News

Shop Talk: Two newcomers, four goners downtown

NEW BLOOMIES UNDERWAY AT MALL ... A new Bloomingdale's is scheduled to open at Stanford Shopping Center later this year. It will be located in the former parking lot in front of the current Bloomingdale's, which will remain open until the new three-story building is completed, according to a source familiar with the construction.

Plans then call for the older building to be demolished to make way for a cluster of small stores. "We're shooting for an October opening. The store will have about the same square footage as it does now, but the new Bloomingdale's will be taller and narrower," the source said.

TWO NEWCOMERS, FOUR GONERS DOWNTOWN ... Lots of movement lately in downtown Palo Alto. Brand-new to University Avenue is Marine Layer, a San Francisco-based clothing store that opened last month at 435 University.

It initially came to Palo Alto as a holiday pop-up store but now looks like it may be a keeper.

"We'll be at this location for at least a couple more months," Marine Layer marketing director Meg Williams said, adding: "We'll see how our sales do, but we're very excited we finally found a spot in Palo Alto."

This is Marine Layer's third store in the Bay Area. The company, which also has locations in Venice, Calif., and Portland, Ore., says all of its clothing uses 100 percent California-made fabric. Another fairly new business downtown is Infinite Beauty, a skin-care shop at 267 University. The menu for facials has prices ranging from $50 for a 20-minute eye treatment to more than $500 for a "Platinum Facial."

Among businesses that will no longer grace the street, at least for now, is Rudy's Pub, whose last day in business was Jan. 1. The pub was a 50-plus-year fixture in Palo Alto that was a throwback to the 1960s, according to one patron who described himself as a regular named Joe.

"I don't go for fancy. Rudy's has everything I need. They know me. I know them. Just grab me a beer," he said.

Pub owner Megan Kawkab said some her "regulars" have been coming to Rudy's for 45 years.

"I'm going to miss this place. I know every square inch of every nook and cranny," Kawkab said. But she also expressed optimism. "We hope to reopen just down the street in six months, maybe less. I can't tell you exactly where yet, but it will be on University Avenue," she said.

And although Rudy's is gone, its sister restaurant, The Patio, which opened in 2011, will remain in business at 412 Emerson St. Also gone is Mango Caribbean, a Jamaican-style restaurant at 435 Hamilton Ave. Best known for its jerk chicken, it closed in November after eight years in business. Empire Vintage Clothing, which sold clothing and costumes from the 1940s through the '80s, closed its doors last week at 443 Waverley St. and will be opening later this month in Mountain View, at 831 Villa St.

"My rent went up by 35 percent. There's just not enough foot traffic anymore to justify that increase. There are too many restaurants downtown and people don't come here to shop like they used to," Empire Vintage owner Tiffany Gush said. She said the move to Mountain View is a prudent one because "The rent is cheaper, and the space is bigger."

And the 65-year-old art supply and gift store University Art announced that it plans to close its 267 Hamilton Ave. location this spring and move to Redwood City.

Comments

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Enough!
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jan 3, 2014 at 10:36 am

The greed of landlords in Palo Alto is patently egregious.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by resident
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 3, 2014 at 10:39 am

I'm glad that businesses are able to find more affordable rents in Mountain View. That is a more family-friendly atmosphere anyway, unlike the yuppie-only downtown Palo Alto.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Sad, Sad Sad...
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 3, 2014 at 10:43 am

So sad to see stores and restaurants leave downtown Palo Alto because of landlords who continually increase rent every year and push out good establishments that help make up why residence love going downtown.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by DTN
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 3, 2014 at 10:45 am

Unstated is the fact that mango is being converted into ground floor office space. That is a travesty. Either bad zoning or bad enforcement.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Native Palo Altan
a resident of Green Acres
on Jan 3, 2014 at 11:00 am

Palo Alto is losing it's charm. It is very sad to see so many family owned and operated businesses being forced out.

Add to that, the horrible traffic and insane building variances for "public benefit" it may be time to get out of here.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Jan 3, 2014 at 11:08 am

Simple supply and demand, you constrain supply and prices go up. Palo Alto is not somehow immune to the laws of basic economics.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Yogi Berra
a resident of Stanford
on Jan 3, 2014 at 11:31 am

"Nobody goes there anymore…it's too crowded."


