SEVEN-YEAR VACANCY ENDS ... In what may be one of Palo Alto's longest commercial/retail vacancies ever, the wait is over and a new tenant is preparing to move in. After seven years, the space in Charleston Shopping Center, between Mountain Mike's Pizza and Pet Food Depot, is finally rented. Huntington Learning Center has signed on as its occupant. The space has been dark ever since Neighborhood Liquor and Video moved out in October 2005 after an eight-year-run. The renovation to transform the spot into an after-school student tutoring service is expected to take about six months for a scheduled April 2013 opening. "It's a good location and Palo Alto has a very nice student community," Huntington franchise-owner Harpreet Soni said. The learning center offers academic skills, subject tutoring and exam preparation for students from kindergarten through high school. "We're eager to help every child to do their best. We want our kids to have a better future," Soni said.
PASTA? RETOOLED ... The 15-year-old restaurant whose name asks a question is no more. Pasta?, 326 University Ave., served its last meal on Oct. 28. "But it's not closed for good. We're changing it over completely. It's a brand new concept," Pasta Q Owner Gianni Chiloiro said. One of the numerous changes is the new name, Figo, which means "cool," according to Chiloiro. Another change is the addition of a unique Italian brick oven, which will reach a temperature of 900 degrees and will be able to cook a pizza in 90 seconds. Now that's fast. And cool. The major renovation, which will undergo floor-to-ceiling changes, is expected to be completed by Thanksgiving week. "We're working day and night on this. New tables, new chairs, new chandeliers, and lots of wood and steel. It's both a modern and a classic design," Chiloiro said. The menu will also see a dramatic change. "You won't find chicken Parmigiana and veal scallopini here. Trends have changed. We'll have lots of small plates," he said. Items such as flan of zucchini, octopus, and gnocchetti with duck ragout will be featured on the menu. There will also be a new chef. "It's my nephew who just arrived here from Italy and he has been working under a master chef. We're going to put some great food out there," Chiloiro said.
49ERS OPEN FIRST STORE EVER AT T&C ... Not to be outdone by the San Francisco Giants Dugout stores, the San Francisco 49ers has opened its first-ever permanent retail store in Palo Alto at Town & Country Village Shopping Center. In addition to 49ers apparel and gear, the store features a "Santa Clara Stadium Interactive Preview Area," where prospective seat buyers can sit down in real stadium seats and test out potential sightline views. "With the grand opening of the 49ers Team Store in Palo Alto, we want to ensure our fans have easy access to all the latest 49ers merchandise throughout the season," said 49ers Chief Operating Officer Paraag Marathe.
LIVEGREENE TO CLOSE ... Livegreene is calling it quits. After just two and a half years, the eco-friendly store at 158 University Ave. will close on Nov. 28. Lots of unusual, recycled items are currently available for as much as half off original prices.