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Doors Close on Borderlands Cafe but the Bookstore Lives On

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Borderlands Cafe on Valencia Street closed up for good Tuesday. The owner’s reason for shutting down is not bankruptcy or loss of lease – neither of those things happened in this case. The reason is not based on difficulty retaining staff in San Francisco on cafe pay or declining sales – both challenging issues, but still not the reason. Instead, owner Alan Beatts chose to let go of what he likes to focus on what he loves.

Until Tuesday, Borderlands has operated as a two-part business, with a cafe and adjoining book store. Beatts told Mission Local that he reevaluated his priorities after the sudden death of a close friend.

“When something like that happens it makes you look at your own life,” Beatts said.

And when Beatts took that deep dive, he realized that liked running a cafe but loved running a bookstore.

Borderland Books will remain open on Valencia until Beatts packs up and moves the shop to a Haight Street property he purchased with $1.9 million raised by supporters. He expects the move to take place sometime this year.

But as of now, the cafe is officially gone and that is a shame. Borderlands Cafe was the kind of place that fit into its Mission District neighborhood with ease, when a good cup of coffee, bagel and a wooden table was all you really needed. Having an attached bookstore specializing in sci-fi selection didn’t hurt the vibe, either.

It was a solid spot in the neighborhood for 10 years, but Beatts came to terms with the fact that he didn’t have enough love for the cafe to deal with challenges of keeping a good old fashioned coffee shop afloat in an area now inundated by wealthier residents and upscale eateries.

“[W]e’re kind of a cafe designed for Valencia Street in 2010, not Valencia Street in 2020,” Beatts said.

The owner can’t really be blamed for focusing on what matters to him but the cafe, in all its glorious simplicity, will be missed. Best of luck!


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Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Journalist, editor, student, single mom to a pack of wolves, foodie, music lover, resident smart ass, and champion of vulgarity and human kindness.