Kiva Han Oakland Closed For Good

Kiva Han Coffee Shop Closed For Good

Kiva Han Coffee Shop Closed For Good

There’s something about saying closed for good.” Kiva Han Cafe poured their last drink today (2/19/2012), but is it for good – or for bad? Some might be impressed that this locally-owned coffee shop lasted for more than 10 years, despite the Starbucks positioned directly across the street.

But there are many reasons why it isn’t surprising that Kiva Han remained open this long. The South Craig Street Starbucks has long lines and closes early in the evening (and they always have fruit flies in the pastry case). Heck, Starbucks didn’t even have free wireless until sometime last year!

Kiva Han, on the other hand, was a true community coffeehouse, and an Oakland landmark. It’s sad to see another good local business bite the dust while a subpar corporate chain thrives. It’s not that Pittsburghers weren’t supporting Kiva Han. They never lacked hearty patronage. So what crushed them? Perhaps it was the rent they were being charged. The Pitt News mentioned that Kiva Han was paying up to six times more rent than a comparable indie coffee joint in Shadyside (of all places). That sounds like a heavy burden for a business centered around $1.50 cups of coffee.

The developers that own the Kiva Han space also own the building that is occupied by Starbucks (and CMU). Apparently they own quite a bit of the property on that end of Craig Street. Like the storefront a few doors down from Kiva Han that provided a useful mailbox service to local businesses and students, but now it sits there vacant because they could no longer afford the rent. It will probably remain empty until some boring chain comes along wanting to sign a long-term lease. Cross your fingers that it won’t be another bank or cell phone store, since Pittsburgh definitely has no shortage of those.

Thankfully, no banks or cell phone stores will be opening in the Kiva Han space (for now). The Bagel Factory, a Pittsburgh franchise, is taking over the corner in March. It’s likely that they won’t stay open as late as Kiva Han did, but you can still get coffee and breakfast in the mornings.

Back to the rent for a moment… at what point should landlords consider NOT increasing the rent on their tenants? And at what point should they be held accountable for ruining small businesses and contributing to the slow extinction of Pittsburgh-owned ventures?

Old school picof Kiva Han on South Craig Street

Old school picof Kiva Han on South Craig Street

Kiva Han: "Regarding Your Bagel"

Kiva Han: "Regarding Your Bagel"

Kiva Han Coffee Shop Closed 2/19/12

Kiva Han Coffee Shop Closed 2/19/12

Kiva Han Coffee Shop Mosaic

Kiva Han Coffee Shop Mosaic

  • Steve O

    You forgot to mention that Kiva Han’s drip coffee sux.

  • Fang

    You mention bugs in the Starbucks case and nothing about how filthy Kiv Han was? I mean not as nasty as the one in lower Oakland, but still…

    • Open your eyes

      Speaking of nasty, Bagel Factory isn’t all that clean either.

    • ealing207

      kiva han was really a dirty place. i would rather patronize local vs. corporate chain. but. i have never seen any bugs in starbuck plust SB’s staff is far friendlier. sorry.

    • Jared M

      I was sad to see KH go, I enjoyed people watching from their balcony and drinking a hot chai latte. Best hot chai latte I have ever had. Their coffee imo was better than starbucks, and I liked the atmosphere better at KH. As for the pastry counter and flys comment, KH never had a backing for their pastry thing the past 5 years I was there, and often I saw flys in their pastry area as well, it wasn’t just a starbucks problem.

      bagel factory is in now, layout is weird tbh, and doesnt have the same atmosphere, I know KH was dirty but it wasn’t smelly and foul dirty, and it had a soul and comfort to it that some other sterile corporatized chains lack.

  • CMU Student

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the landlords are simply waiting for the businesses there to go under so they can lease the entire block out to CMU. CMU should just buy Craig Street.

  • goldenseal25

    What’s Oakland without Kiva Han?

  • Will the Kiva-Fan

    I took several pictures of Kiva Han before it went dark last weekend. Here it is:


    PS: The new tenant would pay 43% more than what KH had paid for their last month of rent. It was a number than KH could not have matched.

    • Boring Pittsburgh

      Thanks for sharing!

    • Will the Kiva-Fan

      Sorry, I am relocating the photos to new server / CMS:


  • Jules

    The owner of the bagel factory is a sexist pig! I know it’s local, but this is one NOT to support. He sexually harasses his employees, and is not above doing so in front of customers! :/

  • Brandon

    What is Oakland coming to?

  • Dean Jackson

    I went to that Kiva Han when it opened, but not for all that long. I just drink double espresso’s… and Kiva Han’s wasn’t consistent or always good. Their drip coffee was notably better than Starbucks (at the time, not sure about lately), but their espresso was wonky, as were the drinks based on it.

    Dunno. I haven’t lived in walking distance for ten years, so I haven’t been going. I’m betting that the Tazza D’oro that went in *on* CMU’s campus had a lot more to do with the death of Kiva Han than the Starbucks directly across from ’em?

    • Steve O

      Learn something new every day. Tazza D’oro on CMU campus? Where?

  • Dean Jackson

    The Tazza D’oro on CMU campus is in the Gates Center, the newer building housing the CS department that looks like a cube sitting on another cube. Ground floor.

  • Bloomfielder

    At least it’s another Pittsburgh business going in. You guys act like it’s a *gasp* PetSmart or something!

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