Country Kitchen and Country Liquor

The Country Kitchen, a popular burger and breakfast joint on Pacific Coast Highway between Rambla Vista and Rambla Pacifico that’s been a haven among locals for over 40 years, has lost its lease and will likely close before the end of the year.

The shuttering of the Country Kitchen comes in the wake of other longtime Malibu businesses closing their doors for good, including Diesel, A Bookstore in the Civic Center this July. 

Unlike that business, according to Country Kitchen’s owner Maurice “Maury” Kilbourne, it wasn’t higher rent or decreased business that did the restaurant in.

“Business has been really good the last couple of years, actually better than it’s been in a long time, after we put the burritos on the menu,” Kilbourne said. Kilbourne, 77, has owned the Country Kitchen since 1972, when he purchased it from the original owner after having owned a flower shop nearby for the previous eight years.

“Everyone told me the restaurant was up for sale,” Kilbourne said, “I thought it was really cheap, so I went after it. I borrowed some money from my parents in Michigan.”

The building had been owned by the same woman until she passed away last year at 103 years old.

“We would have fixed it up, but nobody knew she was going to live to 103,” Kilbourne said.

After the owner’s death, there was talk of local business owners bidding for the building, but it was eventually sold to an unnamed outsider, according to Kilbourne.

From the sound of it, dealing with the building’s new mystery owner has been difficult. 

“Originally, they gave me a 60-day notice in the mail, and that was a couple months ago,” Kilbourne said. “I was concerned about it, I tried to call them, and I couldn’t get a hold of them. Finally they said it might be as much as five or six months, but I don’t know what they’re doing exactly.”

“We heard through the grapevine that the people who bought it have other restaurants, like six or so up in San Francisco, and they’re called Barney’s,” Kilbourne said.

The manager of the Barney’s Gourmet Hamburger location in Sherman Oaks mentioned that she has heard rumors of the same thing, and though she could not confirm if and when the location would be opened, “it would be really exciting.”

Her excitement isn’t shared by locals like Shelley Coulson, who has been a regular patron of the Country Kitchen for about 25 years. Coulson, who lives in Topanga, works in an office around the corner from the restaurant.

When asked whether she would continue patronizing a burger chain located in the same location, she did not seem enthusiastic about the idea.

“Absolutely not,” Coulson said, adding, “I’d really like to support our local merchants and the mom and pops, as few as there are.”

Coulson said it’s the experience of going to a family-owned business that you can’t replicate.

“It’s a great loss, he’s … always provided us with great fresh food and always a smile and he’s just such a personable, loving person,” Coulson said. “He tries to remember your name and what you like, and that’s the type of service you don’t get anymore.”

Country Kitchen manager Joel Ruiz seemed to agree that any restaurant in that location would suffer without Kilbourne at the helm.

“They say they’re going to keep the employees, but it’s going to be hard because Maury didn’t treat me like an employee. To him, I was like family,” said Ruiz, who has worked for Kilbourne since 1985.

Ruiz was readying to purchase the restaurant and take over from Kilbourne as he prepared for retirement, but that will no longer be the case.

“Joel has been with me for years, and now everything is upset for him. I feel bad for him because he was anticipating this for a long time,” Kilbourne said, “A long time down the drain for him.”

The Country Kitchen should be open for the next couple of months, with no solid closing date, Kilbourne and Ruiz said.

(18) comments

mal gal

Businesses don't always publicize their availability for purchase locally but do it through agents and maybe a site for commercial properties like LoopNet.com. in fact, there's an office building at Carbon Beach listed there now for 12 mil. It might be a good idea to casually monitor sites like loopnet just to be ahead of the game.

Wendi Dunn

The locals managed to save John's garden years ago when this all first began to happen. The locals can do it again!

Lois Lyons

MalibuJoe123, wave goodbye to the place where everyone knows your name. Malibu is turning into Newport Beach North (or is it West?) before our eyes. It will soon be a place where no one knows your name--or your face. They will only know your money.

mm, I know MK has good food. But it does not have good owners. Before it was a French Bakery, which I think closed in 1998 and I miss that lady that made french pastries. I liked when you moved in. But it is not my or other locals fault that you had bad business partners that caused you to get angry and bitter and take it out on the local supporters.

