The community loves a welcoming spot with great coffee, delicious sweets, art, and friendly service. Meet Lea Sabado and Andre Higgenbotham, owners of Excelsior Coffee opening in the new year at 4495 Mission Street in the Excelsior. But it’s been a long road from dream to reality for this young Excelsior couple. “You have to be ambitious, resilient and not get undaunted by City Hall and the planning department if you want to open a new business,” Lea said.
After a year of searching for the right roadmap for opening a new business and cutting through lots red tape, Lea and her husband Andre, will open the doors of Excelsior Coffee in the long-vacant Pink Spot clothing store this coming February offering specialty coffee with an array of espresso coffee bar selections, a drip station, coffee beans, and pastries to reflect her Filipino-Hawaiian heritage and Andre’s Mexican roots.
Though Lea has worked professionally providing tax and accounting services to small business owner-managers for the past nine years, she found the task of getting her own business of the ground both challenging and time consuming. “Our location was not registered with the City so we needed legal help locating the history of the lease. Jorge Rivas from the Mayor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development sent me to EAG Executive Director Stephanie Cajina the”, Lea said. “She connected us with Legal Services for Entrepreneurs who really helped us. I wish I had gotten to Stephanie much sooner.”
Many people readily think of the Excelsior Festival, the Ever Upward sculpture at Geneva and Mission, the transformation of the Kenny Alley steps across from Safeway, and other beautification projects as EAG’s sole mission. But the core of EAG’s mission is to provide support to new and existing businesses like Excelsior Coffee to the revitalize the Mission Street corridor. “EAG and Stephanie are a virtual rolodex of knowledge on navigating all the nuances of opening a business in the Excelsior,” said Lea. “Stephanie has the neighborhood history and the relationships. She linked us to like-minded businesses and neighbors, in addition to City Hall and planning department connections. And if she didn’t know an answer right away, she found out for us.”
Besides artisanal, small batch, single-origin coffee from Roastco and ethnic pastries from local sources, Excelsior Coffee will feature rotating art exhibits and offer summer internships to youth from Washington High School where Andre teaches history. “We look forward to meeting our neighbors and our community, and we are in it for the long haul,” Lea said.
Pedestrian Safety Signage Project
The installations –– a sign announcing the number of pedestrian injuries at each intersection, a chalk ‘X’ painted in the street and informational placards –– are meant to educate pedestrians and drivers about the dangers of the streets. One sign reads “from July 2011 to June 2016, 11 crashes were reported on Mission Street between Leo and Russia, 1 pedestrian was injured.”
“We’re trying to build awareness of how dangerous our streets are,” EAG executive director Stephanie Cajina said.
Portions of Geneva Avenue, Ocean Avenue, Mission Street and Alemany Avenue east of the Balboa BART Station are all on the city’s High Injury Network. A second phase of the project will install banners at the Persia Triangle to draw more attention to traffic safety.
The project was funded by a grant from the Department of Public Health and inspired by a similar project in Los Angeles called X-ing on Adams.