Raul Sanchez is on a mission to bring a holy trinity, of sorts, to SoMa. He’s raised over $10,000 through GoFundMe in pursuit of his ambitious project: the perfect balance of records, coffee, and books. Cafe Suspiro, grand opening in October but open for limited service now, is named after Sanchez’s grandfather’s small shop (a tiendita) in Colotlan, Mexico, in the state of Jalisco. This results in a sigh of relief. Sanchez was a barista at Vega Coffee, which dispensed espressos in the exact same location, 13 years ago – he was the first person to be hired. “I want to keep that familiarity with people in the neighborhood,” Sanchez says of this next chapter.
Prior to this business venture, he left Vega to try digital marketing (not as satisfying as the cafe world) before returning in 2014. When Vega owners John Quintos and Kirk Harper decided to offer Sanchez the keys to the store this summer, it has risen on occasion. Now he’s proud to open an outdoor sidewalk cafe-bar under the new name and with an updated approach. Coffee is $4, the place’s beloved drink, Macau Iced Coffee, is $5.75, and new additions such as Raul’s Mexican Mocha and a horchata latte will set you back $6. As for beans, Cento Coffee, which Vega has used for eight years, is a San Francisco-based roaster that Sanchez likes because small business is friendly. “It’s a very good roast. The medium blend is a great chocolaty profile,” says Sanchez.
Sanchez is not a musical wimp. His family in Mexico, the Orquesta Sanchez, is a big inspiration for the company’s new record-selling arm. Customers can browse documents old and new, known and obscure, before flipping through a selection of books covering the same range. For about 30 years, Sanchez also drummed in city bands. He jammed with the Aerosols, Junior Panthers and Damsels, playing NoisePop and many other local venues. It is a chance for him to return to the scene. “I’ve been a musician since I was a kid, and my family is made up of musicians,” Sanchez says. “I want to wear local indie-punk and pop records. They can deal with me instead of the big chain music stores. As for the books, those of Victor Villaseñor golden rain is his favorite, although his favorite musical book is Yeah! Yeah! Yeah ! : The history of pop music, from Bill Haley to Beyoncé by Bob Stanley.
There are still a few things to settle for the official opening. Sanchez invites lovers of overloaded records and books to donate their surplus to the shop, as he will need a few goods to peddle when it opens. He hopes to hold the grand opening in October, but Sanchez just completed a practice run last weekend on Sunday Streets in SoMa on August 21. He will open the doors to the Folsom Street Fair again, but reminds parents not to bring their children to That One. For now, he’s just happy to get things done by offering coffee throughout the week. “I found a way to keep the doors open as Vega,” says Sanchez. “Then someone pointed out to me that there weren’t really any record stores in SoMa. The pandemic has set everything in motion.
Cafe Suspiro is holding its next temporary opening on Sunday, September 25 at 1246 Folsom Street from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. In the meantime, meet Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. for coffee. Drop off books and records at the store Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.