Original Peet's Site Reopens After Renovation

Photo: Peet's Coffee & Tea on Vine Street has reopened. The shop, known for being the chain's founding location, reopened last week after undergoing renovations for more than a month.
Alexander Ritchie/Photo
Peet's Coffee & Tea on Vine Street has reopened. The shop, known for being the chain's founding location, reopened last week after undergoing renovations for more than a month.

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The famous Vine Street location of Peet's Coffee & Tea, which was the founding site of the nationwide chain, reopened last Wednesday following more than a month of renovations.

Credited with starting the coffee revolution, Alfred Peet opened the North Berkeley shop in 1966, bringing the aroma of coffee beans he roasted himself to the neighborhood, according to Michael Caplan, the city of Berkeley's economic development manager.

Michelle Turner, assistant manager of the shop, said the site closed at the end of February to update plumbing, restore its original cabinets and remodel with new floors and paint.

"We're really excited that we got to maintain the integrity of our original store," she said. "We think it's beautiful."

But Turner said the focus of the renovations was designing a new room dedicated to Peet, displaying an antique coffee roaster, tasting supplies, ledgers and original Peet's coffee bags.

Erica Hess, senior manager of community relations for the chain, said reopening day was positive and optimistic, marked by personal anecdotes from loyal Peet's customers.

"There's such a great sense of pride in those Peet's customers," Hess said. "There's a lot of historical significance."

While the site is profitable and the reopening was well-planned, Hess said the chain must be careful about opening shops due to the economic downturn.

Caplan said the current economy has negatively affected the city's coffee industry, but business from the student population and the community's coffee culture have mitigated the effects.

"People are brewing more at home and drinking less when they go out. I don't think that (coffee shops) are immune," he said. "On the other hand it's a relatively affordable daily ritual."

Keba Konte, owner of Guerilla Cafe, located near the shop, said he enjoyed serving Peet's customers during the renovation and welcomed the reopening.

"My attitude is the more the merrier," Konte said. "More coffee shops are going to bring in more coffee drinkers."

Berkeley resident and long-time loyal customer Alice Feller said she was excited to see the new Peet's.

"Starbucks tried to move into (our neighborhood) and we kicked them out," Feller said. "Real Peet's customers don't drink Starbucks."


Contact Mihir Zaveri at [email protected]

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