At left, Round House Cafe at the Golden Gate Bridge. Photo by Paul Myers/Parks Conservancy. At right, a rendering, courtesy architect Sarah Fucinaro, of the Equator Coffees cafe in the space.

In the (hopefully) waning months of a pandemic that ravaged Marin businesses, Equator Coffees, which opened its Proof Lab cafe in 2013 and its 2 Miller Ave. cafe in downtown Mill Valley in 2014, is back in expansion mode after a year-plus rollercoaster ride that brought plenty of turbulence but also success with its pivot to a hard ecommerce push.

Founders and Mill Valley residents Helen Russell and Brooke McDonnell announced this week that they’ve garnered the lease to take over the historic, circular art deco Round House Cafe, which the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy announced the closure in early 2020. Located at the southern end of the Golden Gate Bridge with 360-degree views  the cafe boasts some of the heaviest foot traffic in the entire Bay Area, and will serve local-caliber espresso, hot chocolate, kale salads, and avocado toast as soon as Labor Day holiday weekend, according to Eater SF

“To see this iconic, legendary bridge that we’ve all read about, and to know that the Round House Cafe has been there since the 30s — it’s an amazing opportunity for Equator to move into a space and honor its history and heritage, and also create memorable experiences for all those who travel through our doors,” Russell said in a statement.

The 1,600-square-foot space, which opened in 1938, not long after the completion of the bridge itself, is being redesigned by architect Sarah Fucinaro.

The bold move is the latest reminder of Equator’s strategic growth that dates back to when the company dealt with the fallout from the decision by Pascal Rigo, owner of the chain of 19 La Boulange cafes, for which Equator was the coffee roaster, to sell his business to Starbucks, thus ending the 13-year La Boulange-Equator relationship and gutting 12 percent of Equator’s revenue. 

Equator opened a cafe on Market Street between 5th and 6th streets in downtown San Francisco, as well as cafes in downtown Larkspur, in SF’s Fort Mason, near Lake Merritt in Oakland and on Second Street in SF in the the lobby of the new LinkedIn offices. It permanently closed its location next to the Warfield theater on Market Street. Equator’s wholesale accounts include Google, Twitter, Slack, and LinkedIn.

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