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Palo Alto Native Daughter
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jan 3, 2014 at 11:32 am

So sad to see the changes that are turning Palo Alto into a town I no longer recognize in which the civilities of a more civilized time are vanishing. You can't even be sure that you won't be mowed down by an inattentive driver when you are downtown. If this is progress, let me out of here!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Platinum Facial
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 3, 2014 at 11:33 am

Narcissism has been turned into profitable businesses. Actually that money might better be spent on therapists to help overcome this unattractive trait. It's part of what has been called the Princess Industry.
On our main business street? Yuk.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by llfried
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 3, 2014 at 2:53 pm

llfried is a registered user.

Maybe California Avenue could become what University Avenue has destroyed. We can only hope that we can hold off the Golden Hordes until we can vote out the City Council.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Downtowner
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jan 3, 2014 at 2:57 pm

Actually, until 1966, this was The Tangent, owned & operated by the Feldman family.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Downtowner
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jan 3, 2014 at 3:00 pm

re: above, self edit - The Tangent preceded Rudy's by many years.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Time is up
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jan 3, 2014 at 3:01 pm

Palo Alto has lost the qualities that we came here for. Time to move on to greener pastures.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Home Grown Girl
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 3, 2014 at 3:01 pm

The ambiance and livability of Palo Alto is quickly being destroyed. [Portion removed.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by stephen levy
a resident of University South
on Jan 3, 2014 at 3:46 pm

stephen levy is a registered user.

When you all leave, are you going to sell your homes at a substantial discount to allow lower income households to move in or are you, like the landlords you call greedy, going to sell at the market prices.

Why are landlords who charge market rents or sell property at market prices called greedy when homeowners do this all the time and feel that they, like commercial property owners, deserve the monetary gains from their investments.

It is one thing to mourn the loss of favorite shopping places as rents rise. It is quite another to cast blame when I suspect most if not all posters rent or sell their residential property at market prices.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Jan 3, 2014 at 4:04 pm

@stephen levy

You obviously don't get it. We're not the cause of these problems, its someone else.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Home Grown Girl
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 3, 2014 at 4:15 pm

[Post removed.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by stephen levy
a resident of University South
on Jan 3, 2014 at 4:15 pm

stephen levy is a registered user.

@ Robert,

Lol. That's right--its always someone else's fault--at least on Town Square.

But then, you don't get it either--writing all that nonsense about the laws of supply and demand applying in Palo Alto. Hahaha--have a nice weekend.

But change is hard sometimes and most of us have places we liked to shop or dine at that are no longer here. That part is real.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Lets get real
a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 3, 2014 at 4:46 pm

I dont want men pushing skin care coupons on me like a las vegas strip shows (infinate beauty is a division of palo alto medical foundation). Its creepy


 +   Like this comment
Posted by llfried
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 3, 2014 at 4:50 pm

llfried is a registered user.

For some, Mr. Levy, you could be right. They do take advantage of their appreciated home equity to retire to a place where it's less costly to live.
On the other hand, those of us who would like to preserve Palo Alto "as-it-was"
are those who are here to stay. We raised our kids here, we saw our grandchildren born here, we supported our schools and we tried to keep our parks and neighborhoods from being invaded by condos and high-rises.
We are disgusted with the planning decisions of our "city planners" and we exceptionally take exception to the exceptions from zoning that are being handed out to builders that have no interest in our community other than short term profits.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Rupert of henzau
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 3, 2014 at 8:17 pm

[Post removed.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Sad
a resident of Community Center
on Jan 3, 2014 at 9:00 pm

Robert, no matter how distasteful you find Home Grown's comments, she's not all wrong. I pass Steve Jobs house every evening, and I've seen buses and the tourists. ... and if you throw in DeLeon's stupid real estate gawking bus, the whole thing smacks of LA and star tours. Tacky, tacky. Palo Alto had actually become Shallow Alto.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mayfield Child
a resident of Green Acres
on Jan 4, 2014 at 4:27 am

