MEAT RAFFLE WELL DONE ... There's no question that the Peninsula is on the cutting edge when it comes to technology, but as for more traditional items, this area lags far behind. Take, for example, the meat raffle. Popular in Australian and English pubs, as well as parts of Wisconsin and Minnesota, this unusual ticketed raffle gives away a platter of meat as the prize.
Local restaurant owner James Maltby, who hails from England, has revived the practice in his Los Altos restaurant. Every Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. at Maltby's Pub at 101 Plaza North, the restaurant music is turned off so that the "The Mule Skinner Blues," a 1960s song by the Fendermen, can be heard loud and clear.
"I really turn up the volume. That gets everyone's attention. Then I parade around the tables holding a large platter filled with 25 pounds of raw meat. You can't imagine the excitement this creates. And everyone keeps asking me, 'What the heck is a meat raffle?' I explain it as I give each diner a raffle ticket," Maltby said. "Then I select a random table, and instruct someone to reach into the hat and pull out the winning raffle ticket. It's actually quite a spectacle."
And then someone wins 25 pounds of raw meat. A typical platter might include pork roast, brisket, tri-tip, bacon and sausages. Maltby enjoys the humor of a meat raffle. "It's odd, but funny. I mean, who wins meat?" he said.
BREAKFAST SPOT TO REPLACE CAFE SOPHIA ... When businessman John Hsu started looking around for a second site for his successful breakfast cafe in San Carlos, he noticed that Palo Alto's Midtown area was a prime target.
"I didn't see a lot of places for breakfast in the neighborhood," Hsu said. When he saw a vacancy in the former Cafe Sophia, which closed in February after eight years, he realized he had found his location.
The Palo Alto Breakfast House is expected to open in late May or early June at 2706 Middlefield Road, with a renovated interior.
"We painted; there are new floors; and we put new pictures on the wall," he said.
Born in Taiwan, Hsu opened his first restaurant, My Breakfast House , in San Carlos nearly four years ago. It is best known for its French toast and housemade corned-beef hash. The menu also lists four types of oatmeal: raisin, oat, wheat and almond.
"We'll be serving breakfast all day," Hsu said.
MORE COMINGS, MORE GOINGS ... Pacific Catch Fresh Fish Grill is the latest eatery to sign on at the new San Antonio Center in Mountain View. It will be the chain's fourth location in the Bay Area. The eclectic store Daiso, filled with low-priced tchotchkes, closed its doors in San Antonio Center after almost six years in business.
Daiso's other nearby locations (Cupertino, Milpitas, Newark, Daly City and San Jose) remain open.
Also closed last month is the Mountain View Safeway at 2580 California St., which went dark the same day the new 65,000-square-foot Safeway opened a block away. VCA Stanford Animal Hospital has moved up the street and changed its name. After nearly 50 years at 4111 El Camino Real in Palo Alto, it is now calling itself VCA Palo Alto Animal Hospital and is located in a new, glass-enclosed facility at 3944 El Camino, just steps away from Happy Donuts.
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