Philz Coffee is planning to take over the former Russian Hill Bookstore storefront at 2230 Polk Street which has been vacant for five months.

As proposed, while the interior of the Polk Street space would be renovated, the exterior would remain relatively the same, save some new signage.

But with 43 locations worldwide, including 13 stores and a mobile truck in San Francisco alone, and Formula Retail restrictions in place for the Polk Street Corridor, San Francisco’s Planning Commission will have to approve a Conditional Use application to allow Philz’s move.

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by sf12

    I”m all for restricting chains but shouldn’t there be an exception to the rule for brands that start with 1 store in SF and then grow over time into a succesful brand?

    • Posted by Notcom

      So would you include, for example, the GAP – which would seem to be the epitome of your definition – or would it be an exception…to the exception.

    • Posted by Onslow

      This is exactly why these silly retail bans are a joke.

      Do you hear yourself? Everyone has their own lame opinion on this stuff so it inevitably becomes a big cluster**** in which the people who scream the loudest and have the most spare time on their hands get their own arbitrary wishes, often at the expense of the majority who likely disagree.

      The only fair and sensible way is to let the market decide. If SF really doesn’t want chains they’ll go out of business. The very fact that people have to pass laws to keep them out PROVES that many people want them. An no, it’s not just tourists and out of towners.

      • Posted by ijustworkhere

        Of course people want chains. Large retail stores (large anything, really), are professionally managed; compared to small businesses they are more efficient, pay a greater proportion of revenue to labor rather than capital, and generally outcompete smaller outfits. Workers employed at large stores are paid more, receive more benefits, and have more legal protections. There is an HR department you can go to. There is dental. Even Starbucks offers a 401K. Sure, it’s cute when the small restaurant only hires family members, or members of a certain ethnic group, but a large chain is in jeopardy when it discriminates like that. That’s why large chains tend to outcompete most small businesses, and when there is direct competition, only the best small businesses survive, which increases overall quality.

        Even something as simple as a coffee shop — Why is the strip along Columbus filled with disgusting coffee? In North Beach? You have a couple of good coffee shops right at The Station and then you are in a coffee desert until you hit the Beacon across from the Public Library. Everything in between is pure garbage. I’ve sat down at each of those stores, ordered an espresso, and had to spit it out. But hey, no competition! Even a basic coffee shop has to regularly clean the machines, order fresh beans, not skimp on beans (what all of these “local” outfits do that are more than 10 years old). Espresso machines need to be serviced, the water pressure needs to be constant, mineral build up removed, stale beans need to be thrown away instead of served to customers, same for coffee that was sitting for too long after it was brewed, etc. I was in one of these local shops and asked for an Iced coffee and Iced tea, and the lady behind the counter took out a big plastic pitcher from a refrigerator, poured me two iced coffees, and when I reminded her I only wanted one, she poured one of them back into the pitcher and put it back in the fridge. A big chain wouldn’t be able to do that, in addition to providing more benefits, they would need to train their employees in basic sanitation.

        I really don’t know why people romanticize small business, but businesses grow when they are well run and efficient. There is usually a reason why one company has 100 stores and another only has 1. What they’ve done to North Beach, in particular, is incredibly sad. Yes, you get more colorful and variety of facades. But you pay very heavily at the counter for the level of service and quality that you get. As most people aren’t willing to do that, we pass these laws ensconcing uncompetitive businesses on one of our primary streets.

  2. Posted by Joe

    There was a philz about a block away years ago

  3. Posted by jimbo

    philz coffee is so mediocre, i just dont see how it thrives like this. just proves we are still not an elite coffee drinking town

    • Posted by Stakes is High

      Completely agree.

    • Posted by hmm

      what is elite coffee?

      • Posted by Amewsed

        Expensive, good tasting coffee? No idea.

        If I could make a good cup of coffee in a laboratory using a bunsen burner and reverse osmosis principles, can I charge $35 a cup?

    • Posted by Chris

      Starbucks thrives, too, even in “elite” coffee cities like Seattle and Portland.

      Philz is not my cup of tea (haha), but I don’t begrudge others for drinking it. You come across as a snob. Just enjoy what you enjoy, and don’t worry about what other people do. In fact, that is a good philosophy to apply to all areas of life. You can dislike Philz without being a snob.

    • Posted by dB

      Amen. The wait times and “precious process” there would lead you to think it was exceptional coffee…

    • Posted by Ohlone Californio

      What is an “elite coffee drinking town”? Vienna? Is there even another one?

  4. Posted by SFLandlord

    Philz is the new Starbucks. I understand the desire to grow their brand but it’s getting beyond excessive at this point and I find my self going less and less now. Also their coffee has way too much caffeine in it.

  5. Posted by Sierrajeff

    Too bad the bookstore’s still not there to co-habit the space; you could read a small novel in the time it takes for Philz to drip drip drip out a cuppa. (And it’d be less pretentious to stand around reading Nabokov than to pretend to give a d*mn about all the various bean options… I want a cup, and I want it now.)

    • Posted by sfcommie

      Just what I was thinking, minus pretentious pretention stuff. Plus Kerouac or Maupin instead of Nabokov. It’s San Francisco, man.

    • Posted by Ben B

      The bookstore is still there, just relocated one block south to a bigger and better space 🙂

    • Posted by Chris

      The bookstore is still in the neighborhood. It simply moved up Polk Street one block to a bigger space.

  6. Posted by elmerJFuddMillionaire

    What is happening to this street? Bring back Polkers…

    • Posted by Brian M

      and more skeevy-looking meth heads offering one a “good time” at mid day?

  7. Posted by Richard

    What’s happening to Polk Street? New people, new times. Nothing stays the same.

  8. Posted by Jlasf

    How many coffee places between Union and Broadway? Four?

  9. Posted by keenplanner

    Why is this news?

  10. Posted by B. B.

    they should make their signs bigger you can’t see it, so when you tell people “hey meet me under the philz” sign , they don’t and never show up and you realize late in the evening that they couldn’t see the sign yes that’s the reason they COULD NOT see the PHILZ SIGN that’s the only reason.

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