I was not born with sharp fangs, with drool hanging from my lips, fire from my breath, or wringing my hands together with bodacious thoughts of getting greedy....I AM FROM THE "OLD SCHOOL", was taught manners without a sinister coverup, awaiting to stab someone in the back when they thought us friends......It's ironic that someone can walk down the streets of Palo Alto day after day and not even come across someone whom they used to know, of someone who grew up with them....Most ALL replanted people are walking the streets here!!! Most all my childhood friends have moved out years ago~ I keep hearing that they wish they could return but due to the high rolling bank roll that you have to have to make that move, they find it nearly impossible to return to their roots..I miss my friends and those gentle people that once inhabited our mello little town.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 4, 2014 at 7:14 am

The reality is that PA has been a more expensive real estate buy over neighboring cities for decades. This is not a new phenomenon and can hardly be blamed on the new comers that migrated here in the last decade. Even back in the 60s PA was significantly more expensive than (for example) Menlo Park.

And, btw, it is not like PA has a lock on expensive home prices in this area. Go look at a MP 50s rancher on a 1/4 acre near Oak Knoll school and your looking at almost $3mil. And what about all of the latest real estate (prices, Ellis Act, high tech gentrification) issues in SF? Los Altos is pretty expensive, as is Saratoga, Los Gatos, Montesereno, Ladera, Portola Valley, Woodside and so on.

I just checked...Of the 25 listings in Los Altos, 18 are single family homes. None are priced below $2.4mil.

So the "Palo Alto is destroyed" or the "shallow alto" claims ring a bit hollow for me.

The fact is that the real estate in the entire region is expensive.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Nora Charles
a resident of Stanford
on Jan 5, 2014 at 12:40 am

Stephen Levy, The difference between commercial property owners and homeowners is that the former usually own or control many properties, while homeowners typically own only one home, and no is being hurt by the sale of the home. The commercial landlords can afford to give small businesses (such as Shady Lane) a break by not raising rents every year, and still turn a tidy profit. Your analogy is just a tad off to me.

And by the way, if Shady Lane IS forced to close, I am never setting foot on University Ave. again.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Bru
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 5, 2014 at 10:27 am

Bru is a registered user.

The problem with commercial real estate is when rents get to high the good is flushed out by the bad. That is to say for example, restaurants, prices go up to pay the rent, but people's salaries do not go up, except a few, so in the intervening period where the rising residential real estate prices makes "riff raft" of Palo Alto's residents and forces them out, most of the people have to pay more for less in restaurants. Restaurants and service goes down, they get more crowded, the scrimp on ingredients to be able to make more profits - for commercial owners who have paid off their buildings long ago.

Who and how you want to characterize any side of the issue is your own choice, but something is lost in the town and that is undeniable ... in fact most of the whole town is lost while some people are basically selling it off. That's the way we do business for now, because there has always been some other place to go. In all of our lifetimes that will not change, so we just have to live with it. Why this uncontrolled inhuman situation has forced many other countries to institute land reform and other programs because the "rigged" market game only helps the very few.

At some point we either screw up the entire country, or planet until there is no place else to go, or we figure out a new way to do things in a more positive way, or we can have big wars and kill off lots of people and hope it doesn't go nuclear and destroy everything.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Palo Alto Native
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Jan 5, 2014 at 12:30 pm

Completely agree with Steven Levy's posting about homeowners selling at market prices rather than selling to low-income families.

I always wondered how some of the stores downtown could stay in business - I mean - how many pencils or items of clothing can one sell per day to be able to pay rent?

The high rent of downtown ensures that popular businesses will endure, such as Lululemon - stores that are unique enough to be destinations as well as popular to most consumers for walk-in purchases. What's wrong with having popular stores with merchandise or food that more people like? People here are selfishly whining about the closure of businesses that aren't universally popular and downtown will not miss their $$$ if they chose to boycott.

That said, the City Council should enact some sort of rent control for popular stores with small square footage to keep some uniqueness downtown.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jan 5, 2014 at 12:42 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

What IS the status of Shady Lane?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Jan 5, 2014 at 2:40 pm

Let's look at Stanford Mall for a moment. First it drove businesses out or away from Downtown, things like free parking and larger shops. Downtown Palo Alto had stores come and go, or just could not shrivels rental increases today or 25 years ago. Palo Alto has grown in wealth, prestige and for the last 30 years has been attractive to high end.

