The OP Cafe, one of Los Angeles’s most popular daytime breakfast and lunch destinations, will be closing permanently this weekend after more than 40 years in business. Located inland in Santa Monica along Ocean Park Boulevard, the bright yellow wood facade building featured eggs, breakfast burritos, huevos rancheros, pancakes, and waffles in the morning, followed by burgers, sandwiches, and more, serving a mostly local crowd. Owner and Santa Monica native Mark Verge, who also owns Golden Bull, Ashland Hill, Art’s Table, and Margo’s, said the OP Cafe had not been profitable since the start of the pandemic.
Verge said it’s been a challenge to continue operations but that without the support of nearby office workers (Activation Blizzard recently vacated the large office complex across the street after 10 years), the OP Cafe just didn’t have an opportunity to stay in business. The OP Cafe did receive PPP funds and did its best to navigate the pandemic, using the bulk of its funds to pay employees, and even serving as the base of operations for a takeout-only business called Order for Me, where chef Greg Daniels (who oversees Golden Bull) was making things like beef on weck.
OP Cafe also set up a sizable covered back patio in an effort to accommodate more outdoor dining. None of those things were enough to combat the loss of steady business due to the office workers and the daily traffic coming into the area.
Verge did say that about 20 remaining employees at the OP Cafe will be relocated to his other restaurants, which means no one will be losing jobs despite the closure. Mark and wife Lani Verge acquired the restaurant in 2006 and have owned it since. Originally opened in 1979 as the Ocean Park Cafe, the original owner sold the restaurant to its chef at the time in 1999. That chef then sold it to Mark Verge but did not want to give up the full name of Ocean Park Cafe. Hence the moniker the OP Cafe, which stood in for the beloved neighborhood restaurant. Before Ocean Park Cafe, Verge said the space was more of a bar, but developed into a Santa Monica family favorite in the past few decades.
The OP Cafe will serve its final meals on Sunday, September 26. It will have normal hours of 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., though given the history of the restaurant and its place in the Ocean Park neighborhood, expect to see long waits during prime mealtimes.