Castro Street Corner

As proposed, SoulCycle will take over the iconic Bank of America building formerly occupied by Diesel at 400 Castro Street, Philz Coffee will move into David Chiu’s former campaign office space at 549 Castro Street, and Hamburger Mary’s will occupy the former Patio Restaurant and Café space at 531 Castro Street which has been vacant for over a decade.

With eleven or more locations world-wide, each of the three businesses are either considered “chains” and subject to San Francisco’s Formula Retail restrictions, as is the case for Philz and Hamburger Mary’s, or will be subject to the restrictions come January as the definition for formula retailers in San Francisco is expanded to include “personal service” establishments such as SoulCycle.

As Philz would be relocating to the Castro Street site from their current location at 4023 18th Street, and thus not adding to the concentration of formula retail establishments in the district, the addition of Hamburger Mary’s and SoulCycle would bring the count of formula retailers in the area to 13 out of 158 total establishments.

And this Thursday, December 4, San Francisco’s Planning Commission will decide the fate of the proposals with San Francisco’s Planning Department recommending approvals for all three.  While not yet subject to San Francisco’s Formula Retail restrictions, the size of the proposed SoulCycle is what triggered its hearing.

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by Mark

    I frequent both chains and independents and support the addition of these retailers to the Castro neighborhood. If people have issues with chains then boot out Safeway, Starbucks, Walgreens, Pottery Barn and every single bank, for starters.

  2. Posted by Joshua

    A gym, a bar, and a coffee shop. That’s the Castro.

    • Posted by Chris

      More like that is pretty much every neighborhood in SF. From the Inner Sunset to Russian Hill to Ocean Boulevard they each have all three (and usually more than one of each).

    • Posted by Buena Vista Cafe

      a jim walks into a bar and orders an irish coffee. that’s san francisco.

  3. Posted by brid

    Excellent. The not-so-strong-wrist of some of the former “Merchants of Upper Market & Castro” has been s***-stirring away behind the scenes here trying to protect their own little fiefdoms. Probably about four real active but politically-juiced individuals….They’ve been behind recent disapproval of other new business ventures.

    Time to up your game, boys (and gal).

  4. Posted by Joseph A

    the 3 chains are not the typical , and will add needed retail, and service, and supply jobs to the area , it should get a fast green light

  5. Posted by Ethan

    Sad very sad that we are getting Hambuger Mary’s forced down our throats. We don’t need trash like this.

    • Posted by chris

      Who is forcing it down your throat? The space is currently empty, so you are not losing anything. If you don’t like the business, don’t ever go there, and guess what? Your problem is solved. There are dozens of other restaurants in the Castro neighborhood to patronize, so stop playing the phony victim.

    • Posted by Anon

      Why didn’t you open up something in the long vacant space then?

      • Posted by asdf

        Because the man who owns the space insists on keeping all the bar receipts as part of any lease agreement. Even with Planning Commission approval I have no faith that the owner will manage to open anything in that space for as long as he owns it. The retail space next door to it remains empty, as does the former dry cleaners owned by him on 18th Street.

  6. Posted by Someone stole my burrito

    I enjoy a mix of quality chains with great local businesses. Yes, even with the endless authentic local options, sometimes I just want to go to Chipotle™. The problem with SF is the chains it does let in are in excess. Rite-aid, Walgreen’s, Starbucks.

    Now you can hate my comment. Use the word suburbia a few times, etc.

    • Posted by Sierrajeff

      No, you’re absolutely right. It’s ludicrous that the city purports to try to protect some mom-and-pop clothing store or coffee shop, then turns right around and grants permits for the 69th Walgreens within our mere 49 square miles. (Seriously, as of May 2012 there were 68 Walgreens in San Francisco.) Given the breadth of products sold at a modern “drugstore”, they compete with virtually every business from pharmacies to clothing stores to groceries and even coffee shops.

      • Posted by pro-dev-Castro

        When was the last time chain drugstores had mom and pop businesses around to compete with them? I believe they were called apothecaries back then.

        • Posted by Sierrajeff

          Did you even read my comment? My point was that what passes for a “drugstore” today sells everything from clothes to ready-to-eat food. And so a Walgreen’s competes with far *more* businesses than just a local mom-and-pop drugstore.

  7. Posted by moz

    Someone will probably decide the name “Mary” is offensive and force them to close and/or change the name.

  8. Posted by jhaight

    I cannot agree with most all of the commentors. I was waiting for this to happen as the vacancy rate in The Castro was higher as compared to other neighborhoods. I believe most of us are tired of a few controlling the retail scene in our neighborhoods. Independent businesses and chains both provide jobs and some of those chains are owned by an independent franchisee (mom and pop). They can operate in harmony and provide greater variety. I for one, would like to just get a quick $6 Subway sandwich in Hayes Valley, but because of the limit, I wiould have to go out of my way. I sugget no more than 20% of businesses can be chain-not an outright ban!

    • Posted by SFCitizen

      There is an easy loophole in the formula retail rules. You need to open a sandwich shop in Hayes Valley. Configure the space to be somewhat like a Subway but not exactly. Your signage should be different from the chain’s. Then, after you’ve been open for a few months, get Subway to “buy you out”. Your little sandwich shoppe becomes a Subway. Ta-Da!

      • Posted by Joel

        Can you point to an example of where that’s happened? I thought it would still require a CU permit.

        • Posted by SFCitizen

          Community Pharmacy became a Walgreen’s on Market.

          • Posted by Joel

            It’s not really a loophole, since they’re currently in violation of the code. Eventually they’ll either have to close or get a CU.

          • Posted by SFCitizen

            Joel – I checked the propertymap info on the sfplanning website regarding the business change. If I understand the information correctly, the compliant was closed early this year. Does this mean that Walgreen’s got away with the buyout of Bioscrip Pharmacy?

    • Posted by JWS

      For what it’s worth, there is a Subway at Van Ness and Fell, literally a block away from Hayes Street and three blocks from Patricia’s Green.

  9. Posted by brid

    Guess I’ll be seeing everybody at today’s hearing – City Hall, Room 400, noon! Be there, or Be Mary….

  10. Posted by asdf

    So what happened?

    • Posted by brid

      Commission approved all three. Some “small print” to-and-fro right at the end regarding 531 Castro but resolved to every bodies satisfaction. One speaker each spoke against Philz and Hamburger Mary’s but to no effect.

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