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.

That is just about the saddest story I’ve ever heard!  I love Peet’s and read this not as a Peet’s story, - it’s a landlord making assumptions and not communicating story.  I hope things work out for Mr. Bechar.  :(

Yet another example of the rampant homogenization and chain-storization of the Coastside. A unique, cherished, and popular local establishment is crushed under the jack-boot of a heartless business plan. Absolutely unconscionable.

Raman does make the best chai on earth.  Please sign the petition (at Coastside Gourment Coffee or M Coffee) to save this Coastside treasure.  This is a unique Coastside establishment worth our collective efforts to save.

What’s wrong with this picture?  This doesn’t sound like the Peet’s coffe that I used to frequent in Berkeley in the early 80’s.

Comment 5
Thu, January 25, 2007 11:01am
Sam Carrieri
All my comments

Power outage on Tuesday January 23 around 7:30 pm. Does anyone know why the power went out in Casa del Mar On Tuesday 23 Jan? It didn’t come back on till around 1:30am Wednesday, was out about 6 hours. Ruined my Prison Break & 24 Tv shows.Didn’t see a thing about it in HMB paper. Am sure if power was out in the illustrous golf course neighborhoods it would have made the Review.

What about getting rid of that horrible looking liquor store, or the discount clothes shop or the run down Straw Hat Pizza?  If they are looking to bring upscale businesses to that area, why not focus on the businesses that are bringing the place down, rather than the place people really enjoy and brings a sense of community to the area?

I don’t get it.

We join the many voices in our Coastside to oppose the closing of Raman’s warm and welcoming source of great Chai and fellowship.  It my seem “good business” but it is wrong action! The tactics of this landlord only serve to diminish the efforts of the many who continually work so hard to build good will in our community.

Comment 8
Fri, January 26, 2007 11:07pm
Carl May
All my comments

There are only a few businesses left in HMB that have any appeal or utility at all for me. If Raman is forced out, there will be one less. Is there any space available to him elsewhere that would be as convenient for those of us who pop in for a quick cup and a bit of refreshing philosophy or wit before we blast out over 92 or down 1?

Carl May

As a follow-up to my comment above about the rampant chain-storization of the Coastside:

Popeyes Chicken Anybody?

Thanks Mr. Keet Nerhan! Just what we need. By the way, do you have any plans for buying Cunha’s Grocery store?

I understand that Starbuck’s and Peet’s have teamed up with Trader Joe’s to purchase Cunha’s.

They are changing the name to A Casinha.

I don’t think it’s a good idea.

I have to say this because it is marketing 101 - if his goal is to create an area that is more “consumer-friendly and tourist-friendly”, why Popeyes chicken?  My gut tells me, tourists won’t come to half moon bay for Popeyes.  I HAVE witnessed people driving from San Jose and San Francisco for a Chai. 

Are they going to integrate the Popeyes into the gas station?  Meaning, is it going to be a stand alone store or just something inside the gas station? 

Isn’t Popeyes a discount brand?  I only have seen them in East Palo Alto (years ago) and in low income areas of LA.

Although they’re right next to one another, the gas station and the portion of the shopping center to be occupied by Peet’s and New Leaf have different owners.

Popeye’s isn’t any more downmarket than KFC, but it does appear that generally the fried chicken chains tend be clustered in lower-income areas. I confess I like Popeye’s chicken a lot, although I’d prefer not to see another drive-thru at that intersection, along with another big, internally illuminated plastic sign.

Thanks Barry!  I had no idea. 

Good to hear that the chicken is good, since we will probably be smelling it every day.  :-)

I can hardly think of a less appropriate choice for a local business in our community.  At a time when cities across the country have placed a renewed emphasis on a healthy diet, we add a fried chicken chain to our list of regional cuisine.

The Review article says that Mr. Nerhan is discussing signage with the City.

We might as well just throw in the towel on defending the character of the town and erect a giant plastic chicken leg on the roof. That will signify to people what Half Moon Bay is really all about: making money anyway possible.

Has the deal to occupy the old Albertsons site with New Leaf Comm. Mkt. been finalized?

Comment 17
Thu, February 1, 2007 12:16pm
Cheri Parr
All my comments

As the resident “Good Ol’ Girl” from the South (Charleston, South Carolina thank you so kindly) you’re just not thinking big enough Kevin.  Here’s how we do it back home (and, why I live here now!)

Perfect Cheri. Although maybe a bit on the modest side for Mr. Nerhan, given his penchant for building things that are really, really big (Harbor Village).

People may wish to start learning the Popeye’s jingle and downloading cool Popeye’s screensavers to their computers—which are available here under “downloads.”

Thanks for the great idea Cheri! That’s the kind of positive thinking we need around here, instead of all the negativity going around these days!