Look at Walnut Creek.

Downtown Mountain View went from sleepy to desired and who knows in the future.

As for homeowners go with selling above the price, wouldn't the mortgage company which has the note. Greedy landlords, I don't like them either but hey it is free market. If you don't like the changes, don't into the latest trend, fad, crazy or newest product. Apple, HP, Facebook, Google, Tesla and Asian Box.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by stephen levy
a resident of University South
on Jan 5, 2014 at 9:40 pm

stephen levy is a registered user.

Nora,

Why wouldn't you go to University Avenue if Shady Lane closed or moved? Is it really the ONLY place there that you ever go?

When Hobee's ( our favorite restaurant had to close at T & C from a rent increase), it never crossed our mind to boycott T & C.

I have seen many favorite places come and go on University Avenue over the past 50 years. Why does the loss of a favorite place prompt such a statement from you?

If it really is the only place on University that you like, I can understand. Is that so or is this some kind of retribution and if so, what do you hope to accomplish?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 5, 2014 at 9:57 pm

Alarm bells keep going off with each new project and the impacts keep growing. Now Shady Lane is threathened by yet another multi-story project. The transformation of the Downtown fed by the City's pro-development policies with minimal control goes on. The traffic and parking impacts grow worse. A small group of developers never look back, never look forward as to where we are going and enjoys the profits. The City Council equates office square footage with power, influence, status as a City and the
party rolls on. The Mayor compares Palo Alto to other cities on their terms
not on our terms as a city with unique qualities which are being lost in this development mania.














 +   Like this comment
Posted by Fred
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 5, 2014 at 11:20 pm

"At some point we either screw up the entire country, or planet until there is no place else to go, or we figure out a new way to do things in a more positive way, or we can have big wars and kill off lots of people and hope it doesn't go nuclear and destroy everything."

Wow, I had no idea so much was at stake with retail rents in humble Palo Alto ;-)

There is something to be said, in my view, to limiting chain-format retail/food, since it can create a retail environment that lacks local color and distinctiveness. But if stores can't afford the rent others are willing to pay, then hopefully they will more elsewhere and their customers can follow. Shady Lane on California Ave? Why not?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Downtowner
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jan 6, 2014 at 3:00 pm

Does anyone know how many parking spaces Stanford Shopping Center loses for the new Bloomies & Flemings? Is there a required ratio for parking vs shopping-dining?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Rupert of henzau
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 6, 2014 at 3:45 pm

Her you go downtowner:
Web Link
"Stanford Shopping Center currently has 5,826 parking spaces, but the proposed project would eliminate 260 spaces, leaving the center with more than the required number of 5,284 spaces."

Note how once again a Stanford- related entity provides more than is called for-- I


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Wayne
a resident of Ventura
on Jan 6, 2014 at 5:45 pm

Quite right, Stephen Levy, re: Nora's remark.

I would add: If you're really jonesin' for the Moody Blues, Nora, go down to the Apple store and buy an iSomething and you can listen to the Moody Blues ANYTIME YOU WANT TO.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Nora Charles
a resident of Stanford
on Jan 6, 2014 at 6:02 pm

Stephen,

Regarding Shady Lane--I've shopped there for about 12 years, but I dine on the street often. It is the only place I've found that offers an extraordinary array of local, hand made goods. The owner and employees are lovely people who care deeply about their customers. They offer exquisite, complimentary gift wrapping. It is a special place, an oasis from the often soulless chain stores. If I want to buy a bicycle or tennis shoes or electronic equipment there are many choices around town. If I want an oversized bronze rabbit, there is only one.

As for avoiding University Ave. should Shady Lane be forced to close due to skyrocketing rent, it is a choice I would make with great sadness. But as they are the heart of the street--to me at least--it would be devastating to pass by and discover a cell phone or yogurt shop in their place. To you I may sound like an emotional dame, and I imagine you're right.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Nora Charles
a resident of Stanford
on Jan 6, 2014 at 6:10 pm

Wayne,

Your remark is a bit over my head. While I do like the Moody Blues ("Go Now" is a fav), I think I'd prefer listening to them on my victrola.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 6, 2014 at 6:54 pm

Nora Charles is right about Shady Lane, she is right about what matters,
she is also right about the Moody Blues.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by stephen levy
a resident of University South
on Jan 7, 2014 at 10:34 am

stephen levy is a registered user.

