The space once destined to be Coffee Bar SOMA. [Photo: Luis C./Yelp]
It's been over a year since Coffee Bar first announced its planned third location in the former What's Up Dog diner at 12th and Howard, and now, according to VP of Operations Nathan Downs, the burgeoning chain has decided to back out of the project. Coffee Bar's leave-taking was presaged in part by the disappearance of The Window, the space's rotating pop-up kitchen, back in October, but Downs tells us the final nail in the coffin actually had to do with a new commissary kitchen opening up near the Coffee Bar mothership at 18th and Bryant in the Mission. "We originally got into the Howard Street space to use as a commissary kitchen because we were outgrowing our space at Bryant," he says. "It was just going to be a temporary solution, and then we decided to do a build-out in the front. We were trying to get some revenues coming in while the build-out was happening, so that's why we launched The Window."
As The Window became increasingly popular, Downs and his team struggled to juggle Coffee Bar's own commissary needs with the constant revolving door of pop-up chefs. "The Window was a really fun project, but kind of ridiculous in some ways...I probably worked with 70 or 80 chef crews in the seven-and-a-half months it was open." When a commissary space opened up at Florida and Mariposa (just a block from its main location), Coffee Bar jumped on it, and The Window folded. Now, after some deliberation, the partners have decided to nix their plans for a new location in the Howard space as well. "We've decided that the future of Coffee Bar is not large cafes...we want to do more small stores that are grab-and-go, like our location in Golden Gate Park," says Downs. Luckily, the landlord was willing to take the lease off Coffee Bar's hands, though it's still unclear who, if anyone, has signed up to take its place.
In the meantime, Coffee Bar is planning to announce an expansion elsewhere in SF within the month, and while Downs has no plans to revive The Window in any of Coffee Bar's current spaces, he says he'd be glad to offer advice to other pop-up incubators: "If someone has a similar setup, I'd be happy to coach them through."
· Coffee Bar Now Taking Applications For New SoMa Nighttime Restaurant Concept [~ ESF ~]
· All Coffee Bar posts [~ ESF ~]
· All The Window posts [~ ESF ~]