Mission Local has learned that the original Philz Coffee, at 24th and Folsom streets, is closing for good. The cafe will sell its final cup on Monday, October 16.
Store employees and the company confirmed the closure.
“We have loved serving the Mission District community over the past 20 years. After a long and fulfilling journey, our lease ended and we have made the difficult decision not to renew,” the company said in a statement.
“Though the physical space may close its doors, the Mission will always hold a special place in our hearts as our first home, where Philz Coffee was born and nurtured,” the statement continued. “We are committed to taking care of our team and are working closely to assist with this transition. All eligible team members at our Mission location will be offered positions at nearby Philz locations.”
Multiple employees at the store affirmed the same, but said they could not say more about the closure. A knowledgeable source said employees at the store were told Tuesday night during a team call that the store would be shuttered.
On Wednesday morning, it was business as usual at the cafe; half of the seats were taken by coffee drinkers, young tech workers typed on their laptops, and El Tecolote newspapers were sprawled on the tables. Customers, finding out about the closure, reacted with shock and sorrow.
“I feel sad for them,” said Erika, of the cafe’s staff.
Another pair, Irene and Dakota, said they have long been meeting at the corner. “I feel sad; this is the first store,” said Irene. “The other Philz don’t have art like this.”
Dakota said he’s taken aback: “It seems like they’re always busy.”
Philz — which now boasts dozens of cafes across California and a handful in Chicago — started at the humble 24th Street spot in 2003 before expanding across the Bay Area. The corner location at 3101 24th St. was previously a liquor store owned by the cafe’s founder Phil Jaber, for whom the coffee chain is named.
Jaber said he studied coffee for 25 years before opening Philz, visiting over 1,100 cafes and spending up to $6 at each one — whatever the cost was of a cup of Joe. According to company lore, he perfected a drip coffee method that removed acidity from his coffees, though a former business associate claimed that method was stolen from him.
Though every Philz has its own aesthetic, the Mission District location stood out for its ceiling murals, Mission skateboards, photos of Jaber and his son, and framed articles denoting Philz’s early success. The store was especially community- and 24th-Street centered, evidenced by El Tecolote newspapers always on hand, and a giant mural of the community paper and Latinx organizers on the store’s exterior.
A line of Philz coffee cup merchandise paid homage to its neighborhood roots, noting the chain was “Mission Made.” The company also released a signature drink after the neighborhood, the “Mission Cold Brew.”
The Mission store faced backlash in 2020 for allegedly laying off employees who feared Covid-19 and for firing an employee who posted a meme that said, “What’s your favorite iced coffee drink, because ours is, ‘Arrest the cops that killed Breonna Taylor.’”
It’s unclear the effect the store closure will have on neighboring businesses, which saw the cafe as an anchor on 24th Street. The coffee chain maintains 12 other locations across San Francisco.
Additional reporting by Yujie Zhou.