PHILZ COMES TO PALO ALTO ... The popular Creme de Cafe, 3191 Middlefield Road at Loma Verde Avenue, which abruptly shut its doors Oct. 29, will reopen in two months as Philz Coffee. "We're going to make it brighter, happier, homier. It will be like going to your grandma's house," said Phil Jabor, the new owner. Jabor is no stranger to coffee. After three successful coffee shops in San Francisco, and a fourth poised to open soon in downtown San Jose, Jabor is jumping into Palo Alto head first. His commitment sounds solid: "We're going to be cemented here for life. I can't believe it took us so long to open a shop in Palo Alto," he said. Construction is set to begin this weekend. Jabor has made a name for himself since his first store opened in 2002 on 24th Street in San Francisco. Rarely seen without his fedora, he is an admitted character. "Everyone knows me in San Francisco. They call me the Mayor of 24th Street. Even the Mayor calls me 'the Mayor,'" he said. Jabor has built up a loyal following in the City and believes it's just a matter of time before Peninsula devotees will surface. "My coffee shop is different. There's no big noise from a machine. We make our coffee by hand. We brew it one cup at a time," he said. There will be no big cappuccino makers or frothing spigots. If a customer wants foam it is done the old-fashioned way. "We keep it simple. You order a small or a large. That's it. Nothing fancy," Jabor said. If everything goes as planned, Philz in Palo Alto will open in February. "Think Valentine's Day," he said.
CALAFIA PUTS ON FINISHING TOUCHES ... The much anticipated Calafia will open next month in Town & Country Village. This represents celebrity chef Charlie Ayers' first venture into the public restaurant business. Officially called Calafia Cafe & Market a-Go-Go, the 100-plus-seat cafe, which will face the Embarcadero Road side of the shopping center, will have its grand opening on Jan. 20. "This is my new baby. I will be here every single day," said Ayers, best known as Google's founding Executive Chef and the Grateful Dead's private cook. Ayers will offer fare that he calls gourmet, healthful and fast in a setting that is part dining room and part market. "It is slow food, served fast," he said. Although the menu items are the main draw, customers will also be greeted by a 12-foot-long, 100-pound chandelier made from 71 antique milk bottles. "We found the bottles in an old creamery on the East Coast. Each bottle fits over each bulb," he said. If there's an earthquake? "This space has been totally seismically fitted," he said. No worries, just watch the big chandelier sway.