Dispute brews between SF General, coffee cart

May 3, 2010 7:06:10 PM PDT
A David versus Goliath fight is shaping up at San Francisco General Hospital. A man who's run concessions there for 18 years is being told to clear out. The hospital has one explanation and he has another.

If you've ever been to San Francisco General Hospital, you may have bought coffee or pastries at "General Java" -- the little kiosk out front.

"We've been here so long were part of the community, so many of the people who are our customers are our friends," owner Greg Batlin said.

Batlin owns the coffee cart and a restaurant on the second floor called "Cafe Nightingale." Now both are being shut down sometime this month.

The kiosk has to move because SF General is being rebuilt to comply with state seismic requirements.

The hospital foundation will eventually set up another concession stand. Even though Batlin has been there for 18 years, he'll have to compete for the new spot. Hundreds of his customers feel he's being treated unfairly and have signed a petition of support.

Dr. Alisa Gean says he should be allowed to stay.

"He's part of the character of this place. We love SF General because of people like Greg," she said.

Fourteen people work for Batlin, most in his "Cafe Nightingale," which will permanently close.

A hospital spokeswoman says they need the space for patients and staff.

"We've always been a very full place and now with the construction we need to reconfigure space even more," hospital spokesperson Rachael Kagan said.

Sodexho, a professional food service company, was recently brought in to help the hospital pass state inspections and they received a multi-million dollar contract.

This small entrepreneur believes that's why he's being kicked out.

Whatever the reason, a San Francisco native who started with a push cart, will be pushed out of his spot at SF General later this month.


Load Comments