Coastsiders working to save local coffee and chai shop from replacement by chain

By on Tue, January 23, 2007

Coastside Gourmet Coffee, near the old Albertson’s site, may soon be pushed out to make way for a Peet’s Coffee, and their customers are steamed, reports Julia Scott in the County Times. The shop is well known for serving an uncompromising cup of traditional chai.

Bechar himself only found out Wednesday that his cafe, which he rents on a month-to-month basis, would be closed. That’s when Half Moon Bay Mayor Naomi Patridge, a customer of Bechar’s for more than a decade, told him about the building permit submitted by landlord Maher Shami and asked him whether he was going out of business.

"I was totally taken aback. This was my livelihood," said Bechar, 67. "The first thing (Shami) should have done is to approach me and say, ‘I need to raise the rent or give you a lease.’"

"What we want to be able to do now is upgrade the entire center so it’s a little more consumer-friendly and tourist-friendly," said Shami. Bechar’s space, he added, is "run-down" and needs major capital improvements to bring it up to code — improvements he didn’t think Bechar would be able to afford, especially as Shami also plans to bring his rent up to market value after years of giving him a discount.

Customers are circulating petitions to the city council to do something about the situation.  As a sign of the solidarity Coastside’s coffee house culture, the petition can be found in M. Coffee on Main Street.  At M. Coffee this morning, I overheard one customer suggest that it might be a better idea to replace the Half Moon Bay Starbuck’s with a Peet’s.