Tech cafe opens downtown

HanaHaus combines a cafe and workspace

Where do entrepreneurs, tech moguls and Palo Alto families come together? HanaHaus, a unique tech cafe and recent addition to downtown Palo Alto, serves to bridge the groups and integrate technology and entrepreneurship in the Palo Alto community.

This concept of combining a cafe and a workspace with an emphasis on the technology industry blossomed from the mind of Dr. Hasso Plattner. Plattner founded the German software company Systems, Applications & Products in Data Processing (SAP) and throughout his career has been dedicated to supporting innovation and entrepreneurship. SAP has backed HanaHaus, but the company hopes to differentiate the images of each venture.

HanaHaus is located in downtown Palo Alto at the site of the Varsity Theater. The historic location was most recently occupied by Borders bookstore. The renovated theater blends cutting edge technology and modern furniture with classic Spanish architecture and vintage gilt. Patrons enter into the long courtyard, highlighted by archways and fountains, filled with cafe seating. Upon entering the building, patrons arrive at the heart of HanaHaus’s workspace.

The space is divided into free and paid seating. Free seating includes the entrance courtyard, as well as the space in the immediate vicinity of the cafe. The free seating is intended for cafe customers and community members interested in the workspace without the technological amenities. For a range of prices, customers can reserve single seats and group tables to private conference rooms. Any customer can reserve their space up to two days in advance on the HanaHaus website. In addition, HanaHaus boasts a 100 seat auditorium for rent and for its own sponsored events. According to the website, these events could include “design thinking workshops, innovation showcases, speakers, musical events and more.”

Arguably, the most innovative amenity of the HanaHaus workspace is the tech desk. The concept is a way to connect entrepreneurs with experienced mentors. In following with the design thinking model that HanaHaus promotes, the company is still in the process of developing the best way to lay out the tech desk. However, it retains the hope that the tech desk will facilitate bonds between those experienced in the technology field and those just starting out.

HanaHaus has joined a partnership with Blue Bottle to form a cafe. Blue Bottle is a local artisanal coffee company based in Oakland, known for its emphasis on fresh flavor by only serving coffee within 48 hours of roasting. In addition to coffee, the cafe offers breakfast, lunch and dinner entrees, as well as assorted pastries. A popular cafe item is the granola, which can be combined with yogurt and fruit or easily picked up to go in pre-packaged bars. In either form, the granola offers a sweet and salty study snack for hardworking students. Another bakery favorite is the olive oil shortbread, a moist and buttery cookie with a hint of herbal flavor. The fresh, healthy menu coincides with the young clientele but can be a bit pricy, with a salad coming in at around $10. Blue Bottle is known for its coffee, but non-coffee drinkers have the option of choosing rich hot chocolate or tea. Blue Bottle coffee’s cult following constitutes a main reason for HanaHaus’s early success.

Junior Alisha Kumar, a frequent patron of HanaHaus and Blue Bottle cafe, attests to the coffee as a driving factor in her love of the space.

“I really love Blue Bottle coffee,” Kumar said. “It’s absolutely amazing, and even if you don’t go there to work, you should stop by to pick up a latte.”

The open-air study space and community atmosphere also draw Palo Alto High School students to HanaHaus.

“Everyone there is very productive, and it’s a great environment to get work done in,” junior Danielle Bisbee said.

Move over Paly library — HanaHaus might be the new top study spot for students.