When the new year began, South Park found itself trending downward in the coffee department. The end of 2017 brought with it the closing of longtime community hub, Rebecca’s Coffeehouse. For a quarter century, Rebecca’s scones, open-mic events, and charmingly shabby space stood as a fixture in the community. But as property values in the neighborhood have shot ever upward in the past 25 years, the owner of its building reportedly received offers for triple the rent Rebecca’s was paying and decided to end the coffee shop’s lease.
Along with the closing of the similarly beloved Claire de Lune Coffee Lounge in North Park two years back, the sort of spacious, upholstered, folk-music-and-poetry-styled coffeehouse is becoming a relic of the 20th Century.
But South Park will not have to wait long or look far for a preplacement. Two new specialty coffee shops are set to open in 2018, bringing relatively new but familiar brands to the neighborhood.
First up will be a second location for Communal Coffee, the North Park café recognizable to many as the Coffee + Flowers ship, due to the large painted sign fronting the building Communal shares with the florist, Native Poppy.
Slated to open March 13th, Communal will be taking over the 2000-square-foot vacant lot a half block south of the old Rebecca’s location (2221 Fern Street, South Park). Communal has converted a 1959 Shasta trailer to operate as an espresso bar, which will sit on the lot serving its regular lineup of coffees brewed with beans from Bay Area roaster Sightglass Coffee.
While the outdoor coffee shop won’t exactly replace Rebecca’s in the hearts and minds of many South Parkers, Communal founder Jen Byard lives in the neighborhood and has set out to build a community-friendly space. Equipped with flowers from Native Poppy, Communal is developing a garden-like space around a spacious patio. The lot is also being fashioned with a small stage for acoustic performances, speaking events, and movie nights.
In lieu of scones, Communal will offer granola bowls, toasts, and pastries, including bagels and donuts from North Park’s Nomad Donuts.
Communal’s opening will come just ahead of the spring rendition of seasonal neighborhood event, South Park Walkabout, on March 17th, where Byard plans to celebrate the opening with an open house featuring live performances and free coffee.
That Walkabout should also provide South Park’s first introduction to incoming coffee roaster Seven Seas Roasting Co.
Seven Seas currently serves coffee at weekly farmers’ markets in both Pacific Beach and North Park and sells beans online through its own website as well as Amazon.com. Owner Eric Dobbs reports Seven Seas is entering the design phase at a location just a few blocks south of the Communal location, also on Fern Street (1947 Fern St #4, South Park) and hopes to open the space to the public within the next six months.
Seven Seas will offer a different customer experience and signature drinks than Communal, and between the two Dobbs envisions South Park coming back to thrive as a coffee neighborhood. “The property values are rising,” he says, “and the coffee game is rising, too.”