Nora,

Thanks for helping me understand what you meant.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Aquamarine
a resident of Stanford
on Jan 7, 2014 at 2:42 pm

Nora Charles should have a blog here! I'd crank up my Victrola and do a happy dance if she had a blog.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 7, 2014 at 2:57 pm

She would have to include Nick and Asta too...

;-)


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Nora Charles
a resident of Stanford
on Jan 7, 2014 at 6:35 pm

Thanks very much for the kind replies. I was worried what I might find! Stephen, I bet we might see eye to eye on lots of things. Except maybe the bronze bunnies.

resident, you've made my day. Thank you.

Aquamarine, you're welcome to shake a leg to my victrola any ol' time! As for a blog, maybe I should just stick to unpopular comments.

Crescent Dad, Oh, yes!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jan 7, 2014 at 8:13 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

Gosh, reading these latest comment from Crescent Park Dad & Nora Charles just made me miss an era I never knew, sigh. Happy New Year to you both :-)


 +   Like this comment
Posted by resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 7, 2014 at 9:54 pm

"Shady Lane is the heart of the street, to me at least" - Nora Charles.

This personal statement, so beautifully put, sums it up for those of us
who are so opposed to what is happening to our City under current policies and where this Council is taking us. Nora's statement is worlds apart from
what we heard from the Council - "the public benefit is in the building
itself" referring to one of the new mega office projects.

And Shady Lane should put Nora's statement "the heart of the street" on a banner across the front of the building.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by pat
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 8, 2014 at 3:52 pm

@Nora Charles, please add me to your fan club. Your nom de plume is enough to make me join.

Shady Lane is one of the few remaining stores from the old days and they have so many unique and wonderful treasures. It would be a big loss to see them go.

I also miss all the theatres, especially the Varsity, where you could enjoy your cake and coffee at a seat with a table while you watched old movies. And enjoy live acts at the bar or in the courtyard. Then there was the Fine Arts on Hamilton with beanbag chairs. And the Bijou, next to Old Uncle Gaylord's ice cream parlor.
Sigh.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 8, 2014 at 4:49 pm

Another gift shop to consider is Ascot at T&C. It is owned and operated by one of our neighbors.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jan 8, 2014 at 9:56 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

Crescent Park Dad - I've not bought anything there yet, but it is alluring. Thank you for the recommendation.

Shady Lane, well, it's been one of my go-to places since childhood. My DH loves shopping for me there. I make sure that all of the young girls in my life get special gifts from there at some point. When my sis passed the state bar, she received lovely jewelry from Shady Lane.

I recall when it was on - what - Emerson? Or was it High St, before University?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 9, 2014 at 1:56 pm

Sorry, the shop name is Astor. And the bad news is that the shop is going to close. Had a very nice discussion with our friend who owns the shop. The rent is high at T&C, but that is not the reason for closing. Just decided it was time to do something different that would not take as much of her time.

Get over there now --- great sale of 30-50% off.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Nora Charles
a resident of Stanford
on Jan 11, 2014 at 1:43 am

Hmmm, People your life are lucky to receive such lovely gifts. Wishing you a wonderful 2014!

resident, Thanks for your kind words. It is a magical, calm, spot, just bursting with enchantment. I've even found gifts there for Mr. C, no easy feat!

pat, I am honored. The real Nora Charles sure has big shoes to fill! The theatres, restaurants, and wonderful Mom and Pop shops of that era sound delightful. There's a great thread somewhere here on P.A. Online with people's reminiscences of those long lost days.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by GpHec
a resident of Stanford
on Jan 11, 2014 at 1:47 am

Crescent Park Dad, Great tip about your friend's shop--I'll have a look!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Davis fan
a resident of another community
on Jan 21, 2014 at 11:18 am

How sad that Shady Lane might close. I have shopped there for years and now that I live further away, I make a special effort to stop by when I'm in the area. Great selection of items, nicely displayed and wonderful, helpful owner and sales people. I can always find just the right thing there, whether for myself or others.


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