Illy Coffee looking to open up shop next to Rolo on Market

Espressamente Illy in the FiDi

Espressamente Illy in the FiDi

Illy Coffee, the international coffee goods retailer and distributor, has plans for its 9th US cafe location for the Castro at the old framing shop at 2349 Market Street. This location will be the 2nd Espressamente Illy in San Francisco with the other located over in the Financial District.

According to SF Eater, the 1800 sqft location will boast a large communal table for folks to sit at with a single-origin slow bar. SF chef Joyce Goldstein will prepare a custom menu similar to the one she created for the FiDi location featuring sandwiches, salads, frittatas and choice morsels for the evening. They will also be selling their coffee goods and espresso machines in the cafe.

It is not clear yet how residents will react to the proposed location as it’s vague whether or not it will be considered “formula retail” with only 9 US locations and a custom look for every shop. So far we haven’t heard/seen any rumblings from the Castro/Upper Market CBD, Duboce Triangle Neighborhood Association, Merchants of Upper Market and Castro, or the Eureka Valley Neighborhood Association (am I missing any others?).

On their website they’ve stated an ambitious goal of opening more than 200 locations around the world.

What do you think about having an Espressamente Illy here in the Castro?

Roy McKenzie

Roy has been a Castro resident since 2010 and is passionate about politics, camping, and food. Follow his babbling on Twitter.

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51 Responses

  1. Sanchez Resident says:

    Roy – What is your position on this business? I ask because you had very strong position on both Chipotle and Starbucks.

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    • Roy McKenzie says:

      Hey “Sanchez Resident”:

      My position on them being considered as formula retail or my position on them opening up shop? I’ll try to address both.

      I am not sure if they meet formula retail guidelines (as Chipotle and Starbucks did) as they don’t have a ton of locations around the US (though they are planning on more, apparently) and they are planning on a unique look for the cafe (though I’m sure their classic red will be featured). With regard to them opening up shop, I’m on the fence. I don’t think there is a coffee shop on that block of Market and I feel like it’s far enough away from Peets and Castro Coffee Company to be useful. The fact that they are also working with a local chef for their food menu is admirable and leads me away from a “formula retail” label, though they are an international coffee goods distributor.

      What do you think?

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      • rblack says:

        I’ve been waiting for retailer to challenge the “under 10″ locations provision.

        It will be interesting to see if this is opposed and on what grounds.

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      • Sanchez Resident says:

        I do not have a position just yet. I would like to ask the Illy real estate dev team why they didn’t try to get the space at Market and Sanchez.

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        • rblack says:

          Only speculation, but maybe they don’t want to invest that much money on a renovation.

          The Industrialist building would need quite a bit of work to get it up to standard.

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      • Stephen says:

        Technically, they would be the second coffee place on that same block of Market. Apparently, a company called Weaver’s is opening in the Fitness SF building on the corner

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        • Roy McKenzie says:

          *Technically* there is no coffee place right now so it would be the first coffee place on that block unless one opens up before it. I haven’t heard any final plans, just rumors for the place on the corner. I also heard it’s going to be a Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. Where/when did you hear Weavers? I’d like to follow up.

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          • Sanchez Resident says:

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          • Roy McKenzie says:

            Thanks for this!

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          • Stephen says:

            There are two giant window graphics posted in the corner location. I saw them earlier on the way to the gym.
            Coffee and Tea Leaf Co. withdrew their proposal as it was incumbent on approval of the Planning Department, which gave a preliminary “no” based on the new formula retail guidelines.

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          • Roy McKenzie says:

            Thank you Stephen! I hadn’t seen those posters yet. Looks like the SFist did a post about it today Weavers today too.

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          • rblack says:

            I’m very excited about this. I was disappointed with the Coffee and Tea Leaf going into this spot.

            However, Weaver’s sounds great so far, and this space needed filling for a long time.

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        • rblack says:

          Frankly, whether there are 2 coffee shops or 5 coffee shops shouldn’t matter, the market will decide which one it wants.

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        • Joe says:

          It’s all the trash, big bulky trash that coffee places produce. These big to-go cups fill up our limited trash cans, and end up as street litter. We all end up paying the Starbucks, Philz, Weaver trash bill. I’m fine with a coffee place, just have them only offer drinks in re-useable cups.

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          • Mark Vogel says:

            Joe, That would be an argument in favor of illy. Their cafe concept, as I understand it, is a sit-down, European style, have an espresso. The Nespresso flagship store downtown is the same way. There is no takeout.

