Normally zen, tea lounge evacuated after crash


A damaged car sits outside Samovar Tea Lounge after a crash Sunday. Photo by Eder Melo/

Samovar Tea Lounge, a San Francisco café, closed its Sanchez Street location on Sunday afternoon after an SUV lost control, rolled backward down 18th Street and crashed into the building’s facade. Jesse Jacobs, founder of Samovar, said the crash forced the café to close for seven hours, costing the tea room several thousand dollars’ worth of business.

“We were out here full of people relaxing and connecting over tea, which is what we do, and out of the blue a car came rolling down the street and smashed into the front corner of our daily business,” Jacobs said. “But at the end of the day, nobody was tragically hurt, which is amazing.”

Injuries inside the cafe were minor. The driver — whom investigators said might have suffered a seizure — and a woman who was sitting outside the cafe when she was struck by the vehicle, were taken to the hospital, according to KGO-TV.

Reestablishing the front corner of Samovar at the intersection of Sanchez and 18th streets and replacing the glass windows there remains the café’s only required repairs. Jacobs began appraising the repairs with a contractor on Monday; though he does not yet have an estimate for the costs of the damage, he expects business insurance and the driver’s insurance to cover the fees. He believes the repairs should be complete within a week.

Jacobs estimated that this branch of Samovar attracts an average of 20 customers per hour, and that the café probably lost less than $10,000 in revenue Sunday. The crash did not represent a particularly tough blow to the company. Jacobs also said he is not worried about the boarded-up windows deterring business because Samovar attracts many regular customers who would be aware that the café is open.

The crash forced everyone in the building, including the residents in the apartments above Samovar, to evacuate Sunday. Jacobs confirmed that all residents have been able to return to the building, and that the historic nature of the building poses no special challenges for repairs.

“This is sort of a walk in the park as challenges go, but it’s one of the biggest scares, definitely,” Jacobs said. The Sanchez Street location represents Samovar’s original café, which opened in 2001. The company also operated cafés in Hayes Valley at Page and Laguna streets and in the South of Market neighborhood at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.

Rescue workers survey the scene after a vehicle ran into the Samovar Tea Lounge on Sanchez street. Photo by Eder Melo/

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