A&E

Shop Talk: Yoga Center calling it quits, new Chase bank

40-YEAR-OLD DOWNTOWN YOGA CENTER FORCED OUT ... It's the final namaste for Palo Alto's oldest yoga studio. The California Yoga Center, 541 Cowper St., has lost its lease and will close on June 30, 2014. The 800-square-foot yoga studio has been in its current location for nearly 40 years, but the building's owner has decided to remodel. The studio is considered a Palo Alto institution by some. It has gone through a few name changes, but the current name, California Yoga Center (CYC), has stuck for eight years.

"In a way, we've been expecting this, but it still comes as a shock," said Larry Hatlett, a popular yoga instructor who looks far younger than his 69 years. Hatlett has been a part of the center since 1975 and estimates that he has taught more than 10,000 classes in the Palo Alto studio.

"We've seen a surge in the popularity of yoga over the years. There was a time in the 1970s when we were the only yoga center between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Now there are thousands," he said. The yoga center has developed a dedicated following, with an estimated student population of 300. Hatlett is trying to find a new space for his own students, many of whom have been with him for 20 years, but admits, "This could easily be the end. It's all about money."

One of Hatlett's devotees is Sunnyvale resident Bob Roberts. "I started here because of a back injury 36 years ago, and I never left," Roberts said. Although there is a second CYC in Mountain View, Hatlett, who currently teaches five classes, said there are no times available for him in the Mountain View facility. Looking back, Hatlett said his mother came to Palo Alto in 1920. "I have lived in this area my whole life. But this is now a place for the wealthy. A city that has only high-tech offices, financial institutions, restaurants and chain stores is a city without charm. Clearly, Palo Alto is headed there," he said.

FOURTH CHASE BANK TO OPEN IN PALO ALTO ... Chase Bank apparently loves Palo Alto. It recently opened its third branch in this town last month in the renovated Edgewood Plaza and has scheduled an April opening for its fourth in Town & Country Village. The other two are on Middlefield Road in Midtown and Hamilton Street downtown.

Heard a rumor about your favorite store or business moving out, or in, down the block or across town? Daryl Savage will check it out. Email shoptalk@paweekly.com.

Comments

Posted by resident, a resident of South of Midtown
on Mar 7, 2014 at 9:58 am

I hope these businesses that are kicked out of downtown can find new space in other parts of the city. I know there are many under-utilized buildings in the southern and eastern parts of Palo Alto. Besides, if parking problems are preventing people from visiting downtown businesses, why not move the businesses closer to where people live?


Posted by Andrea Lichter, a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 8, 2014 at 12:10 pm

I have lived in downtown Palo Alto for over 30 years and I am so disappointed to see the changes in culture and charm to our downtown. As other cities on the Peninsula strive to create downtown areas that are a mixture of restaurants along with small shops and services, Palo Alto celebrates the boom in the Valley's economy with a significant increase in tech start-ups, banks, venture capital firms, etc., that even spill into the residential areas of downtown. These businesses can be found in the many "nooks and crannies" of the downtown streets, including old houses. This, at the expense of losing the shops and services that served the Palo Alto community for so many years and gave Palo Alto its charm and distinctive culture. I mourn the loss of the CA Yoga Center, University Art Center and Gallery, the Annex (part of Form Fitness), Magabooks, etc. These small businesses promoted a sense of community which is being diminished as they leave Palo Alto to benefit other cities that seek balance for their downtowns and can offer more affordable rents and leases.


Posted by Ann Douglas, a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 9, 2014 at 9:11 am

There is no more appropriate response to this SHOP TALK column than to note the poignant positioning of the two news items. The first, announcing the forced closure of the 40-year-old California Yoga Center, immediately followed by "FOURTH CHASE BANK TO OPEN IN PALO ALTO..."


Posted by Change is terrible, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 9, 2014 at 9:23 am

Yes. It is terrible that things chnage over time. It is unfortunate that paloalto could not be locked in a time capsule so that we could preserve the way the city was 30 years ago. Everything was so wonderful then. It is too bad that palo alto can not be more like Detroit.


Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 9, 2014 at 9:59 am

I am not one for the "Change is Bad" argument. I do not think Palo Alto should stay the same as it always was (whatever that means it will mean something different to different people), but I think we should be looking at how it is changing.

It used to be a town whereby you could live in the town, perhaps work outside in a neighboring town, but you could spend your recreation, shopping, personal business, within the confines of the town. Nowadays it is getting less likely that most people will do that. Shopping is more affordable outside town, there is less to do for almost any age in town (apart from some excellent kids sports), and even personal business is more likely to be done outside Palo Alto. Neighborhood kids used to be able to go to the neighborhood park and know all the other kids there from school. Now neighborhood schools are quite often filled with kids from across town for one reason or another, neighborhood parks are filled with so many camps and sports leagues that just pick up play is almost impossible. Useful businesses such as gas stations, family restaurants, etc. are going upmarket which translates into expensive or generic carbon copies.

I accept that a town such as Palo Alto will evolve. But when it becomes a bedroom community where my neighbors leave before dawn and return long after the sun goes down, it is feeling less like a community and that is the sad part.


