Equator Coffee & Teas, which has made Mill Valley the centerpiece of its foray into cafes and retail shops, has signed the lease on the company’s first San Francisco café. The café is expected to open in the fall at 986 Market Street, between Fifth and Sixth streets, adjacent to Lowes Warfield—an historic space with roots as a vaudeville theater, and later as the iconic venue for acts such as Bob Dylan, The Clash, and Louis Armstrong.

Equator is working with the award-winning firm Boor Bridges Architecture to design a space that is as much rooted in the area’s history as it is in the company’s modern approach to coffee. The firm will blend a sleek and modern look with the building’s rich history, integrating state-of-the-art brewing technology and outdoor seating.

The café will be Equator’s third, after Proof Lab Surf Shop and the long-awaited café at 2 Miller Avenue in downtown Mill Valley, which is expected to open in late August.

Equator CEO Helen Russell said the decision to open in San Francisco’s burgeoning Mid-Market corridor is inspired by the company’s own origins as well as the area’s dynamic, blossoming culture. 

“The confluence of art, technology and start-ups in Mid-Market makes it dynamic and attractive to us,” she says. “We want to be in the mix. There is such a vibrant culture in San Francisco and we are circling back to our roots in coffee where we started 20 years ago with a coffee kiosk at 60 Spear Street.”

Equator launched in a garage in Corte Madera in 1995, later moving into a 5,400-square-foot warehouse near Davidson Middle School in San Rafael. The company has been primarily wholesale, with more than 250 customers that include chef Thomas Keller’s French Laundry and Tyler Florence’s El Paseo in Mill Valley. For the fast few years they’ve also been operating in San Francisco International Airport’s Terminal 2 at Napa Farms, which features other sustainable purveyors from Marin and the North Bay.

Russell says that Equator continues to make progress on its café at 2 Miller, which faced a number of permitting delays but is now projected to open in late August. 

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