Starbucks splits the Castro


Does the world — or in this case, San Francisco — really need another Starbucks? In the Castro, some neighborhood merchants are putting their foot down and saying absolutely not.

A proposed Starbucks at 2201 Market has a merchants coalition taking up the torch against the new cafe. They’ve started a petition that has gathered 2,500 signatures so far, and counting.

Wendy Mogg, owner of Sweet Inspiration Bakery Cafe six doors up the street at 2239 Market, told SFBay that the proposal for the new caffeinated café will drive up the cost of rent and cause local merchants to be priced out of the market:

“Once they go out, more formula retail comes in and — voila! A strip mall is born.”

She said local businesses are better for the local economy as merchants hire more local people, donate locally and keep money in the local economy. The space the coffee chain is eyeing is already occupied by a local merchant, the Industrialists furniture shop.

The San Francisco Planning Commission will review Starbucks’ application for a conditional use permit, though it’s not yet scheduled for a vote.

Mogg said one primary criterion for the permit would be to establish a need. In the same block, there’s a Peet’s Coffee and Tea, her own bakery and Cafe Flore across the street. Two Starbucks are also within blocks already at Market and Dolores and 18th and Castro — three if you count the mini-Starbucks inside.

According to Haighteration, the Castro has had mixed feelings about the potential new Starbucks. The Merchants of Upper Market & Castro voted to support the Starbucks location while another group — the Castro/Upper Market Community Benefit District— voted to oppose it.

Other neighborhood associations against the location include Castro Community Benefits District, Eureka Valley Neighborhood Association and Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association.

San Francisco already has 83 Starbucks locations according to YP.com.

A new wave of Starbucks should come as no surprise. The company announced earlier this month that by 2017, they would open 3,000 new cafés throughout the United States. There will be 20,000 stores in five years globally, up from about 18,000.

The company isn’t doing too shabby either. Sales of new cafés are estimating $1 million a year, and it only costs about $450,000 to build a new store, according to the AP. Earlier this year, the company bought La Boulange, a San Francisco original, and has already started testing new baked goods at select locations.

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