As we ramp up for the opening of The Crown: Royal Coffee Lab & Tasting Room in Oakland, California, we felt it was appropriate to highlight the professionals, artisans & designers who are bringing our vision to light. Read all about The Crown on our blog here.

Ask anyone in the Bay Area restaurant scene who their preferred General Contractor is for flagship establishments and odds are you’ll hear, Northern Sun. When it came time to choose the General Contractor for The Crown, we only had to reflect fondly on some of our favorite places to drink coffee and dine in the Bay Area. Not from here? On your next visit, cross the Bay Bridge to San Francisco to see Coffee Bar Kearny followed by lunch at Tacolicious and early afternoon cocktails at Bar Agricole and you will understand just how talented the professionals and craftspeople at Northern Sun are. Even better, join us at The Crown for coffee in our tasting room and sneak away to Comal in Berkeley to experience their work without crossing the bridge. To learn more about these trailblazers, read our interview below.

Group Photo: Studio Terpeluk, Norman Sanchez Architecture, Northern Sun & Chambers Art and Design at The Crown

Hi Ian! Please introduce yourself.

Hello. My name is Ian Tallon. I am the Owner and CEO of Northern Sun Associates Inc. We are the General Contractor for The Crown. I have been working on commercial construction projects in the Bay Area for over twenty years. I am a native of Ireland and have lived in San Francisco for twenty two years.


How did you get involved with The Crown: Royal Coffee Lab & Tasting Room?

We have performed several high profile restaurant and food service build-outs in the Bay Area over the years and I believe that this experience allowed us to be included on the selected list of contractors that initially bid on the project. I felt that my staff here at Northern Sun Associates Inc. and the Royal Coffee team would make a great pairing and was excited to get the opportunity to bid on such an exciting project.


What is your role with the project?

We have a very experienced superintendent on site full time, Mr. Brian Kyne, who very carefully manages every on site phase of this build-out. We also have a skilled Project Manager, Mr. Richard Lyttle, who handles all logistics, scheduling, material deliveries and interfacing with both city and county building and utility departments.

My role is ensure that we provide the best service possible during all phases of this project and that we are providing the level of expertise and detail that a complex project like this needs.

Left to Right: Ian Tallon, Richard Lyttle, Brian Kyne & Pete Jacobs


How would you describe The Crown: Royal Coffee Lab & Tasting Room?

This is a very exciting project to be involved in as there are some very challenging and unique details that need constant attention. I am very excited to see the finished product as there has been a lot of work put into the overall design of the space and there are also multiple very skilled craftspeople working on putting it all together.


Have you ever done a coffee project before? If so, can you share?

We were the General Contractor for two Coffee Bar build-outs in San Francisco and have performed numerous restaurant and bar projects that also included smaller coffee stations.


What’s been the biggest challenge of designing & building The Crown: Royal Coffee Lab & Tasting Room?

One of the biggest challenges from a constructability stand point is that a lot of the structural members which typically get covered up, are also part of the overall finished Architectural look. For example, the wooden members for the superstructure that surrounds the various rooms, needed to be handled as finished materials, which becomes a challenge as some these objects weigh over 1,000 lbs.

We are very tight on space and installing heavy structural steel and heavy wood beams and posts in locations with sometimes less than 1/16” tolerance has been difficult, but an exciting challenge for us all.



What’s been the biggest surprise of designing & building The Crown: Royal Coffee Lab & Tasting Room?

We are fortunate enough to have been involved in a lot of one of a kind restaurant build outs over the years and although every project is different, the potential issues that could arise are usually the same. So not too many surprises for us.

What is the best way for people to contact you?

Ian Tallon
Northern Sun Associates Inc.
200 South Spruce Avenue, Ste. 9
So. San Francisco, CA. 94080