Although Cafe Vienna has closed its doors, it doesn't look like Ferdinand Lettner has moved on from his love of European-style cafes.
Goko Cafe, known for its eclectic menu of everything from burritos and sandwiches to gyros and acai bowls, closed shop June 7 and underwent a transformation in just three weeks. Kerry and Breshkai Berlin, who bought Goko Cafe three years ago, partnered up with Lettner for a new concept: Thalia Beach Cafe, which was unveiled to the public June 30.
The surfboard upon the wall and the beachy vibe was traded in for a more sophisticated look — sleek tables and minimal decor — causing the red walls, previously covered with beach art, to pop.
The cafe at 907 S. Coast Hwy. now serves crepes, wraps and sandwiches, along with salads, breakfast dishes and plenty of espresso drinks to choose from.
Half of the menu is sandwich-type fillings that can be served in a wrap, crepe or between bread — such as black forest ham and Gruyère cheese or the "Laguna Ranch Chicken," which consists of turkey, avocado, tomato, Jack cheese, Dijon mustard and ranch dressing.
Sweet crepes offer combinations such as vanilla custard and fresh berries, or apples with cinnamon and raisins in a vanilla sauce.
A show kitchen now exists in the front of the cafe, where customers can view their wraps and crepes being made by hand — an aspect the trio all thought was integral to the change.
The Berlins, who live in Irvine, said they let Lettner work his magic by developing the new concept, giving decor ideas, bringing in his own staff and then training them.
"It's about the challenge of doing something different," Lettner said.
Kerry Berlin, 52, said he thinks the cafe has an "elegance" to its offerings now but is still staying true to what Goko was — trying to serve up healthy, delicious food.
"Goko was around for a long time, and I think it was time to overhaul and make it a better concept," Breshkai Berlin, 52, said.
"We like to say it ran its course," Kerry Berlin added.
Lettner called the partnership a coincidence. On Cafe Vienna's last day of operation a customer came in and told Lettner he should contact the Goko Cafe owners, who were thinking of doing changes to the concept.
He walked into Goko Cafe that week, chatted with Breshkai Berlin, and the rest was history.
"I think once [customers] come in and try something, they'll fall in love with it," Breshkai Berlin said.