News

Saint Frank Coffee and Schmidt family offices open near Menlo Park Caltrain station

 
The new public coffee kiosk and the 25,000-square-foot office for the Schmidt Family Foundation and family office are open for business at 1020 Alma St. in Menlo Park.(Photo by Jacqueline Ramseyer.)

Menlo Park is now officially home to the headquarters of the family foundation and office of former Google chairman Eric Schmidt and a new Peninsula outpost of coffee vendor Saint Frank Coffee.

Construction of the new office building at 1020 Alma St., across from the Menlo Park Caltrain station, was recently completed and the building is now occupied, according to Jeff Birdwell, president of the Northern California commercial division of Sares Regis Group, the firm that managed the development of the project.

New cafe

While the courtyard of the new building won't have an old heritage tree, which toppled during excavation work at the site, it does now have an outdoor coffee kiosk occupied by high-end coffee vendor Saint Frank Coffee.

The business has another Menlo Park location at Facebook headquarters, but it is only accessible to Facebook employees. The new location is open to the public.

According to Saint Frank Coffee owner Kevin Bohlin, "We are thrilled to be serving our coffee on such a beautiful property. We originally began our business with an outdoor pop-up so this is a kind of returning to our roots in a more refined and mature approach fitting our journey as a company."

He explained that the cafe will have a new menu with "relationally-sourced" filter coffee and espresso drinks, but with an expanded focus on colder drinks, with new offerings like a "Kaffe Cola," alongside existing menu items like cold coffees, a "Kaffe Tonic" and nitro coffees.

He added that he appreciates the foundation's focus on sustainability, and that it aligns with Saint Frank's focus on working with small-scale growers toward "sustainable and empowered development" that promotes environmental, economic and social sustainability.

"It would be incredible if we were able to work toward collaborating on projects in the future where coffee can be the agent of transformation in sustainability, not just the object of it," he added.

New green office building

There are hopes that the renewed site will promote new activity in the area.

“This building replaced a number of obsolete buildings on sites adjacent to the Menlo Park Caltrain station, and we’re proud that we’ve been able to enliven the neighborhood with this project," Birdwell said in a written statement.

“Eric and I are grateful to the city and residents of Menlo Park and are eager to see the active enjoyment of the café, bike racks, and EV charging at the Alma Station project,” said Wendy Schmidt, president of The Schmidt Family Foundation and co-founder of the Schmidt Ocean Institute.

The new office building will consolidate several branches of the family's initiatives: the Schmidt Family Foundation, which was formerly in Palo Alto; the Schmidt Ocean Institute, which runs Falkor, a research vessel to promote ocean exploration; and Schmidt Futures, which funds science fellowships and promotes initiatives for science, technology, society and "shared prosperity," according to a press statement. It will also house the Schmidt family's investment management company, Hillspire LLC.

The building was designed by BAR Architects and has solar panels, a complex HVAC system, two EV charging stations, bike racks, and new streetscaping and landscaping out front. It also has two levels of underground parking.

The new building is expected to have 80 to 100 people working there, and they will be encouraged to keep energy use low.

Birdwell said that the building isn't "net zero energy" yet because staff still needs to move in and adapt to the space. In the building's lobby, he said, there will be a dashboard that will encourage occupants to minimize their energy use by providing real-time feedback on the building’s consumption.

Schmidt added that she supports those aims: “Targeting near-zero energy and responsible water use were important goals for every member of our team. And the easy commuting location alongside Caltrain Alma Station is a great convenience for many who will work in the building," she offered in a written statement.

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Comments

2 people like this
Posted by really?
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 20, 2019 at 10:02 am

Makes a change from coffee at 7-Eleven!


2 people like this
Posted by Tom
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Aug 20, 2019 at 11:05 am

Based off the Saint Frank Coffee location I’ve been to in SF this will be quite the upgrade from 7-eleven...if you’re a coffee snob only CoffeeBar is going to be comparable as far as other local options go. Excited to check out their new location.


2 people like this
Posted by Barbara
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Aug 20, 2019 at 3:27 pm

This article - though nicely explains the wonderful new development, is fairly glib about the loss of a Heritage tree. Unless you highlighted Heritage Tree you would not have known the reason it was lost. With the trees being taken down at Ravenswood it might have been wise to let your readers know about the rains that may have or have not contributed to this trees demise.


18 people like this
Posted by Save Menlo Park
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 20, 2019 at 4:13 pm

There's no seating. It's a walk-up window coffee bar. Eric Schmidt was told to build it for the community, so to "kill two birds with one stone" he really built the coffee bar for his employees who can enjoy a cup of coffee while sitting in their cozy offices. He didn't want to build a nice coffee shop where locals can sit and chat with each other. That is not its function. That is why there is no seating inside or out. That was his great contribution to the community and why two beautiful oak trees, a laundromat, restaurant, nail salon, hair salon and other businesses were removed. Thank you Eric. I enjoy now having to load my laundry into my car and driving to Redwood City to do my laundry.

In another article it states that Saint Frank Coffee is also the on sight coffee supplier at Facebook. Eric is just another big tech guy with deep pockets who can have an on-site coffee bar for his employees. He's not thinking about the public. If he cared about the public he would have built a coffee shop with indoor seating, or a laundromat.



9 people like this
Posted by pearl
a resident of another community
on Aug 20, 2019 at 9:22 pm

pearl is a registered user.

To: Save Menlo Park

Thank you for your comments! I couldn't agree more!

pearl


1 person likes this
Posted by MP Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 21, 2019 at 9:19 am

@Save Menlo Park, there's a laundromat just across El Camino Real from the train station - Web Link

They have self service, wash and fold, and dry cleaning. I'm pretty sure you can meet your laundry needs without driving to Redwood CIty, even if it's a convenient bit of hyperbole.

Also, there are a lot of commuters who take the train. I suspect a walk-up coffee bar near the train station will do good business, and provide a valuable service for commuters looking for some pre-work caffeine that's better than 7-11 and closer than Starbucks.


8 people like this
Posted by Save Menlo Park
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 21, 2019 at 11:17 am

@MP Resident, there's a reason I (and my neighbors) will not use the laundromat you mentioned. Basically, our clothes do not seem clean after using their washing machines. Also, it's difficult to find a place to park there because the lot is used by many businesses. Even if there was ample parking I'm done washing my clothes there. The laundromat demolished to accommodate Eric's building was easily accessible to the local neighbors and also had ample parking.


Like this comment
Posted by Dagwood
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 21, 2019 at 1:21 pm

Dagwood is a registered user.

No seating? Really?


5 people like this
Posted by pearl
a resident of another community
on Aug 21, 2019 at 2:04 pm

pearl is a registered user.

To: Save Menlo Park

I quit using that laundromat years ago for the same reasons, plus at the time I was using it, there were often homeless people camped out there, using the bathroom as a place to get cleaned up and to hang out for awhile.

pearl


Like this comment
Posted by Tom
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Aug 22, 2019 at 2:04 pm

I checked out the coffee shop this morning. Coffee is great which was expected. As for seating there is some but in limited amounts. They definitely need more, ideally something a bit more comfortable than the 4 Fermob bistro style tables and chairs they currently have. They could perhaps take a look at the recently built outdoor seating area adjacent the new Verve Coffee shop on University Ave in PA for inspiration. I get the concept is not necessarily to be a coffee shop where a ton of people hang out, but there's likely enough demand for additional seating, plus they have the space. It does appear they're still working on the finishing touches for the property, perhaps more seating is coming.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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