Zinc Cafe Old Towne Manager Art Martinez (left) and Vice President Matt Lund showcase the eatery’s offerings from the extensive vegetarian menu. The café is located in The Sunkist Building.  Lund and his team are excited to bring attention to the historic Old Towne building and introduce themselves to the neighborhood.

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Zinc Cafe

At the beginning of the year, the Sunkist Fruit Exchange building reopened its doors and welcomed Zinc Cafe, offering a market, full bar and daily vegetarian dining options for customers.  This marks the cafe’s fifth location, all in Southern California.

“The community has been extremely welcoming, and I’ve met so many wonderful people who are so eager for us to be here,” says Zinc Cafe Vice President Matt Lund.  “Neighbors have been intrigued by the building and would come by to track our progress.”

Zinc Cafe was founded in 1988 by John Secretan, who shifted his focus from architecture to the culinary world while at the University of California, Berkeley, inspired by the growing “food movement” he observed.

“In the 1980s, Berkeley was going through a food movement, and I was lucky to witness the organic aspects of creating really high-quality food,” says Secretan.  “I used a lot of ideas from what I saw in Berkeley to open the first Zinc Cafe in Laguna Beach.”

The Old Towne location will mirror the menu of its sister locations, with the addition of dinner service and a full bar. Highlights at the vegetarian-focused restaurant include spinach lasagna, a mushroom dijon burger and avocado toast.  Lund recommends the Zinc Reubenesque, a spin on the classic Reuben sandwich that uses roasted beets instead of pastrami.

“I’m a firm believer that if you don’t like a food, you just haven’t had it prepared the right way yet,” he says.  “I wasn’t a huge fan of beets, but this sandwich changed that.  It’s the one dish I recommend everybody try.”

Seasonality also shapes the cafe’s menu, with the team regularly switching out dishes to ensure all ingredients are fresh.  In the summer, items like the tomato salad are featured, and new items like the maple brown sugar latte are brought out in the winter.

“We’ve been adjusting our menu to see what kinds of interesting experiences we can deliver to the guests,” says Lund.

He and Secretan are especially excited about building the Orange location because of their roots. Lund was born in Orange, and Secretan, a Tustin native, has fond memories of visiting vintage stores in the Plaza with his mother.

“Old Towne is a place for everyone to meet, and it feels like we have strong community support,” says Secretan.  “I look for spots that mimic the Laguna location, and Orange does that beautifully with the community here.  It checks all the boxes for us.”

Zinc Cafe
195 South Glassell St., Old Towne Orange  /  949-504-9958

Article Published in the
Mar / Apr 24 edition of the Old Towne Orange Plaza Review
Written by Yuki Klotz-Burwell Photo by Kristin Smetona
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