Posted by CrescentParkAnon., a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 12, 2014 at 1:25 pm

Change is not bad, per se.
Change just happens ... and part of being human
and having intelligence is to make change = improvement.
Change for the worse is bad,
and change for the better is good.
Palo Alto has mostly been changing for the worse.
Don't know why people waste everyone's time with these
sarcastic posts trying to make it seem like people are
against change or something wrong because they
complain or think things should get better instead of
worse.


Posted by Nora Charles, a resident of Stanford
on Mar 12, 2014 at 3:57 pm

Nora Charles is a registered user.

Andrea Lichter,

Beautifully said. The key words are indeed "culture" and "charm," and a town without these components is a soulless place to live.


Posted by Barry Soetoro, a resident of Professorville
on Mar 12, 2014 at 8:50 pm

I really miss the all of the downtown bookstores. In the 1970s and 1980s there were many:
-Stacey's
-Plowshare
-Shirley Cobb
-Chimera
-Crown Books

Most of these moved on even before the big rise of Amazon in the mid-aughts.


Posted by K, a resident of University South
on Mar 13, 2014 at 4:40 am

It's quite heartbreaking, the direction the community has taken. Andrea Lichter, Ann Douglas, Nora Charles and Barry Soetoro, well said. I have lived in the suburbs of Phoenix, Denver, Seattle, New Orleans and Minneapolis, finally relocating to Palo Alto about ten years ago. I thought I had gone to heaven. Beautiful, pleasantly walkable tree-lined streets and wonderful houses and gardens! Local shopping for every need with many small family businesses, still intact. There was a sense of personal civility, dignity and place that could not be experienced in those massive exurbs. I had hoped that Palo Alto would be a model for the rest of the country with regards the question of "growth". Is growth and change always a good thing? I am of the opinion that it is not in this case. Palo Alto was truly the last of it's kind, at least in my experience.


Posted by Came for the Yoga, a resident of Green Acres
on Mar 13, 2014 at 1:09 pm

The loss of this Yoga Studio is a huge loss to downtown. I found the studio 15 years ago. Businesses like this and the closeness of the community were the main reasons I chose to purchase a home in Palo Alto. Larry Hatlett has inspired all of us through Yoga and we have become a family. We eat, drink, and shop because of our weekly family gathering. Sad that the community doesn't place enough value anymore in these sorts of things.


Posted by Gloria Schulz, a resident of another community
on Mar 13, 2014 at 4:27 pm

I have taken yoga classes from Larry Hatlett At Ca. Yoga Center (formerly Yoga Center of Palo Alto) for close to 20 years. (After obtaining his MBA from Stanford, Larry chose to work in Guatemala in the peace Corps, then study yoga in India before opening the studio). During the time I have been attending this studio, I have met 100's of interesting people from around the world from many walks of life. I mourn that I am not only losing the place where I love to practice yoga, but the gathering of all the people I have met there. The same environment that attracted so many techies to PA is potentially being destroyed by all the higher-paying companies that are moving in.


Posted by Bad change is bad, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Mar 13, 2014 at 7:27 pm

Some prefer to just be stupid ...

What kind of change is this? Borders - out, yoga - out. Banks and high-density housing - in. This still is a university town, by the way, not just a place where lawyers come back to sleep.

Bedroom community? Yes, maybe that is where we are heading but it is going to be a VERY EXPENSIVE bedroom community.


Posted by rani, a resident of Professorville
on Mar 13, 2014 at 7:28 pm

Well - it appears that Palo Alto city council is looking for input into the Comprehensive Plan. Perhaps those wanting a more diverse downtown can express their views there (I say this not knowing very much abou the Plan or process.)

Here's the article: Web Link

I too am sad about the Yoga Center closing. It was one of the first places I "found" when I first moved here and it made me feel at home.




Posted by Gus L., a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 2, 2014 at 7:33 pm

It would be nice if Chase could team up with Starbucks.
That way we could drink a cup of Joe, eat a muffin and make a deposit at the same time...
Four Chase Banks?
How many Starbucks?


Posted by Stella, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 2, 2014 at 10:18 pm

Washington Mutual= Chase. Bad news!


Posted by Bank customer, a resident of University South
on Apr 2, 2014 at 10:56 pm

Not a week goes by that I don't receive in the mail an expensive advert from Chase offering incentives to use their bank.
But after they took over Washington Mutual they raised fees on small accounts that were unbearable. So we left.
Now they want me back? Sorry, goodbye.


Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 3, 2014 at 7:16 am

Got a hundred bucks once (taxable) for opening a no-fee WaMu account. When Chase took over, the monthly fees began, and I immediately closed it out. Several Credit Unions are available around here with much better terms, though it's probably unfair competition and I don't know how long their regulatory advantages will last.


If you were a member and logged in you could track comments from this story.

Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

The dress code
By Jessica T | 21 comments | 1,861 views

Two Days to Save This Dog?
By Cathy Kirkman | 15 comments | 1,230 views

September food and drink goings on
By Elena Kadvany | 0 comments | 1,228 views

. . . People will never forget how you made them feel.
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 1,225 views

It Depends... Disguising Real Characters in Fiction
By Nick Taylor | 0 comments | 398 views