July 10, 2014 Community

San Francisco’s Nautical Past Inspires Design of a new Fisherman’s Wharf Starbucks

There’s only one place on earth where the sounds of clanging cable cars and barking sea lions meet the scents of freshly-baked sourdough bread and salt air rolling off the foggy bay.

Sensational San Francisco.

The city’s Fisherman’s Wharf area is home to fishing vessels and pleasure boats, The Cannery, Ghirardelli Square, and the Hyde Street terminal where cable cars turn around to carry millions of tourists up and down the city’s hills.

Starbucks designers wanted to honor San Francisco’s history and attractions as they created a new store for tourists and locals alike. Replacing a smaller store near the intersection, a 4,400 square-foot Starbucks opened today at Hyde and Beach.

“Whether you’re a tourist walking by outside the store or a local customer inside, you’re a part of the story of San Francisco,” said Min Cho, Starbucks director of store design for the Western Pacific region. “Not many locations have these kinds of natural features with Fisherman’s Wharf out the window, the water, the cable cars, and the brick facade of the Argonaut Hotel.  It’s remarkable.”

San Francisco’s nautical past inspired the design team. Starbucks logos are subtle welcoming beacons on the corners of the exterior. A delicate steel portal, made of ship’s hull material, frames front door. Inside, customers arrive at a high platform that reveals an overview of the space and is somewhat reminiscent of stepping on board a ship. A gentle, cascading staircase leads to another platform, where eyes are drawn to the bar area where baristas handcraft beverages. From there, additional stairs lead to the main floor of polished concrete with a bright, inviting seating area.

Artist Kyler Martz has playfully portrayed elements of the city’s history on a concrete wall which was discovered during demolition of the previous space. The artwork features the Port of San Francisco’s Ferry Building with an octopus at the bottom of the tower, and whimsical cable car with a whale's head and tail.

The store’s locally relevant appearance pairs with the taste experience offered at the Hyde and Beach Starbucks. The store serves some of the most unique small batch coffees sourced from around the world as part of the Starbucks Reserve® coffee line.

“We built a large steel tasting table to celebrate coffee,” said senior store designer Erich Mele. “A lot of tourists may not have reserve coffees available in their markets. Through tastings and interactions with our baristas, customers will have a high level coffee experience.”

“Erich went the extra mile to make sure he curated the coffee experience in a special way,” Cho added. “This is not something that’s off to the side. It’s designed to be an invitation to join us, sit down at our family table and let us talk with you about coffee.”

While the customer’s connection with coffee is central inside the store, Starbucks relationship with the community is also a focus.  

David Chu was raised in San Francisco and admits as a child he “couldn’t wait to get out of the city.” Although he liked his neighborhood’s diversity and culture, Chu’s family didn’t have a car and he wanted to be able to drive and explore other places. He didn’t go far.

“As an adult I realize how beautiful San Francisco is. It’s a privilege to work here and give back to the community,” said Chu, Starbucks regional vice president for Northern California.

Over the past four years thousands of Starbucks partners have worked on community service projects in San Francisco, ranging from painting school classrooms and tutoring students to cleaning up parks and planting trees.

“We’re proud to be a part of this community,” he said. “There’s no place like it on earth.”

Photos by Matthew Glac for Starbucks

For more information on this story, contact the Starbucks Newsroom