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Oceanside's coffee explosion brings mixed reactions

"We need to be true to our roots"

Vilai and Roger Thavarajah of Brown Cup say new competition is fine; lack of parking, traffic noise not so much.
Vilai and Roger Thavarajah of Brown Cup say new competition is fine; lack of parking, traffic noise not so much.

Oceanside civic leaders used to fret over unwanted businesses. They would complain over too many barber shops and dry cleaners that served Camp Pendleton Marines.


Oceanside once was home to three topless bars. Now there are none.


Gentrification squeezed out downtown honky-tonks which some locals saw as too rough or raunchy.


Coinciding with its massive upscaling over the last decade, Oceanside is now seeing an explosion of coffee shops. This frappuccino frenzy is drawing mixed reactions.


Regarding the opening of a new Starbucks on Coast Highway last week, Robert Fry posted online: "Oceanside is such a sellout. Coast Hwy is starting to become all corporate business.... There goes three mom and pop coffeehouses down the street."

After 30-plus years, one of three Angelos in Oceanside is set to become a Better Buzz coffee house.


From Bounds Coffee in South Oceanside to the newly-opened Starbucks 12; miles north, there are now 29 coffee shops on Coast Highway or on adjacent streets. That number includes the pending arrival of a new Pannikin now being built out in the historic Bunker House, a building the city says is "a designated historical resource."


The City of Oceanside has also received plans to convert two longtime eateries into franchised coffee shops. Those plans call for the Hillcrest-based Better Buzz chain to take over the space of an Angelo's cafe on Coast Highway and the El Pollo Loco near Oceanside High School. Both restaurants have been serving Oceanside locals for a combined 50-plus years.


The invasion of corporate cappuccino cafes has caused some long established independent coffee houses to cry uncle. One independent operator who did not want to be named says that the new influx of sterile storefronts may just end up sinking his longtime cafe. "Locals don't want all this gentrification. It is killing the soul of Oceanside. These corporations are coming in and killing the independent operators. Just look at what's happening down here," he says of the existing and planned residential high-rises. "The city seems to think that everything is now all about tourism. This is not our Oceanside."

The historic Bunker House is being refashioned into a Pannikin.


Another proprietor who asked not to be named says she is surprised that the City of Oceanside has permitted such an unrestricted free-for-all by allowing so many similar coffee-centric businesses. "I heard that they would have a limit of how many restaurants like this would be allowed to come downtown."


But the fact is, unless you want to open a storefront that deals in certain restricted areas (liquor stores, cannabis sales, self-storage units, massage parlors) Oceanside does not set limits on business types. "The city doesn't specify like that," says Michelle Geller, Oceanside's economic development manager. She suggests Oceanside's coffee house boom, is not necessarily a bad thing.


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"I don't know anyone who doesn't drink coffee," says Geller. "I assume this is happening because the market is demanding it. Breweries and coffee shops are gathering places. It gives locals a chance to socialize."

Will the new Starbucks on Coast Highway torpedo area mom-and-pops?


But Carlos, a longtime local who works at a downtown taphouse, says enough already with the coffee thing. "It's like there's now one on every corner."  And it's just not quantity. Carlos says some new coffee hangouts just don't belong in Oceanside. "Revolution Roasters, for instance, has never been an ideal fit for the vibe of the community. Some places have a lot of character and fit in with the locals. It seems like too many new places are all about the transients and the tourists. I'm tired of everyone coming trying to act like Oceanside is Carlsbad when It's not. We need to be true to our roots."


The husband/wife proprietors of the Brown Cup across from the Star Theater say they trust the clientele they've developed over seven years will stay loyal. In fact, it's not the new competition that bugs Roger and Vilai Thavarajah. Vicai says the Brown Cup is challenged with the same problem that affects all downtown merchants: a lack of parking.


Husband Roger says the Brown Cup and other storefronts on Coast Highway are tormented all day long by loud motorcycles and obnoxious cars that go completely unchecked.


"A city councilman who agreed with me once told me that he would get a traffic officer [from Oceanside Police] to come in and talk to me about it. But no one ever showed up. Nothing ever happened." He says it's different in Carlsbad where noise polluters are not welcome. "They have signs that forbid [noisy vehicles] and those signs are enforced. They don't have that problem like we do in Oceanside. No one in the city here cares. But it's a non-stop hell for businesses."


