We learned in April that the city was offering to pay pop-ups as much as $8,000 to occupy vacant retail spaces downtown. We now know the first batch will include Devil’s Teeth Bakery, KALW, and a flea market called Sucka Flea.
As the downtown SF recovery has continued to be hindered by vacant office space and storefronts, Mayor Breed’s various offices announced a plan in April, in partnership with SF New Deal, to allow pop-up businesses to operate rent-free, and even paying them $3,000 to $8,000 in grants to get them up and running. The program was dubbed Vacant to Vibrant, and the pop-ups that applied were offered three- to four-month residencies in vacant office and retail spaces.
Mayor Breed Announces Vacant to Vibrant Awardees as Part of San Francisco's Roadmap to Recovery Strategy - https://t.co/QtQbf6tl3m— Mayor London Breed's Press Office (@MyrPressOffice) August 24, 2023
On Thursday, those offices announced the first 17 participating pop-ups. There are a few familiar, established favorites on the list, some you may have seen at food truck meet-ups, and others that, well, we’re not sure how to explain exactly what they are. These pop-ups are not open yet, but per the Chronicle, they will open “in the second half of September.” We’ve listed all of the “activators” coming into these vacant spaces below, and where you can find them to help juice up the downtown SF recovery.
And, you'll see, several of the spaces getting occupied are empty stores in the Embarcadero Center mall.
Outer Sunset breakfast sandwich favorite Devil’s Teeth Baking Company is coming to the other side of town, and is likely to be a hit given their delicious established credentials. (One Embarcadero Center, Suite R1113)
You may have seen vegan donut purveyor Whack Donuts! at Ritual Roasters and Rainbow Grocery, and now you an find them at the Embarcadero Center. (Four Embarcadero Center, Suite 4507)
Nature’s Keeper will be selling “sustainable” outdoor gear with a decidedly tie-dye flair. (100 California Street, Suite 140)
Sharing that same spot will be Holy Stitch, who offer both apparel and sewing supplies. (100 California Street, Suite 140)
Dazzling stuff will be available from Phil Spitler and Victoria Mara Heilwell, whose work is described as “sculptural artwork using LED illumination.” (332 Pine Street)
Multimedia artist Risa Iwasaki Culbertson will have a studio displaying work by the Berkeley-based artist. (151 Jackson Street)
NPR affiliate KALW will apparently be doing some broadcasting from this pop-up Financial District studio. (220 Montgomery Street, Suite 100)
Sucka Flea is a very cleverly named flea market that you may have seen during weekend engagements on Valencia Street. (332 Pine Street)
Yonder Shop will offer a lovely lineup of upscale kitchen and home goods. (151 Jackson Street)
BRUJAS is a New York City-based women’s skateboard collective branching out to the west coast. (201 Jackson Street)
Bee Betwee is a visual artist who’ll be setting up a mini-gallery at Montgomery and Bush streets. (220 Montgomery Street, Suite 100)
York Street Cafe will be serving their pastries and drinks that you may have seen at pop-up markets across town. (Four Embarcadero, Suite 4507)
The Mellow will offer very nice plants and plant holders. (332 Pine Street)
Creativity Explored has been an art collective for developmentally disabled adults for more than 40 years, and now they’ll have a storefront. (220 Montgomery Street, Suite 100)
GCS Agency says they do “curating captivating exhibitions” and it seems they’ll have art gallery type displays. (201 Jackson Street)
More pop-ups will be announced in a couple of months, as this is the first of three rounds for this program.
Wells Fargo has provided an undisclosed sum as the program's presenting sponsor, and the pop-ups are not actually being charged rent. The City of SF has contributed $710,000 towards the program.
"Vacant to Vibrant is a public-private partnership that we’re actively seeking additional partnership and support to bring to it to its fullest potential," says SF New Deal's Executive Director Simon Bertrang. "We’re grateful to Wells Fargo for stepping up as our presenting sponsor."
A previous version of this article stated that Wells Fargo was subsidizing rent for the pop-ups, but Wells Fargo's contribution is not actually going toward rent.