20 Aug 2014
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Coffee Drive-Through May Drive Out of Town

Caffino, a coffee drive-through that has been located in the Westborough Square Shopping Center for 15 years, may have to leave South San Francisco due to a new restriction against drive-throughs.

Coffee Drive-Through May Drive Out of Town

For 15 years, has been serving up steaming cups of coffee to busy moms coming to or from nearby schools from its drive-through location in the Westborough Square Shopping Center.

But drive-through coffee in South San Francisco may soon be a thing of the past.

With their lease up at the end of February, Caffino owners Mita and Tony Ricks were hoping to move to a new South City location. But a call to the Planning Division stopped them short: the city’s new zoning ordinance, updated in 2010, bans new drive-through facilities in South San Francisco.

“A lot of [customers] are very upset,” Mita Ricks said.

Because Caffino would be moving to a new location, it can’t be grandfathered in as an existing drive-through. And Westborough Square, which is redeveloping the entire shopping center, didn’t request a zoning amendment to allow a drive-through at the new site. Mita Ricks said the property manager offered them a space in the renovated site, but without a drive-through.

“We’re looking to relocate,” Mita Ricks said.

In order to continue as a drive-through in South San Francisco, Caffino would have to find a new location and submit an application for use at that location with an amendment for a drive-through, according to Billy Gross, an associate planner in the city’s planning division. The city council would then need to approve the exception with a zoning ordinance amendment.

The restriction on drive-throughs is based on concern about air quality and the types of development desired in South San Francisco, Gross said.

Knowing that they’ll need legislative intervention in order to stay in South City, the Ricks are headed to the on Feb. 8, where they and their customers will ask the council during the public comments period to make an exception. Mita Ricks said she’s collected 600 signatures from customers on a petition to let them stay, and an online petition has so far gathered 377 signatures.

The council can’t vote on issues that aren’t on the agenda, but they can instruct staff to research the issue or place it on the agenda at a future meeting.

If the city council won’t grant an exception, Caffino, which is a franchise location that the Ricks own, may have to move to another city. But Mita Ricks said she wants to stay in South San Francisco.

“We’re trying to stay with our customers,” Mita Ricks said.

Whatever happens, Caffino will close in Westborough Square on Feb. 24. The Ricks own the small box-like building, which they’ll have to move.  Where they’ll move it to is another question.

“Backyard?” laughed Mita Ricks. “I don’t know. We don’t have anywhere to put it right now.”

Thanks to reader Julie Wilson for suggesting this story. If you have a story about a small business you'd like to propose, send an email to drew@patch.com.

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