Old Dr. Miller’s place, an iconic landmark of downtown Santa Cruz, is on the market, ready for its next life — for that real estate buyer/entrepreneur with a vision.
Right there at Cedar and Elm streets, just down the street from Kuumbwa Jazz Center and across from the Well Within Spa, Caffe Pergolesi was a longtime downtown Santa Cruz icon at 418 Cedar St.
If you’ve walked past the space any time in the past six years, you might have seen the historic Dr. Miller building’s empty storefront, which housed Caffe Pergolesi, billed as Santa Cruz’s “oldest coffeehouse,” for 28 years until it closed in August 2017.
Now, its current owners — for whom refurbishment became too overwhelming — have put it up for sale.
It’s listed for sale on Craigslist, along with the Multiple Listing Service, for just under a cool $3 million, at $2,999,500. It’s being marketed as a restaurant opportunity, completely remodeled with a reconstructed foundation, renovated porch and fence, all on a 5,184-square-foot lot.
In addition to the primary restaurant space, the buyer gets a three-bedroom apartment and a 1,050-square-foot basement.
According to the Santa Cruz County Assessor’s Office, the most recent property owner is listed as John Glenn in 2018. Per the office’s records, it is listed as a familial transfer to Glenn, and hasn’t actually been sold since 1977.
The seller’s representative, Roger Barnes, told Lookout on Wednesday that Glenn and his business partner, Victor Brooks, planned to refurbish the property as a coffeehouse, spending nearly $1 million over three years. When Glenn died earlier this year, Brooks decided to list the property for sale.
“It’s in great condition; they completely redid the entire structure,” Barnes said, “but it’s too much [for Brooks] to bite off.”
Caffe Pergolesi had been in operation since 1973, known as a unique, centralized space for Santa Cruzans young and old, and moved to the corner of Cedar and Elm from Pacific Avenue after the 1989 earthquake. “The Perg” was a popular hang-out spot dating back before the rise of Starbucks and internet cafes, often attracting an eccentric, even transgressive clientele of artists, bohemians, writers, and musicians. One of the most popular bands to ever emerge from Santa Cruz, the folk-roots trio Devil Makes Three, all worked together selling coffee at Pergolesi. Inside, the cafe was famous for the provocative art it hung on the walls. Outdoors, on its spacious wrap-around patio, Pergolesi was a popular meeting spot for everything from homework/study sessions to writers groups or movie clubs.
Owner Karl Heiman — who also owns Capitola coffeehouse Mr. Toots — told Good Times prior to Caffe Perg’s closure that he wished he could keep the store open, but the visible homeless population made it difficult to continue.
“I wanted it to be a place for the community to enjoy … but I’m being backed into a corner,” he said.
Barnes has heard from some prospective buyers since listing the property Saturday, and hopes the new owners will focus on the historic elements of the property.
“It’s what I think of in terms of old Santa Cruz — it’s just a beautiful, stately woman,” he said. “I think anyone who buys it will try to maintain the statuesque type of feeling.”
UPDATE: This story has been updated to reflect the timeline of Caffe Pergolesi’s locations.