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  2. Mark Vogel says:

    I haven’t seen any information as to when the permit was filed. Maybe the ‘hood associations just haven’t had time to react. You’re right: it’s ambiguous whether it will be considered formula retail, but only the Planning Dept., when it receives the permit, can decide that and, thus, whether it needs a CU permit as far as I know. If it doesn’t require a CU, there’s no more the neighborhood can do about it than, say, all the nail salons everywhere you turn.

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    • Mark Vogel says:

      Answered my own question. There is no application for a CU permit and the application went in back in March, so it may be smooth sailing.

      Type: Building Permit
      Permit No: 201303142233
      Permit Type: ADDITIONS, ALTERATIONS OR REPAIRS
      Description: CHANGE OF USE FROM A (E) RETAIL STORE TO A (N) CAFE.
      Received: 3/14/2013
      Status: Active

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      • Roy McKenzie says:

        Thanks for looking this up, Mark!

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      • Sanchez Resident says:

        Illy submitted their application in March and we are just now hearing about it? That is very interesting. Any ideas why this didnt come up for over 3 months after the permit process was started?

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    • rblack says:

      I adore how anti-nail salon you are. =D

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  3. rblack says:

    Im more excited to see how this all plays out, and how the different neighborhood groups react.

    I’d be fine if they went in there. They try to make each location unique and their marketing is ‘upscale’ which is different than Peets’s and all the others.

    Plus it’s a low visibility location. It’s a small space mid block.

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  4. Matthew says:

    This seems to be a chain. We can’t have em here! Get off my lawn! H

    ow is this place different than Starbucks opening up or Chipotle for that matter? Isn’t there a mom and pop coffee shop right next to the Castro Theater? This will destroy them, it being so close and bigger as well.

    (I am saying all this in jest mind you – but as you can see, why is one better than the other? Why is one chain allowed, but not another?)

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    • Sanchez Resident says:

      I dont think your questions are unreasonable. In jest, Illy might be ok because it is a foreign (Italy) company. I do see their tack of trying to open in the Castro with only 9 other USA locations as very logical. They realized that if they had 11 locations it would complicate their permit application.

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      • rblack says:

        I wonder if the fact that Ill’s long term plan is to open 200 stores worldwide will be used as a pre-emptive strike to reject their application.

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  5. Jon says:

    No No No… You said No to Chipotle and Starbucks Illy is another Chain!

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  6. Matthew says:

    Time to grab the pitch forks and fire up our torches! NO CHAINS ALLOWED! We are becoming Fishermans’s Wharf! This will destroy the neighborhood. We already have 3 coffee shops in a 3 block area! What about them?!? And from a little bird, the space that is right next to Fitness SF will be a coffee shop as well. NOT where the vitamin store used to be, but the space inside Fitness SF. If that is true, that would be 4 coffee shops in a 3 block area. Oh the humanity!

    ***more jest***

    I really can’t help myself with this one. Here is obvoulsly a chain (or soon to be one), and from what I hear it is being welcomed with open arms, but we say no to Chipotle, Starbucks, and constantly block any sort of progress for fear of being like Fisherman’s Wharf. The biggest complaint from people visiting this Gay Pride? (Besides the drunk straights that ruined Pink Saturday and the Pride festivites) The CLOSED SHOPS! Seveal people I spoke too commented on how sad the Castro has become.

    Perhaps we need to be more like Fisherman’s Wharf. ***more jest***

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    • Sanchez Resident says:

      If we become a fabulously gay destination that would be fine. The Randy Rooster planned for the BoA location at HMP would be a good start. Maybe more sexy places not available elsewhere, too. Nothing too family friendly. Nothing that would allow under 21. An adult playground for the gay at heart.

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  7. Mark Vogel says:

    I understand what people are saying about it being a chain disguised in sheep’s clothing, but, at the time the application was filed in March, it was not a chain under the City’s formula retail law which is 11 or more in the U.S. So legally, no conditional use (CU) application is required, and, like the nail salons that pop up seemingly overnight, one day in October (if all goes according to plan) you’ll wake up and find illy coffee waiting you. In all seriousness, it’s important to understand the CU distinction. Non-formula retail stores do not need it and, thus, do not undergo the neighborhood/public review. Nobody had any input into, say, hi tops, Pesce moving into the former Jakes, Dante’s Table, etc etc. for the same reasons.

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    • Sanchez Resident says:

      Thanks, Mark. That is very helpful. What happens if after the Illy shop opens the company is bought out by lets say Starbucks? Sort of of like what happened to the Community Pharmacy on Market being bought out by Walgreens.

