In an interview with SFoodie, Elliott says his main objection to the
Blue Bottle cart is that the process wasn't transparent to the
neighbors/prospective competitors, many of whom are leading the
opposition to the cart. "If this had gone through the planning
department like any brick and mortar business," Elliott says, "it would have
been required to post signs in the window for several weeks. And there
would have to be a hearing.
But this was done through parks and recreation, and it was unfair
competition." He's also concerned that the lines in front of the cart will
further burden what he calls an "overstressed park," and that added
traffic won't make up for the revenue the carts generate.
other objections to the Blue Bottle cart are somewhat half-formed. He's
not aware of the specifics of the La Cocina cart, since that wasn't
discussed much at the meeting he attended, and doesn't want to discuss
it until he has more information. He defends the park as a
commercial-free zone, but the pot-truffle vendors (and possibly El Huarache Loco) are exempt from his
like Parks and Rec to revoke the current permits granted to Blue Bottle,
and suggests the department ask neighborhood
businesses to come up with the $30,000 that Blue Bottle estimates
they'll pay the city annually in rent. Blue Bottle, Elliott says, is a
$20 million business with the funds to absorb the loss of the park
license, and could surely find another use for the trailer.
Freeman, Blue Bottle's owner, was unaware of Elliott's website until
SFoodie contacted him, and said he had a very reasonable discussion
with the author at the October 7 meeting, though they disagreed about much. (As
for the $20 million figure, it's far below the company's revenue, he
says; he would not speculate on whether it reflects the current value of the
Right now, Freeman says, Blue Bottle is proceeding "on an as if basis,"
making final adjustments to bring the trailer to code and training the
staff. Many of his customers have expressed their anger about the brouhaha. "Ultimately, we don't get outraged," Freeman says. "That's not a
mentality that occurs to me. However, I don't want to send my people
into a place where they're going to get into a lot of conflict. It
doesn't matter if I think I'm right or wrong.
The cart was never going to be a huge business for us -- we have to pay
two hours' labor just to get there, and two more to clean up, so that's
four hours we're not selling coffee but paying labor. I did this because
I thought it was going to be charming and innocuous."
Anyone interested in joining the discussion is invited to a meeting at Dolores Park Cafe (501 Dolores) on Wednesday, Oct. 13, at 8:30 p.m. Elliott says that all opinions are welcome; however, the Blue Bottle cart opponents' future actions will be discussed there.
A timeline of SFoodie coverage of the cart and anti-cart protests: