Starbucks Evenings are Bringing Wine and Beer to San Francisco

Imagine if your go-to morning coffee stop transformed into a relaxing place to enjoy drinks and appetizers in the evening. That’s the reality in cities like Seattle, Chicago and Los Angeles, where “Starbucks Evenings” has been rolling out at select Starbucks stores since 2010. The program adds beer, wine and small, tapas-like plates, like truffle macaroni and cheese and parmesan crusted chicken skewers, to the regular Starbucks menu after 4pm. So far only 40 of over 11,000 Starbucks stores in the U.S. participate in Starbucks Evenings, but the company has plans to introduce the program nationwide within the next few years, according to Chief Operating Officer, Troy Alstead. Hoodline recently reported that the Starbucks Evenings will be coming to at least two San Francisco locations as soon as this summer. The Starbucks at 9th & Irving recently completed a major renovation, and has been hinting at the new program on its Facebook page, mentioning plans to introduce a “doggie day” and board game night, in addition to other activities. The location at Fisherman’s Wharf has already applied for a beer and wine license, and similar applications have been filed for Starbucks stores across the state, including Napa, San Mateo, Santa …

San Francisco Bay Startups: Good and Bad Branding

With today’s fierce competition for startups in the San Francisco Bay area, it’s important for new companies to establish a brand early. A good brand can easily help a startup make it big, and a bad one can just as easily kill it. What makes a good brand? Good branding goes beyond just an attractive logo and catchy name. It’s important for startups to be consistent in all of their branding, and take every opportunity to convey their brand’s image. Everything a company does or says should reflect the brand, creating brand unity. A brand’s message should be unique and fresh, communicating regularly with its audience in a distinctive voice. Example: Airbnb San Francisco-based startup, Airbnb, has become a go-to app for travelers and vacationers looking for an affordable place to stay. The app provides rooms and guest houses all over the world that are available to rent by the night. Airbnb uses several different social media platforms to spread their message and convey their brand. Their Facebook page is updated every few days with photos and videos related to travel and hot vacation spots, as well as interviews with Airbnb hosts. Their Twitter page shares Tweets from app users …

Tech Startup, Breather, Provides Private Spaces for San Francisco Workers

When writer, Julien Smith, toured the country promoting his best-selling book, he had a difficult time finding a quiet place to work or relax. “I would find myself in cities… where I didn’t know a lot of what was around me, and I just wanted—I don’t want to say a sense of safety, but more like a sense of just feeling comfortable or feeling at home,” he told Inc. “So I would end up at Starbucks.” Coffee shops like Starbucks proved to be too noisy for Smith, and he didn’t want to pay high hotel rates for just a few hours of privacy. This need for a familiar space in an unfamiliar city inspired Smith to co-found Breather, a company that rents out private office spaces in several major cities for between $15 and $40 per hour. In San Francisco, Breather currently rents 16 locations at a rate of $25 per hour, and they plan to add another eight to 10 more over the next month. The company recently secured a new flagship office on Mission Street near Transbay Terminal. Breather spaces offer amenities like Wi-Fi, chargers, couches and access to bathrooms, and are well-stocked with complementary candy and books. …

San Francisco’s Found Conference Proved Dog Tech is Big Business

Technology has gone to the dogs. In March, startup CEOs gathered at Digital Garage in San Francisco for Found, the first ever dog tech conference. The event was hosted by Pack, a local startup that provides a social network for dogs and their owners. Pack co-founder and CEO, Megan Casey, said the purpose of the conference was to discuss the growing industry of technology for dog owners. “We wanted to get a group of fellow dog startups that see the same type of opportunity and solutions together into one room to say this isn’t an underdog issue, this is something that’s actually a really big market,” she said. Guest speakers at Found included Aaron Easterly, CEO of Rover, a service that connects dog owners with dog sitters in over 10,000 US cities. Easterly discussed the trends he feels are driving pet tech, including an increased demand for pet products and the lower cost of tech startups. “When you have an increase in demand and an increase in supply, you get an explosion in pet tech,” he explained. Easterly said he sees a huge undeserved market in dog technology, and urged fellow startups to think big. “Don’t get overly stuck on …

AltSchool: New SF Bay Tech Startup is Creating the Future of Education

Altschool, a San Francisco Bay area startup founded by former Google product manager, Max Ventilla, is an innovative new school system that combines advanced technology with traditional education. AltSchool’s “micro-schools” are modeled after the one-room schoolhouses of the past. Students aged from pre-kindergarten to eighth grade learn together in classrooms with no more than 25 students and two teachers each. For a tuition of around $20,000, students study a curriculum focused on project-based learning and real-world lessons. “The point of education is to prepare our kids for the world that they’re going to actually experience as adults,” Ventilla explained. Students go on weekly field trips and complete activities like designing irrigation systems and building drones. Micro-schools have no principals or other administrators, but instead use technology to connect teachers with students and parents. Engineers and software developers work closely with teachers in their classrooms to constantly improve the AltSchool platform. “All engineers have ‘buddy teachers’ and study what’s going on in the classroom so they can learn about what’s most effective,” said Director of Education, Carolyn Wilson. “It lets us iterate very quickly and improve very, very quickly and validate for others that this is actually an approach that can …

Lazy Bear: An Elegant Dinner Party Every Night

Once the San Francisco Bay area’s best kept culinary secret, Lazy Bear is now the hottest ticket in the Mission District. What began as a series of underground dinner parties in 2009 became a legitimate dining establishment in August of 2014. Far from a traditional restaurant setting, Lazy Bear offers a “communal dining experience,” where diners sit together at long tables, all enjoying the same tasting menu of about 12 courses plus extras. Twice per night, 40 lucky ticket-holders file into the chic gastropub-style venue for an exclusive dinner party like no other. The festivities begin in the cozy upstairs mezzanine, where diners lounge on couches, enjoying drinks and snacks. Dinner is served downstairs at two communal tables. Each course is explained in detail before a team of waiters quickly pass around plates at designated times. Lazy Bear’s FAQ explains that the dinner party setting means that the pacing of the meal may be different from what diners expect, and that the course explanations “might interrupt your conversation a bit.” Lazy Bear’s communal style dining is designed to foster a more social, energetic atmosphere, where guests share stories while enjoying the modern American menu. Purchasing tickets in advance makes dining less …