by Lisa Wang
From Starbucks to Philz to Coupa Cafe, Palo Altans have long loved their many coffee shops and cafés. And why wouldn’t they? There is always a demand for cozy, convenient places where people can sit down with a caffeinated beverage and engage in conversation, read a book, or get work done. But while the idea of a café serving as a workspace is not new, software corporation SAP is putting a spin on the concept with its new venture HanaHaus, which opened last week in the historic New Varsity Theater at 456 University Avenue.
So is HanaHaus really a different kind of experience or just another coffee shop? Palo Alto Pulse visited to find out.
What’s cool about HanaHaus – flexible space and a vision for collaboration
The first thing that jumped out when I went to HanaHaus was the variety of ways for people to meet, gather and share ideas. Drawing on the history of the theater as a community hub, SAP has arranged the 15,000 square foot space to offer an array of customized, modern workspaces designed specifically with communication and connection in mind.
Private rooms of varying sizes can be rented out to both individuals and groups to facilitate creative thinking and collaboration without interruption. Dozens of tables tailored for both individual and group use are open to anyone in the Palo Alto community, from soccer moms to high school students to CEOs.
Open seating is free, but Individual space can be reserved online for $3 per hour and four-person spaces for $10 per hour.
HanaHaus also features an 8,000-square-foot space that is reservable for meetings of up to 100 people, and will also be the location of special events coordinated by SAP such as ‘maker’ spaces, design thinking workshops, and TED-like presentations.
HanaHaus has further set itself apart by planning creative ways for people to learn and grow from just one visit. For example, it has a “tech desk” manned by experts. People curious about anything technology-related can simply come up and start a conversation.
What’s familiar about HanaHaus – great coffee and a comfortable vibe
Local coffee aficionados are cheering that San Francisco favorite Blue Bottle Coffee is the featured brew at HanaHaus, along with a menu of pastries, light snacks and breakfast foods.
The decor of HanaHaus reflects its modern vision, with vibrant colors and funky art pieces that balance out structured, minimalist furniture to create a cheerful yet serene vibe.
But one last question – why is SAP opening a café in Palo Alto?
SAP is the fourth largest software company in the world and its core business has nothing to do with serving coffee or facilitating community events. So why did it open HanaHaus?
The café was envisioned by SAP co-founder Dr. Hasso Plattner, who started the German company SAP AG in 1972. The HanaHaus website explains that because “SAP believes to be an innovation leader, it must act beyond its own walls, and it is eager to support Palo Alto’s rich tradition of entrepreneurship. HanaHaus is rooted in the philosophy that great ideas spring from anywhere and often emerge when people come together. It aims to spark new thinking
that impacts people’s lives by changing their relationship to technology, each other and the world.”
So would a high school student in Palo Alto ever hang out at HanaHaus?
From my visit to HanaHaus, I can immediately sense that it is a café and workspace like no other. In addition to its convenient location, aesthetically pleasing interior design, and high-quality food and beverage services, I loved its unique approach of tailoring workspaces to a wide variety of needs and actively creating opportunities for anyone to both learn and spread information.
All photos by Lisa Wang