A pair of shipping containers have been tucked into a small vacant lot on Bay Place behind Rouse Tires and Pacific Strength Crossfit—but they're not storage for tires or gym equipment.
The Marin-based mini-chains, whose founders are friends from the early days, already sell each other's products or operate side-by-side in other parts of the Bay Area. While Urban Remedy, which sells juices and cleanse packages along with other organic foods, has capitalized on health trends, Equator has been a part of the third-wave coffee boom.
Both are, of course, already sold at the Whole Foods across the street, and are popular with people who can afford meal-priced juices and coffees. The new locations will offer more, freshly-made selections.
Equator, which won the 2016 National Small Business of the Year award from the US Small Business Administration, is also a certified B corporation—a designation that involves commitments to suppliers, employees, communities and other "stakeholders," not just financial shareholders.
To hear more about the plans, we caught up with Akaash Saini, community manager at Equator. Here's a brief email interview:
First, what's the exact address you're going to be at?
175 Bay Place, Oakland. *
How will the location be similar to or different from other Equator locations?
This café will be similar and different to our other locations. We will offer delicious coffee, tea, grab-and-go food made from our kitchen, local beer, and wine! Just like our other cafés, we will activate the space with community events, meetups, bike rides, and runs!
The major difference is this will be our first shipping container café! Customers will be able to interact with baristas in the container while enjoying their drinks on our outdoor patio! Our friends Urban Remedy will be in the shipping container next to us.
How does Uber's decision not to move to Oakland affect your plans (if at all?)
It doesn't affect our plans at all. We're focusing on the Adams Point/Grand Lake neighborhood as our main community. This space is currently a private parking lot that isn't doing much for the community.
Equator has moved into some mixed-income city areas before, like on Market Street in San Francisco. What's your approach here, especially given all the tensions in Oakland these days?
Whether we're moving into Oakland or Mill Valley, we strive on hiring locals, engaging with the community through events, and providing a space for our community to come together. We truly believe that our cafés are an extension of our customers' living room.
Specifically, high-end coffee shops are often seen as a symbol of gentrification. How does this shape your plans here?
As a LGBTQIA-certified company, we strive to be inclusive for people of all backgrounds. We employ and engage with those in often overlooked marginalized communities.
* Editor's note: Google Maps currently shows this address as the parking lot of the Veterans' Memorial Building, but Equator says the containers will get the numbers once the lot is officially converted to a new street-facing location.
Thanks to Shirley Y. for the original tip.
Do you have a question about a business in Oakland? Text your tip and a photo to 510-757-9959—if we use your info in a story, we'll give you credit.