The entities are experimenting with a new concept, called Mosaic, at the site of the former Peet’s Coffee, 1131 State St.
“We’re trying to create a place that is dynamic and delicious,” said Michael Lewis, chief impact/operating officer at Impact Hub Santa Barbara, who is overseeing the Mosaic project.
Rather than a single business taking on the cost of leasing the large space, the food retailers will share the counter and seating.
It’s a lower up-front cost for each business, and they will benefit from each other’s products, while also spotlighting their food items, Lewis said.
The concept is similar to the Impact Hub coworking model, where professionals and emerging entrepreneurs share a workspace and enjoy a wide variety of benefits, without having to rent office space downtown.
Crews have already painted the inside of the building white and are busy customizing the space for the new clients. Lewis is hopeful that Mosaic will offer a soft launch at the end of August and then hold a full opening in September.
The workspace won’t be a place for people to “squat,” Lewis said, like at Peet’s, where people would camp out for several hours at a time.
“It’s going to be more dynamic than Peet’s,” Lewis said. “We’re trying something completely different.”
Santa Barbara has been struggling to retain retail shops and restaurants downtown, and a plethora of business leaders have been trying to figure out ways to revitalize the area.
“We’ve been discussing similar concepts for a while with Impact Hub,” said Adam Geeb, director of asset management at Sima. “When 1131 State became available, with its very usable layout and access to the San Marcos Building’s scenic courtyard, it presented a unique opportunity to try it out.”
Geeb said many of Sima’s new tenants over the past several years have been locally-operated businesses, “something we feel both locals and visitors want out of their downtown Santa Barbara experience.
“By partnering with Impact Hub we’re able to provide these businesses with access to a prime downtown location to showcase their products, an opportunity that would have required a significant commitment of time and capital to achieve on their own,” Geeb said.
Peet’s left the space in May. Ed Hoban, a Peet’s representative, told Noozhawk that Peet’s decision to leave was not the result of a rent gap with property owner.
“The coffee business has evolved over the past 20 years and proper competitive positioning in uber competitive environments, such as Santa Barbara State Street, is critical,” Hoban said.