By CHRIS BARNETT
Trendy Blue Bottle Coffee has confirmed it may open a cafe in the storefronts previously occupied by Tully’s Coffee and Juicy News magazine shop at 2453 and 2455 Fillmore. The new landlord reportedly intends to demolish the wall between the stores and combine them into a single space.
Several real estate sources claim that James Freeman, founder of Blue Bottle Coffee, based in Oakland, bought the two spaces to create his fifth coffee shop in San Francisco.
However, Freeman, identified on the Blue Bottle website as “a slightly disaffected freelance musician and coffee lunatic,” refused to be interviewed about the Fillmore venture.
A representative at his publicity firm said the project “is very much not confirmed.” Then the firm issued a one-paragraph statement in which Freeman confirmed he does indeed hope to open on that key corner:
Blue Bottle Coffee is excited to be pursuing a new cafe located at Jackson and Fillmore Streets in San Francisco. Like most cafes, there are a surprising amount of steps that need to take place in order to make it a reality, but we’re very excited about the prospect of joining this lovely neighborhood. I have admired the building for many years. We will have more details regarding the process and timing of the cafe very soon.
In an extraordinary example of corporate secrecy, it’s difficult to divine exactly who is the landlord.
This much is certain. On November 22, 2013, Jackson + Fillmore Estates LLC was formed and registered with the state of California so that property can be held in the name of the limited liability company, rather than a person. The following January, the entity bought the storefronts from longtime real estate investor Michael Steele.
Who is behind the ownership is significant. Last November, the Seattle-based Tully’s coffeehouse on the corner of Fillmore and Jackson had to shut down when the new owner of the building demanded a 74 percent rent increase when the lease expired. A brokerage source said the landlord wanted $11,000 a month. The closing ended Tully’s presence in San Francisco, where the company once had a number of stores.
Juicy News, the news and magazine operation next door, was also denied a new lease at the end of last year. Juicy News closed on March 15 and plans to reopen in early April at 2181 Union Street.
One person who could be playing an important role in the changeover is Nancy Frumkes, an event planner and interior designer in Belvedere. Frumkes reportedly collected the rent for the new owner and was the contact person for tenants. But Frumkes refused to talk about Blue Bottle Coffee or the new ownership. Contacted at her office, a woman picked up the phone, denied she was Frumkes and did not answer subsequent calls.
No permits have currently been filed with the city to renovate and redesign the two retail shops into a Blue Bottle Coffee cafe. One possible reason: The two storefronts are separate commercial condominiums and combining them could be complicated.
Filed under: Food, Drink & Lodging