Urth Caffé first opened with a singular focus: to preserve age-old coffee tradition and serve the best beans to like-minded locals. A grassroots groundswell brought them into the big-time—and to Wynn Plaza.
Urth's signature Spanish latte and fruit tart
A meeting with a coffee farmer from Peru who made organic, heirloom coffee sparked an idea for Jilla and Shallom Berkman, who were attracted to the idea that his coffee trees had never been genetically modified. The couple were so inspired they opened Urth Caffé in Manhattan Beach in 1991, with a simple mission: to give these heirloom beans the attention they deserved, in a space with a healthy California vibe. “We didn’t have a long-term growth plan. We didn’t even plan past the first store,” Shallom says. But then Urth Caffé became incredibly popular, with lines stretching across the street. The Berkmans felt they had no choice but to expand, adding locations in West Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Pasadena and downtown Los Angeles. That Southern California sensibility has far-reaching appeal. In the last three years, they have expanded not only within the state, but also to Tokyo and Riyadh, through international partnerships. And while the couple will tell you they were the last to anticipate opening in Japan or Saudi Arabia, the lure of heirloom, organic coffee is universal. The brand new Wynn Plaza location is the company’s first in the United States outside of California, and although the philosophy hasn’t changed, the surroundings certainly have. “Our first branch was a 300-square-foot store with only five stools and no food,” Shallom says. The Las Vegas location debuts with a coffee blend of African and South American heirloom beans exclusive to Wynn, as well as a select line of organic, biodynamic and sustainable wines and beers from around the world and Las Vegas microbreweries. Ancient-grain breads, among other healthy offerings, feature prominently on the California-inflected all-day menu. Central to the Wynn Plaza location, an olive tree is surrounded by a fountain crafted by tile artists in the Malibu tradition, incorporating semiprecious stones, including natural turquoise, and with hidden hearts embedded in its surfaces, as Shallom says, “to give the guests the feeling of a lovely Californian outdoor experience.”