I think we should have a giant Popeye or a Colonel Sanders bestride Highway 92, after the widending of course.

Jack McCarthy

>I can hardly think of a less appropriate choice >for a local business in our community.  At a >time when cities across the country have placed >a renewed emphasis on a healthy diet, we add a >fried chicken chain to our list of regional >cuisine.

I totally agree with this comment. We have so few opportunities for new businesses to spring up - why not use them wisely and prioritize something that’s good for the community?

Selecting Popeyes completely flies in the face of the current trend toward healthy food and a renewed sense of nutrition. The fact that it’s one of the first businesses that visitors and locals alike will see when entering HMB is somewhat embarrassing.

How about if a pedestrian bridge is built to aid foot traffic between Burger King and Popeyes over Highway One?  Now there’s an idea!
(Sorry if my silliness isn’t appreciated.)

Pedestrian bridge?  Why walk?  I would want more of a people mover…  Who wants to really move between dining at this establishments?  :-) 

And yes, your silliness is appreciated.

Comment 23
Fri, February 2, 2007 10:15am
Cheri Parr
All my comments

As the one who started down the path - I think this type of silliness beats some of the other kind Barry and I get on the site!  That being said - I have one word for you - Monorail! (Nod to fans of the Simpsons out there)

On the more serious side, this is what happens when you don’t pay close attention to what your elected officials are approving, both behind the scenes and in session.  And one of the reasons for Coastsiders continued commitment to making government meetings accessible to as many people as possible.  First it’s a Starbucks, next a Popeye’s, and pretty soon, rather than being know for the Pumpkin Festival, we’re “Half Moon Bay - Home of the Big Chicken”

Cheri I agree completely. Starbucks, Peets, Popeyes, The Harbor Village Mall. What’s next? Circus elephants along Highway 92? Oh wait, we already had that.

This is all just part of “The Man’s” grand plan.

As funny as all of the above is, I don’t understand why the Nerhan family wants such “crap” in our community.  Since their family is part of our town, why wouldn’t Keet consider what is appropriate for our town, perhaps in atonement for the “megamall” disaster he saddled the midcoast with, hence the entire coastside. Any possiblity of his changing his mind would be great.  And, years ago, we were promised large trees to mitigate the Holiday Inn Express.  Still waiting for those big bushes!
Dana Kimsey

The HMB Planning Commission denied Mr. Nerhan’s Drive-Thru project in January 2005 because he refused to do the initial environmental study required by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). This initial study would have cost Mr. Nerhan a whopping $2500.

Mr. Nerhan also wanted his project to be approved without disclosing what type of restaurant he would put there.

Here’s the link to the Review story about the PC denial:

Mr. Nerhan appealed the Planning Commission’s denial to the HMB City Council. The City Council overturned the Planning Commission’s decision on March 1, 2005.

Comment 27
Fri, February 2, 2007 5:02pm
Carl May
All my comments

Your sarcasm is wasted, folks. During its early Westinghouse years the “Harbor Village” project actually had plans for a tall fake lighthouse (presumably a beacon for shoppers who would have trouble seeing the modest little place from Highway 1?)! I believe it was gone by the time Nerhan got the development. Crude, bizarre stuff like this is sometimes put into plans so developers and/or government bureaurats can pretend to compromise by dropping an element that was unnecessary in the first place. Most politicians and some environmentalists hereabouts call such empty compromises “victories.”

I’m surprised we haven’t had more suggestions for a Raman’s House of Chai instead of the chicken grease pit in the gas station. On the other hand, Popeye’s would be yet another local source of bio-fuel. And you’re kidding, aren’t you—those who claim a fast-food chicken joint in an existing structure would make the haphazard, hardscaped blight of buildings and pavement at the intersections of 92 with Main Street and Highway 1 in HMB worse than it already is?

Carl May

As funny as all of the above is, I don’t understand why we’ve digressed from discussions about the Raman’s/Shami/Peet’s problem. Contrary to earlier postings, the issue is NOT on the City Council agenda for the coming Tuesday, 2/07/07, according to the City’s website as of 5:00PM, Friday.  What now?


Bring it up during oral communications.  A lot of high school kids are extremely upset about losing Raman’s, as are many adults, so I’m sure we’ll have plenty of speakers, hopefully some with solutions.  And I have to say Mike, some of those comments were a laugh out loud - a little refreshing change.

How about proposing a ban on all drive-thrus in HMB? Years ago the city of San Luis Obispo banned all drive-thrus (banks and fast-food) because of the environmental damage caused by the exhaust of idling cars. Is the weather ever so bad you can’t park and walk in? This may work in discouraging any more crappy fast-food restaurants from opening in HMB. Did anyone point out to Keet that the KFC up the road in Pacifica is closed because they did no business?