I am not the only one to refer to it as the Seinfeld episode referred to the soup *bleep*. When I go to Semlers for wine on the grass or visit friends and take cheese they all say, "Gelsons or Bristol Farms? Please don't tell me you stood in line for the cheese *bleep*."

He brought that reputation upon himself. When Jan-March is here and all the rich Euros are gone, its the locals that pay the rent. Many wont go, and I have not gone since 2006. Been a long time. And I have no desire to go back. You used to be so friendly and got so angry and rude.

Sorry, but if I want to be abused I don't need to stand in line and pay for it.

malibumockery

jjj and scott_davis, Please don't be haters of Malibu Kitchen. It's owned by a hard working family that lives in Malibu and takes pride in serving great food and creating beautiful pastries. It is exactly the type of restaurant/deli/market Malibu needs. All small towns need unique non-franchise restaurants with character.

jjj, You are missing out by not enjoying the food and ambiance at Malibu Kitchen. You should give it another chance, everything they serve is freshly made and delicious.

Everyone who frequents the Starbucks on Cross Creek should step into Malibu Kitchen (around the corner in the same building), pour their own coffee and sample a hot bear claw or other pastry.

Wendi Dunn

JJJ, if you are still confused about what this measure is all about, you can attend the debate this Sunday at city hall. The malibu times has all of the info.


Marianne Riggins

Love this place, best burger in Malibu, it would be great to help keep them in Malibu.

J. Flora-Katz

This reminds me of when Trancas Nursery and Sea Lily were evicted and we all joined together and fought to save them. It was hard but we did it! Levon Shoe Repair, too. They are all still here today and thriving. That was the start of Preserve Malibu and why we've all worked so hard for Measure R!

So, let's do it again. Let's get organized in the next few weeks, stand together and work to save Maury's business. Isn't it worth standing up for a guy who's been a part of our Malibu family for 40 years?

After this election in a few weeks, let's get moving! If you find out any information on the landlords, please message the Malibu Times. We need to know who to talk to and the Times is a great source for news!

Andy Choka

Maury is a great guy, PCH burgers are the best, we all need local places and one just died. I for one am going to eat a lot of PCH burgers in the next couple of months. Don't forget that Preserve Malibu was formed to save local businesses and did a good job saving European Shoe Repair and Sea Lilly. They could not save our beloved Diesel and the many many shops like Tops that the developers wanted to get rid of. Vote for Measure R and perhaps Maury or Joel Ruiz will have a fighting chance to do business in Malibu. It is a horrible thing to see a town die in front of your eyes.

scott_davis

Was hoping this article was about Malibu Kitchen not Malibu Country Kitchen. I wish Malibu Kitchen and its ownership would just go away.

Hellwood

super lame!

Jonathan Friedman

Too bad. I was a regular here when I worked at The Malibu Times. Hopefully something can be worked out, and it will remain open.

MalibuJoe123

This is really sad news. Love this place. Love the service and the food. I moved to Malibu just over a year ago and this place makes it feel like home, like a real community where everyone knows your name.

Stephen Gary

Another perfect example of how our beloved town is going down the toilet and becoming 'Beverly Hills by the Sea'. Having known Maury and having been a frequent patron of the restaurant for my entire life (30 years), this is very sad news. Even though I live just up the street, I surely won't be supporting Barney's or any other chain restaurants that have infiltrated Malibu and pushed out the mom and pops. Let's take some pride in maintaining a shred of what Malibu once was - a quiet, family friendly beach community that supported local business and quality of life. I ask anyone who shares my viewpoint to join me and comment here as well. Can't express enough how angry and upset this makes me.

Paul Grisanti

Who knew the building was for sale? I didn't. It's hard for a local to buy and operate a building if it doesn't change hands on the open market.
Country Kitchen has been a fixture in our family's life for at least 26 years.

Kathy Ericksonn

NOOOOOOOOO! What a crappy way to start the day. This makes me truly sad and angry. I love Country Kitchen. It's one of the true charms and uniqueness of Malibu. What can we do to keep them here?

Which is why reiner is flawed. WalMart ain't moving to Malibu, this crap of mini chains need to take a hike.

Wendi Dunn

Tis happening from one end of malibu to another. This is horrible news.

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