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SF Fights the Man: Java House Pays Up, Starbucks Looks Down

Given our fair city's reputation for housing vehement protests and the like, it seems only natural that we should track the constant battle between big business and their benevolent, soul-filled counterparts. The last week of summer brings a pair of looming battle royales: one involving a mom-and-pop shop sittin' on the dock of the Bay and the other featuring the ever-enjoyable hippie-Starbucks clash.


EMBARCADERO—Phil Papadopoulus, longtime owner of Pier 40's Java House, has had a nice little operation on his bayside breakfast and burger joint. Along with his wife and daughter, he's been working the counter for the last 23 years, establishing Java House as one of the last true mom-and-pop places in town.

Come Saturday, things might be changing, as the Port of San Francisco is raising the rent fivefold, from $800 to $4,429. The two sides had previously agreed upon a $2600 lease, but to Papadopoulus' dismay, the Port never filed the paperwork. The sudden hike is the result of prior negotiations falling through the Port realizing it could charge any price. Negotations will begin anew after the (comparatively) astronomical rent is paid. Looking around the area at the likes of Chaya, Palomino and Gordon Biersch, it's hard to see just how the city can justify its claim to support small businesses. Edge: the Man.

RICHMOND—On the west side of town, Richmond residents continue to gain momentum in their fight to block a 750-square-foot Starbucks from opening on the corner of 5th Avenue and Geary Boulevard. The petition is up to about 3,000 signatures and the Board of Supes vote has been delayed until September 11th. The delay seems to have encouraged the anti-Starbuckians, as they've gained confidence by citing prior failed Starbucks openings in Hayes Valley, the Sunset, Japantown and, um, the Forbidden City. They've even started a blog, which is apparently the cool thing to do. Edge: little guys.

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