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      • Mark Vogel says:

        Nothing can be done after the permit is issued. Some previously independent stores get bought by companies or LATER become formula retail. Not a thing anyone can do at that point. Super Duper, for example, seems to be well on its way to that, with 4 locations in S.F. now

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        • rblack says:

          Also, Starbucks bought La Boulange and they have a Hayes Valley location which has a complete ban on formula retail.

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          • Sanchez Resident says:

            These comments have confirmed the loopholes in the formula retail rules.

            I think I will form a shell corporation named Buckstars. My new business will lease and completely renovate the building at 2201 Market. Buckstars will sell designer upscale coffee beverages and gluten free muffins. After successfully running this single outlet business (no CU permit required) for a couple of months, I receive a buyout offer from a national coffee chain that I just can’t refuse. Buckstars becomes a Starbucks.

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  8. Ramón says:

    Bring back the bitter grumpy old men who occupied that space! They were the Castro’s very own Statler & Waldorf!

    Waldorf: I wish Gene Kelly would teach me to Charleston.
    Statler: I wish Gene Kelly would DRIVE you to Charleston!

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  9. Former Caffeine Addict says:

    You know, I’d like to maybe add a little perspective. We’ve talked a lot about Illy’s international presence and plans to expand exponentially in the future, but our “own” Peet’s deserves a look. It is now German-owned (by the same owners as Caribou Coffee), has plans to expand its 100 stores by about double in the next year (mostly in the Midwest and the East Coast), and is due for huge changes in many ways. So, when you look at Starbucks, Illy, and Peet’s, it’s important to view them all as large-scale companies who are all trying to do “large-scale coffee” in different ways.

    Also, On Market and Noe, a huge and shiny new coffee shop will be opening up called Weaver’s Coffee. It’s based in San Rafael and only has one other shop, but sells in grocery stores like Whole Foods, and also has plans for rapid expansion. Since this company doesn’t have quite the money and power of Peet’s and Illy (yet), can this be seen as the “local” of the three?

    I went to Castro Coffee Company today. I hope that little engine keeps on chuggin’ through all of this.

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    • Former Caffeine Addict says:

      BTW – John Weaver, of Weaver’s Coffee, was the master roaster for Peet’s for 23 years. So it will be interesting to see how the SF store turns out, and if SF Peet’s fans will follow him there.

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      • Sanchez Resident says:

        Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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        • Ferrin says:

          I don’t think so. They roast in San Rafael. It would be really expensive to build another one just for SF.

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      • Joe says:

        Peet’s is burned coffee. If he was the Master Roaster… YIKES

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  10. Tom says:

    Whenever I read about the “Castro coffee battles” find it interesting how Spike’s is never mentioned. Perhaps cause it’s a bit off the beaten path over on 19th street right above Castro?

    Castro Coffee is great too. Coffee, pastries and also pleasant friendly service!

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    • Stephen says:

      Spike’s has great coffee too. I think they don’t get mentioned much in these discussions because they are somewhat an island unto themselves over there. They are not in the dense concentration of coffee outlets in the Castro,. I love going there and picking up a cup of coffee on the way to the dog park..

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  11. Stephen says:

    I also forgot to mention that Starbuck’s really isn’t out of the game. Since they were rejected on the new Market Street location, they have begun construction on a huge new location built within Safeway. This new store will take up the entire front facade of Safeway between the two main entrances. They circumvented the Conditional Use Permit process as this is not technically a separate location, it is just a part of Safeway. This was probably always the “Plan B”.

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    • rblack says:

      The giant facade in front of Safeway does feel like a giant “fuck you” to the neighborhood. lol

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      • Stephen says:

        Agreed… in fact I believe it calls for a “fuck you” to be included in the new signage. lol

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        • Sanchez Resident says:

          Oh, I get it now. Whole Foods across the street and Safeway “fuck you”. Sounds like we are going to have a grocery store porno act on Upper Market. I wonder if kink.com is going to be involved.

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  12. Matthew says:

    Is it me or is the Castro becoming a Bank, Pharmacy, Coffee Shop, Nail Salon, Thai Resturant haven?

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  13. Stephen says:

    Sadly,it’s become a marginal at best strip mall.

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    • rblack says:

      That’s because there is no real plan other than “no formula retail!”

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  1. December 14, 2013

    […] reported a few months back that Illy Coffee was going to be opening up one of their cafe locations (the second in San […]

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  2. December 30, 2013

    […] Illy Coffee looking to open up shop next to Rolo on Market (49) […]

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  3. January 4, 2014

    […] we posted last week Illy, the international coffee brewer, is set to bring its high-end product to the Castro (2349 […]

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

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