but I wasn’t sure if it would be this Open House or the Grand Opening planned for September. Her response: “Both!” Sure. She understandably didn’t how productive & lazy this blogger is. For now, lemme just continue with this write up on the open house.
Lemme talk less & put up some pics from that FREE day.
UC asked the city to close down their street on Madison Avenue. I assume bicycles were given equal treatment with motor vehicles.
I alerted some of my Pasadena foodie friends of this FREE event. When I first arrived on the scene I saw a brunch of people standing & sitting. I went to talk with a police officer to make sure she was aware of the FREE food & drink when I was approached by the head honcho of the Downtown Pasadena Neighborhood Residents Association and bike hugger. Well, at least one person listened to me!
I saw brunches of people, but where was the FREE food?? Luckily, I promptly recognized the DM and she directed me on the straight & narrow. After barely thanking her I immediately recognized another friend who listens to me, Jian, by her USC jersey. She’s a special breed: loves to eat but also loves to cook. Hell, she’s just full of love!
Our 1st stop upon entering the caffe were drinks: lemonade, teas, and water.
Next stop was coffee. UC brought in some of their best barista’s from their other locations. They went virtually non-stop putting out Latte’s, Spanish Latte’s, and regular reliable coffee.
Next station held sliders, sandwiches, and sweets. From my recollection, among the sliders & sandwiches were grilled cheeze, Panini’s, turkey burgers, & chicken curry. Sweets included cheezecake, flourless chocolate cake, carrot cake, tiramisu, and coconut cake.
We filled up! – we only had 2 hands & small plates. But this was like Korean All You Can Eat BBQ or American All You Can Eat Souplantation (w/o the price tag), so we made happy returns!
Inside looking out. For those who simply wanted to street people watch…
Another person I recognized was a Pasadena Media cameraman (sitting on the right corner) who was there to document another local event. We chatted about our last event.
For some reason the water station wasn’t quite as busy as the others.
Although the lines moved very quickly, the treats sometimes came to the people on that warm day.
I sampled a few of these.
The Photographers Photographer. Suddenly among the customers one customer sets up a microphone and begins to sing. Not just any singer: an Opera singer, who I overheard was Golda the daughter of the owners, Shallom & Jilla Berkman. UC providing FREE entertainment as well!
UC was assisted by a catering company which has also catered big events such as celebrity award shows. It was no surprise then when the open house closed for the day there were still boxes and trays of food.
Behind me were the last customers – 2 beautiful girls: “We never been to Urth Caffe.” “We just moved to Pasadena.” Oh, and where did y’all come from? “Michigan” & “Tennessee.” Oh. Can I ask what brought you both to Pasadena? “Work.” I shared a piece of Pasadena history with these newest Pasadenan’s, although I miss the old-timers and their long history with our city. Another couple of girls I happened to know were shut out. They sadly came a minute too late. I gave them some of my pumpkin pie to lift their spirits.
Anyway, it’s too bad this was the only day I could eat FREE Cafe food! Thank God it wasn’t the only day: below is a sample of what was in my Doggy bag for my happy meal the next day!
This Open House is in the books. Hope you got to attend, but if not, UC plans another FREEBIE day when their next UC opens. Hope it’s nearby! Since that day, UC had a soft opening last Monday: limited hours with only pastries & drinks for now while they fully staff & train their kitchen to handle the full menu. Although I was given a date of September 2nd when they would be ready to fully open and truly have a “grand opening”, it’s best I hold off until I see it with my own eyes. Restaurant openings have a tendency to change.
So, Pasadena has another new restaurant. Check out the Urth, at the southeast corner of Colorado Blvd & Madison, and lemme know what you think. Whether it becomes a regular stop for you will depend on your personal taste buds & budget, of course. On this particular day I had no complaints!
Gotta Go: Gotta eAT! Stay Thirsty My Friends