Since it opened four years ago, Farley’s East has established itself as a hub of Uptown. Co-owner Chris Hillyard, whose father opened the first Farley’s 25 years ago in San Francisco, recalls the location search. It took Hillyard six months of searching before deciding on its current location on Broadway and West Grand.af7d62050ba844bb84b3e69a56da6f74

“We bet on Uptown,” he said, “and it turned out to be a great location.”

The prime location Farley’s East seems obvious now, as the Uptown stretch of West Grand has become something of a lunch corridor, increasingly populated by bars, cafes, and restaurants. But at the time, Hillyard said, people initially warned him against moving into the neighborhood because ‘no one goes to Uptown on the weekends.’”

They had a point.

“No one was there on the weekends,” Hillyard said. “We lost money on the weekends for two years. But Farley’s is a community-based coffeehouse, and you can’t be part of the community if you’re closed 20 percent of the time.”

Hillyard’s logic has paid off. Of the three Farley’s locations—San Francisco, Oakland, and Emeryville, which opened three years ago—the Oakland is the busiest location. This should come as no surprise to Farley’s frequenters, who often wait in lines flowing out the door during the lunch rush.

Hillyard credits a batch of new businesses for bringing people to Uptown, formerly defined by its tall office buildings. But as much as the rise of Farley’s parallels the rise of Uptown as an eating destination, its success cannot be limited to serendipity. Hillyard and his wife, Amy, who co-own Farley’s Oakland and Emeryville stores, have put their money where their mouths are when it comes to establishing a community coffee shop.


Like many beloved coffee shops, Farley’s locations feature a new artist every month; they also feature a different nonprofit every month. At the Oakland store, the café manager yields the storefront display to the nonprofit, and hosts a happy hour benefit for the chosen nonprofit.

While the Oakland display is currently holiday themed,  Hillyard says that the Oakland store has hosted a nonprofit almost every month since they opened, estimating that over 50 Oakland nonprofits have participated in the program. Next month, they will feature the Sustainable Economies Law Center, an organization that provides legal advocacy to local sharing economies.

Though Farley’s receives many requests from developers around the Bay Area, Hillyard has no plans to expand soon.

“We want to be involved and be a part of each location,” he said. [If Farley’s expanded], it would start to lose what we think makes it special.”

As it is, Hillyard spends his days bouncing between the Farley’s. “I try to limit myself to two stores a day,” he said, then added: “I’m probably successful half of the time.”farleys_oakland

To go to Farley’s in Oakland

33 Grand Ave.
Oakland, CA 94612

Mon – Fri 7:00 am – 9:00 pm
Sat – Sun 8:00 am – 9:00 pm


Farley’s  on 65th

1195 65th St.

Mon – Fri 7:30 am – 4:00 pm
Sat – Sun 8:00 am – 3:00 pm

Emeryville, CA 94608

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