Many in the neighborhood wept and cried foul earlier this year when the Lower Haight's beloved, 21-year-old café Bean There was forced to shutter. The reason was a familiar one: The landlord, who initially promised the café would only have to close temporarily for city-mandated seismic upgrades, decided to shop around for potential higher-paying tenants. It seems that Blue Bottle Coffee is one of them, and while the locally born roaster may be well liked by many coffee fans, the move is likely to rankle the many Bean There devotees who are sure to see this as a sad case of gentrification and greed on the part of the landlord following the loss of a popular small business.
Also, as Hoodline notes from a tipster, this is hardly a done deal for the space at 201 Steiner. Blue Bottle is having a community meeting on August 15 to give neighbors a chance to review and discuss their plans prior to the coffee chain applying for a conditional use permit from Planning. You see, Blue Bottle now falls into the category of formula retail with more than 11 locations worldwide, and the Lower Haight is one of multiple neighborhoods in the city where conditional-use approval is required for any chain to move in.
And despite humble beginnings, Blue Bottle has become something of a major player in the third-wave coffee world, having secured $85 million in venture capital in the last two years, and having almost swallowed up Tartine Bakery.
Blue Bottle currently has ten locations in the Bay Area, with others in Los Angeles, New York in Tokyo, and there are plans to open several more locations here.
Neighbors are encouraged to attend the community meeting at 6:30 p.m. on August 15 at the Harvey Milk Recreation Center at 50 Scott Street.