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Sandwich sophistication

Urbane Café settles into downtown SLO



After a long and arduous remodeling period, 925 Higuera St. is now home to the modern and health-conscious restaurant Urbane Café. The café, which originated in Ventura, showcases a large hearth oven, from which bread is baked fresh daily in plain sight of customers.

- HEARTH AND HOME :  Tom Holt envisioned a sandwich shop built around the principles of an open hearth oven. -  - PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
  • HEARTH AND HOME : Tom Holt envisioned a sandwich shop built around the principles of an open hearth oven.

Owner Tom Holt said he came up with the idea of putting a hearth oven in his cafés while traveling with his wife in Chicago.

“I just went into a place and I saw a hearth oven and I was like, it would be cool if we made bread in the oven in front of the guests and they had this visual of
us doing everything fresh, and actually doing everything in here. Not getting it shipped in.”

The hearth oven became the focal point of Holt’s restaurants, and the impressions of health and sustenance that it conjures up provide the theme for both the menu and the décor of the restaurant.

The food served at Urbane Café consists of a wide variety of sandwiches and salads that are chock full of healthy, flavorful ingredients. Focaccia bread is constantly being baked on site, they create all of their own sauces, and the chicken (which is grilled and baked on-site) contains a variety of different flavors including pesto, rosemary, and Cajun seasoning. Holt describes the food as “something fresh, some unique flavors that you don’t get in sandwiches everyday.”

Holt said he got the idea for the cuisine in his restaurant in 2003, while he was driving around, aimlessly searching for a place to eat.

“I wanted something fresh and something that had a salad and was a little more on the healthy side.”

Holt said that he simply couldn’t find what he was looking for, and eventually he created the cuisine of his café in the mold of what he was craving that day.

The San Luis Obispo location is Urbane Café’s sixth installment, and by far its largest at roughly 2,600 square feet. The size of the café was accomplished through careful architectural design and an extensive remodeling process which Holt describes as “two to three months of pain.”

“We had to push back the whole store front back and everything. We had to demo, and this is over a creek, so it was tough to do the water lines underneath. This was pretty extensive. To make everything up to code was a big task.”

The results of the remodel included the installment of a spacious, heated patio in front of the café, as well as adding new windows and exposed brick walls, and tile floors that have the appearance of dark wood. The hearth oven, which is straight ahead as you walk through the doors, is covered in vibrant yellow tiles that give the café a warm and inviting appearance.

Holt wants his café to be accepted by locals as well as tourists and hopes to dissociate his restaurant from the “chain” stigma.

“We want to be known as part of the community. If we don’t connect with the workers, the families, we are going to have a hard time.”

Urbane Café is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to
8 p.m. on Sunday. For more information or to check out their menu go to, or call them at 541-5100.

Fast facts

The social service agency Aspiranet will host a community open house to highlight the need for more foster and adoptive parents for Central Coast children as part of National Adoption Awareness Month. This event is open to the public and is designed to allow interested parents to speak with Aspiranet representatives to learn how they can open their homes and hearts to a child in need of permanent loving family. The event takes place on Nov. 17 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Aspiranet Central Coast office located at 200 South 13th St., Suite 101 in Grover Beach. For more information call 473-8760 or check out

Contributor Jack Johnson compiled this week’s Strokes and Plugs. Send your business news to

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