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Another Peet’s for Downtown, Underground, with Sippy Cups

By Judith Scherr
Friday April 04, 2008
The downtown Peet’s at the corner of Shattuck Avenue and Kittredge Street will soon be joined by 
                                            another a block away in the BART station.
Judith Scherr
The downtown Peet’s at the corner of Shattuck Avenue and Kittredge Street will soon be joined by another a block away in the BART station.

Commuting Peet-o-philes will no longer have to trudge the block or so from the downtown BART for their morning cup o’ joe.  

Come June, there will be a new Peet’s—Berkeley’s seventh —snug inside the downtown BART station. 

At first glance one might think that Peet’s and BART mix more like oil and water than coffee and milk, especially given BART’s hardline April 1 press release reminding riders: “BART police officers will ticket riders who eat or drink in the paid area,” that is, inside the gates and on the trains. 

But that does not worry Mark Lukin, president and CEO of Metropolitan Coffee and Concession, the company that’s putting Peet’s into eight BART stations around the Bay. 

The answer, Lukin says, is Metropolitan’s specially designed no-spill reusable thermal-plastic sippy cup—like the ones you see toddlers sucking on—a cup that riders could take on trains with BART’s blessing. Advertisers would subsidize the cups and Metro Coffee Peet’s outlets would take a dime off each drink they pour into one of the special sippy cups. 

“You can invert it and shake it,” Lukin said, noting that BART Board President Lynette Sweet likes the idea.  

Sweet, who represents part of Berkeley, told the Planet Thursday, “I think the sippy cup would be a wonderful addition.”  

She said BART needs to catch up with the times, now that technology can provide a no-spill cup.  

“You can’t ask people to buy the coffee, then give them a $250 fine for drinking it,” she said. 

Bob Franklin, who also represents parts of Berkeley on the board, said he needs more information on the cup. On the one hand, passengers sometimes ride the train for as much as 40 minutes and crave coffee. But on the other hand, they want clean trains. He said sippy cups are not spill proof—his toddler manages to spill liquids from his. 

As for the idea of Peet’s at BART? “It’s a good idea for a new source of revenue,” Franklin said, noting that the best places for them are at destination stations, where most people are coming into town in the morning, such as at Embarcadero in San Francisco or downtown Berkeley.  

Berkeley’s Economic Development Director Michael Caplan had not been contacted by BART and learned about the plan to put Peet’s in the downtown station from the Planet. He said the downtown has no quotas on coffee outlets. Some neighborhoods have a maximum number of certain kinds of businesses they permit. 

Although BART pays no property taxes to the city, Berkeley will benefit from Peet’s sales tax, just as it benefits from taxes on sales on UC Berkeley property. 

Asked whether Peet’s will be competing against itself and simply redistributing sales, Lukin told the story of a Starbucks in Portland that set up a second shop next to an established store.  

The second shop got the most sales and the original one increased its sales, he said, suggesting that could happen in downtown Berkeley. 

Peter Keim, Peet’s general manager of wholesale and licensing, said he thought the company would find new customers.  

Peet’s at BART will have more than the standard coffee and tea to attract customers. There will be tables and chairs and plasma TV.  

Asked whether the new Peet’s will hurt business at Tully’s Coffee, just up the escalator from the planned BART cafe, Caplan said, “There’s over 80 restaurants and cafes [in the area]. There’s usually a lively competition.” 

Reed McCann, lead barista at Tully’s was a bit less upbeat. “Personally, I’m not so hot about the idea. But as long as they’re not Starbucks, I’m not complaining.” 


Other downtown news 

Berkeley’s not going to have to wait till the opening of the new Peet’s to see new life downtown. 

On Tuesday, Cody’s celebrated its move to Shattuck Avenue with a grand opening marked by music and, according to Caplan, a gift certificate presented by Cody’s new landlord, Townsend Properties LLC, to the Berkeley Public Library to purchase $500 worth of books from Cody’s. 

Nearby, accompanied by fiddle music from kids and adults, Freight and Salvage broke ground on its new $12 million home Tuesday.  

Caplan said they’ll start construction immediately, even though they still lack some $3 million they need for the building. 

And up the street, Staples has opened, with its formal grand opening slated for April 9, to be accompanied by a gift of $1,000 to the Berkeley Education Foundation. 

The news from University Avenue is not so good, with the 24-year-old Plearn Restaurant having lost its lease. Its owners declined to talk about it but are looking for new restaurant space nearby.