The eight-month-old 1022 Cafe and Gelateria is two blocks east of Coast Highway on Mission Avenue so they do not have to deal with traffic noise. But they agree that the lack of parking in downtown Oceanside is an issue they did not know about until they opened their coffee-and-gelato shop eight months ago. "Parking is a big problem," says co-owner Eric Levy. He says the huge amount of coffee joints set to pop up in Oceanside will mostly impact storefronts "...that only sell coffee." He maintains that 1022 Cafe thrives because it specializes in 12 different gelato flavors made fresh daily.


Connor Goodman, the other 1022 Cafe co-founder, admits that the arrival of two new Better Buzz stores may impact the bottom line of all local coffee providers once they open. But he says that the fact Better Buzz is bullish on Oceanside, "...shows that this neighborhood has arrived as a place where people want to be." Better Buzz currently operates 14 storefronts.


Place

Better Buzz

578 South Coast Highway 101, Encinitas

One observer wondered if the massive response to the Dutch Brothers drive-through operation on Oceanside Boulevard a year ago may have influenced Better Buzz to invest in two Oceanside drive-through facilities. Although business has tapered off somewhat, the Dutch Brothers store regularly maintained lines of 20 cars waiting for service.


A request for comment from Better Buzz was not returned. A  representative of the family-run Angelo's which has operated in Oceanside since the 70s, said the cafe would have no comment at this time.


Oceanside's coffee house portfolio now includes 15 on Coast Highway including Bound Coffee, Captain's Grounds, Revolution Roasters, Vigilante, Plantology, 101 Bagel, North County Roasters, Alohana, Banana Dang, Seaborn, Petite Madeline, Brown Cup, Jitters and Starbucks and the upcoming Better Buzz at 1050 South Coast Highway (now Angelo's).


Other coffee-centric businesses adjacent to Coast Highway include The Cup, 1022 Cafe, Pier View Coffee, Ignite, Jet Fuel, Camp Coffee, Dutch Brothers, Black Rock, Communal, Succulent Cafe, and two Starbucks. A Better Buzz storefront is planned at at El Pollo Loco and a Pannikin is being built at the Bunker House.

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Vilai and Roger Thavarajah of Brown Cup say new competition is fine; lack of parking, traffic noise not so much.
Vilai and Roger Thavarajah of Brown Cup say new competition is fine; lack of parking, traffic noise not so much.

Oceanside civic leaders used to fret over unwanted businesses. They would complain over too many barber shops and dry cleaners that served Camp Pendleton Marines.


Oceanside once was home to three topless bars. Now there are none.


Gentrification squeezed out downtown honky-tonks which some locals saw as too rough or raunchy.


Coinciding with its massive upscaling over the last decade, Oceanside is now seeing an explosion of coffee shops. This frappuccino frenzy is drawing mixed reactions.


Regarding the opening of a new Starbucks on Coast Highway last week, Robert Fry posted online: "Oceanside is such a sellout. Coast Hwy is starting to become all corporate business.... There goes three mom and pop coffeehouses down the street."

After 30-plus years, one of three Angelos in Oceanside is set to become a Better Buzz coffee house.


From Bounds Coffee in South Oceanside to the newly-opened Starbucks 12; miles north, there are now 29 coffee shops on Coast Highway or on adjacent streets. That number includes the pending arrival of a new Pannikin now being built out in the historic Bunker House, a building the city says is "a designated historical resource."


The City of Oceanside has also received plans to convert two longtime eateries into franchised coffee shops. Those plans call for the Hillcrest-based Better Buzz chain to take over the space of an Angelo's cafe on Coast Highway and the El Pollo Loco near Oceanside High School. Both restaurants have been serving Oceanside locals for a combined 50-plus years.


The invasion of corporate cappuccino cafes has caused some long established independent coffee houses to cry uncle. One independent operator who did not want to be named says that the new influx of sterile storefronts may just end up sinking his longtime cafe. "Locals don't want all this gentrification. It is killing the soul of Oceanside. These corporations are coming in and killing the independent operators. Just look at what's happening down here," he says of the existing and planned residential high-rises. "The city seems to think that everything is now all about tourism. This is not our Oceanside."

The historic Bunker House is being refashioned into a Pannikin.


