Ovens Go Cold at Specialty's as China Basin Cafe Shutters

Something happened today that's just about as rare as snowfall in Dolores Park: A Specialty's Cafe closed.

Just after noon today, workers at the Specialty's at 185 Berry Street in China Basin were wheeling empty baking racks out into the courtyard of the block-long building on Berry Street, next to AT&T Park ― the same building that houses SFoodie's luxurious offices. Craig Saxton, who opened the first Specialty's in 1988 with wife Dawn, tells us he couldn't come to an agreement with the landlord about terms for a renewed lease.

“We'd love to still be there, the store does fantastic, but our rent was going to triple,” Saxton says. Specialty's acceded to a rent increase, but not the one the landlord asked for. There are six remaining Specialty's in San Francisco, and the S.F.-based company has expanded to Southern California, Seattle, and Chicago.

A spokesman for the ownership of China Basin disputes Saxton's claims about a tripling of the rent. He says landlord began negotiating with Specialty's in December 2009 about funding upgrades to the space and paying market rent, something that would have resulted in a 25-percent increase.

If you've never worked in the Financial District, here's a Specialty's primer: massive, slablike cookies that emerge from in-store ovens several times daily, irresistible lures for cube rats. SFoodie's never been a fan, exactly ― they're more about size than finesse ― but it's impossible to deny their pull on the id.

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