This fight, like many of its kind being waged in towns across the country, is fundamentally about preserving localism rather than allowing corporate sprawl to stamp out economically immeasurable goods (like community and quality) in the name of higher profit margins.
Raman made projections back in 2005:
"[Chai] will hit the roof," Bechar predicts. "The manufactured kind will continue to grow because Starbucks has already set the standard. But I don't think the homemade kind will grow as fast. We don't have the patience."-vs-
"My understanding is that Bechar has an old business model he likes to run, and we need to make upgrades,'' landlord Maher Shami said.Janfreya Didur, who works at kindred coffee shop MCoffee (my high school afternoon hang-out), says it best--
"I don't consider it progress to have more chains come in here - and Raman makes the best chai - the truth is in the taste."Shami underhandedly gave his application to bring in Peet's to the city council before talking to his leaser. Raman only found out when the mayor asked if he'd decided to close.
The shopping center where Raman's is located is quieter than it's been, after Albertson's closed months ago to make way for Santa Cruz based New Leaf Community Market--definitely an upgrade, from the locally-owned standpoint. Peet's, on the other hand, would be betraying its founding Berkeleyan principles if it crushes a shop with such history and a loyal local following. I suppose a chain is a chain, and they'd be positioning themselves to compete with the Starbucks across Highway 1, which rumor has it boasts the highest per capita income of any Starbucks in the state. Yes, another chain is just what the town needs.