On Aug. 23, Wrecking Ball Coffee Roasters will open its doors at 1600 Shattuck Ave., a space previously occupied by Philz Coffee.
Nick Cho and Trish Rothgeb founded Wrecking Ball Coffee Roasters in 2011, and currently have two other locations in San Francisco, according to Cho. Soon after Philz Coffee left the space at the end of 2018, Cho said they were invited to take a look around and felt that it had potential.
Cho said that as a small company, creativity and vision are necessary for success. He said that its goal is to create an inclusive community space, knowing that fancy coffee shops have become spaces where “very often” only affluent white people and those of Asian descent have access.
“A lot of what we’re trying to do here at Wrecking Ball is to recalibrate the idea of a community café space,” Cho said.
According to Cho, one way Wrecking Ball shows this is through a mural taking up the majority of the back wall. Painted primarily with spray paint by Korean artist Chris Chanyang Shim, the mural features Maeva Deroche. Deroche is a French and Caribbean model who became friends with Shim while living in Seoul. Cho said that the image of a black woman in traditional Korean dress makes people curious, and that the celebration of multiple cultures together is central to the café’s values.
The café itself contains multiple design styles. A section by the window, Cho said, will be the kids’ area. The middle of the room is set up like a living room, with couches, armchairs and a coffee table. Cho described another side of the room as “college library-inspired,” with a wooden table, matching chairs and green glass lamps positioned along it.
“That’s very intentional,” Cho said. “We wanted to acknowledge that a lot of students will come through and create a sort of natural study space.”
Employees and owners at neighboring businesses have said they are excited for Wrecking Ball to fill the space. Jesse Savell, one of the owners of the nearby Poulet, said that Philz Coffee closing “left a void” in the area, as he said it had drawn many customers, particularly students, to the area. Savell said he noticed a drop in foot traffic on Saturdays since the closure of Philz Coffee, adding that he’s welcoming of new places to the neighborhood.
Koji Fujioka, an employee at The Local Butcher Shop, situated around the corner from Wrecking Ball, said he’s glad to have more private, local businesses, rather than chains, in the area.
Cho said he recognized and understood some people’s disappointment about the absence of a Philz Coffee on Shattuck Avenue. Visiting a coffee shop is often a part of many people’s daily habits, Cho said, so changes affect them. However, he added that he has heard excitement about Wrecking Ball as well.
“One of the things that makes running coffee shops really fun is the same thing that makes running coffee shops sometimes difficult: that people really love the coffee shop they go to,” Cho said.