Saint Frank Coffee quietly opened its second location in the MIRA building on Folsom Street on Friday, January 5. By the end of the weekend, long lines formed as locals and Ferry Building goers heard the news. The shop is now officially open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., serving pastries from sister business Juniper, teas from Song Tea and Ceramics, and an ever-expanding selection of coffees from Saint Frank.
When it comes to entering the “downtown is doomed” conversation — though the city just reported another quarter of record low office vacancies, real estate firm CBRE reports that means 2024 will be the year rents rebound — founder and owner Kevin Bohlin is undaunted. “The pandemic created space to dream,” Bohlin says. “Out of that time, it became clear it was time to do this in San Francisco. And I like a challenge. Doom loop? Watch me.”
The menu at Saint Frank’s new location will be identical to that of the first shop, at least for now. And though the business once had a roaster on Mission Street, with a tiny coffee bar open to the public, this is only the second full-service cafe in the city for the third-wave coffee pioneers. In addition to furthering the minimal and contemplative aesthetic now common in specialty cafes, Saint Frank is known for cultivating relationships with often-overlooked coffee-producing countries including Bolivia and Burundi. Opening this new location just blocks from San Francisco’s first-wave coffee pioneers — Folgers and Hills Brothers both have buildings on the waterfront — is not lost on Bohlin. “We’re establishing our San Francisco identity even deeper,” Bohlin says. “This building is striking. And this community didn’t have what we do.”
Longtime Saint Frank architect Amanda Loper, a friend of Bohlin and his wife Lauren, designed the space. The build-out took about six months, with an ox-blood ceiling matching new marble tables that run red with the same color in streaks. A communal table, also marble, sits to the side of a classic horseshoe coffee bar and beneath a tremendous painting celebrating Babette’s Feast, a Danish tale all about food and drink. MIRA worked a rent deal with Saint Frank to alleviate the financial burden of opening, but that doesn’t mean it was inexpensive to get started in the area. Still, Bohlin just bought the building where the original Polk Street location has maintained its loyal fanbase for the past 10 years.
Bohlin sees this opening as re-committing to the city he loves, where he cut his teeth at Ritual in the aughts before shuttling his nascent Saint Frank coffee cart around the city. This new shop is located in what real estate developers lovingly refer to as the East Cut, but what many would recognize as SoMa. Still, Bohlin was struck by the area’s high-rise buildings, what he calls “vertical blocks,” and he felt that sense of community as soon as the doors opened. “This is an actual neighborhood,” Bohlin says. “You’re steps away from many, many homes. People told us nobody would wants our kind of coffee in Russian Hill, too.”
Saint Frank Coffee (130 Folsom Street) is open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.