Another proprietor who asked not to be named says she is surprised that the City of Oceanside has permitted such an unrestricted free-for-all by allowing so many similar coffee-centric businesses. "I heard that they would have a limit of how many restaurants like this would be allowed to come downtown."


But the fact is, unless you want to open a storefront that deals in certain restricted areas (liquor stores, cannabis sales, self-storage units, massage parlors) Oceanside does not set limits on business types. "The city doesn't specify like that," says Michelle Geller, Oceanside's economic development manager. She suggests Oceanside's coffee house boom, is not necessarily a bad thing.


Sponsored
Sponsored

"I don't know anyone who doesn't drink coffee," says Geller. "I assume this is happening because the market is demanding it. Breweries and coffee shops are gathering places. It gives locals a chance to socialize."

Will the new Starbucks on Coast Highway torpedo area mom-and-pops?


But Carlos, a longtime local who works at a downtown taphouse, says enough already with the coffee thing. "It's like there's now one on every corner."  And it's just not quantity. Carlos says some new coffee hangouts just don't belong in Oceanside. "Revolution Roasters, for instance, has never been an ideal fit for the vibe of the community. Some places have a lot of character and fit in with the locals. It seems like too many new places are all about the transients and the tourists. I'm tired of everyone coming trying to act like Oceanside is Carlsbad when It's not. We need to be true to our roots."


The husband/wife proprietors of the Brown Cup across from the Star Theater say they trust the clientele they've developed over seven years will stay loyal. In fact, it's not the new competition that bugs Roger and Vilai Thavarajah. Vicai says the Brown Cup is challenged with the same problem that affects all downtown merchants: a lack of parking.


Husband Roger says the Brown Cup and other storefronts on Coast Highway are tormented all day long by loud motorcycles and obnoxious cars that go completely unchecked.


"A city councilman who agreed with me once told me that he would get a traffic officer [from Oceanside Police] to come in and talk to me about it. But no one ever showed up. Nothing ever happened." He says it's different in Carlsbad where noise polluters are not welcome. "They have signs that forbid [noisy vehicles] and those signs are enforced. They don't have that problem like we do in Oceanside. No one in the city here cares. But it's a non-stop hell for businesses."


The eight-month-old 1022 Cafe and Gelateria is two blocks east of Coast Highway on Mission Avenue so they do not have to deal with traffic noise. But they agree that the lack of parking in downtown Oceanside is an issue they did not know about until they opened their coffee-and-gelato shop eight months ago. "Parking is a big problem," says co-owner Eric Levy. He says the huge amount of coffee joints set to pop up in Oceanside will mostly impact storefronts "...that only sell coffee." He maintains that 1022 Cafe thrives because it specializes in 12 different gelato flavors made fresh daily.


Connor Goodman, the other 1022 Cafe co-founder, admits that the arrival of two new Better Buzz stores may impact the bottom line of all local coffee providers once they open. But he says that the fact Better Buzz is bullish on Oceanside, "...shows that this neighborhood has arrived as a place where people want to be." Better Buzz currently operates 14 storefronts.


Place

Better Buzz

578 South Coast Highway 101, Encinitas

One observer wondered if the massive response to the Dutch Brothers drive-through operation on Oceanside Boulevard a year ago may have influenced Better Buzz to invest in two Oceanside drive-through facilities. Although business has tapered off somewhat, the Dutch Brothers store regularly maintained lines of 20 cars waiting for service.


A request for comment from Better Buzz was not returned. A  representative of the family-run Angelo's which has operated in Oceanside since the 70s, said the cafe would have no comment at this time.


Oceanside's coffee house portfolio now includes 15 on Coast Highway including Bound Coffee, Captain's Grounds, Revolution Roasters, Vigilante, Plantology, 101 Bagel, North County Roasters, Alohana, Banana Dang, Seaborn, Petite Madeline, Brown Cup, Jitters and Starbucks and the upcoming Better Buzz at 1050 South Coast Highway (now Angelo's).


Other coffee-centric businesses adjacent to Coast Highway include The Cup, 1022 Cafe, Pier View Coffee, Ignite, Jet Fuel, Camp Coffee, Dutch Brothers, Black Rock, Communal, Succulent Cafe, and two Starbucks. A Better Buzz storefront is planned at at El Pollo Loco and a Pannikin is being built at the Bunker House.

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