Starbucks kiosk brews ire in Richmond district

After Starbucks was barred from opening a coffee shop in the Richmond district late last year by residents who are opposed to chain stores, the coffee mega-chain appears to have sneaked a kiosk into a nearby grocery store without filing the proper paperwork with The City.

The Board of Supervisors voted 9-1 in September to prevent Starbucks from opening a store at Geary Boulevard and Fifth Avenue after residents collected more than 4,000 dissenting signatures. Proposition G, which passed in 2006, forces retail chains with more than 11 stores to obtain permits based on their “desirability, compatibility and benefit” if they are to open a new store in The City. Starbucks has 6,793 U.S. stores, according to its Web site.

Supervisor Jake McGoldrick, who represents the Richmond district, said he started receiving complaints in mid-December from residents angry about a Starbucks kiosk that was built into a new Safeway store at Cabrillo Street and Eighth Avenue. His office forwarded the complaints to city planners.

“Since then,” McGoldrick said, “they’ve taken the signs down and they’re not selling hot coffee there, but they still are selling Starbucks products.”

Now, the kiosk is not attended by an employee, but shoppers can pick up coffee beans and tea from the kiosk then pay for them at the check-out.

City Planner Mary Woods told The Examiner that Starbucks did not file an application to open a kiosk in Safeway. She said the Planning Department would decide within a month whether the kiosk should be treated as a separate business, in which case it should have filed such a permit application.

“Do we treat that as a separate business, as a separate operation, or do we consider that a part of Safeway?” Woods said. “If they’re going to use their logo then it’s like they’re on their own — so it’s a separate business.”

Starbucks’ corporate office in Seattle did not reply to a phone message or two e-mails seeking comment. Safeway spokeswoman Sherry Reckler declined to answer questions. “The issue is being looked into,” she said.

jupton@examiner.com

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