UNION CITY, Calif. — Hippies Brew Coffee bid farewell to its Smith Street location in Union City a few weeks ago, but the owner says closing one chapter of the company’s story is allowing it to open another.
Sone Estrada, owner of Hippies Brew, told the East Bay Echo on Monday, Nov. 13, that the coffee company is set to embark on a new culinary adventure — tacos. Chulo Tacos is set to make its debut during the evening hours at the Hippies Brew locations at 699 Lewelling Boulevard in San Leandro and 34910 Eleventh Street in Union City within the next three months.
“Everyone loves coffee, and everyone loves tacos,” Estrada said. “We’re just going to combine the best of both worlds.”
Estrada opened the first Hippies Brew location on Foothill Boulevard in Hayward in 2014, but neverending plumbing issues prompted the entrepreneur to seek out different locations. By 2019, Estrada had opened the pocket cafe at the Hayward Library and the cafe at 3900 Smith Street.
“That’s when the pandemic hit,” Estrada said.
While the COVID-19 pandemic posed significant challenges for businesses worldwide, Estrada said Hippies Brew was able to navigate the evolving landscape successfully, pivoting to online orders and paring down the food menu to about a quarter of what it used to be. The biggest sellers during that time were jugs of the shop’s signature drinks, like the Rick Ross, a blend of cocoa powder, cold brew and cinnamon vanilla cream topped with cinnamon sugar.
However, Estrada said the company “grew too fast too soon,” and staffing issues led to inconsistent cafe hours, service and quality, as well as an inability to get back to serving the full menu.
“That was one of the main reasons for closing down one of the shops,” Estrada said, “just because we wanted to get back to what we’re originally known for — these amazing sandwiches and great coffee.”
As for 3900 Smith Street, it’s set to become the new location for the Macs by Icky Cafe, according to signs on the shop window. Known for its Filipino-inspired desserts, including ube macarons and mango graham ice cream tacos, Macs by Icky, which previously operated as a pop-up shop, is slated to officially open its doors in 2024.
Sonia Waraich can be reached at 510-952-7455.