Palo Alto Weekly

Eating Out - October 30, 2009

Shop Talk

by Daryl Savage

CANDY FOR A CAUSE ... Nestled in a quaint neighborhood on the Palo Alto/Los Altos border is this area's newest candy store. The Sweet Shop at 994 Los Altos Ave. celebrated its grand opening Oct. 3. But store owner Stacy Sullivan is not a typical entrepreneur. "We didn't get into this to make money," she said. What? "We kept seeing this dilapidated building in our neighborhood and we decided we wanted to make it into something special: a gathering place for the community. And it was also time to give back," said Sullivan, who was an early hire at Google (number 50). She bought the 70-year-old building and spent two years working with the city, the community and designers to create her dream of an old-fashioned candy store. Sullivan, who grew up in Los Altos Hills, says she plans to give all profits from The Sweet Shop to local schools. The building, vacant for four years, is rich with history. The 700-square-foot store began as the Santa Rita Food Shop in the 1940s. It became Foodland about 20 years later and continued as a local market until 2004. After a four-year vacancy it is once again open for business, but this time with an emphasis on sustainability and restored charm. Sullivan, who still works for Google, has apparently thought of everything for the shop — including a landscaped garden with drought-resistant plants, a solar-paneled roof, and candy jars made of glass, not plastic, to ensure non-toxicity.

USED BOOKSTORE TURNING A PAGE ... Know Knew Books at 415 California Ave. in Palo Alto is putting up a good fight for its life. Owner Bill Burruss fears the end is near. "I put up my 'Business for Sale' sign this week. I'm hoping to sell the store, but if I don't, I'll just liquidate. Unless I get a buyer, my end date will be early next year," he said. Burruss does not have any serious buyers yet. "That's what stumps me. You'd think a college town would want a used bookstore." An estimated 70,000 books are piled high on shelves and tables and in boxes. "This store is an institution. It was my life," he said. Burruss plans to move to Oregon after the shop closes.

SIMILAR NAMES, DISSIMILAR STORES ... The next time someone suggests a meeting at Lavanda, better make sure it's a dinner and not a manicure. The Michelin-rated Lavanda Restaurant and Wine Bar at 185 University Ave., which has been serving Mediterranean Italian cuisine in downtown Palo Alto for a few years, is a far cry from the brand new Lavande Nail Spa at Stanford Shopping Center. Lavande (that's with an "e" at the end, not an "a") opened Oct. 23 on the El Camino Real side of the mall.

YOU'RE A STAR ... Talk about Michelin-rated restaurants, Palo Alto, long considered the place to go for tasty cuisine, has a total of nine Michelin-starred restaurants. In addition to Lavanda, they are: St. Michael's Alley, Junnoon, Evvia, Pampas, Mantra, Shokolaat, Tamarine and Bistro Elan. And three more restaurants in nearby communities were recently named to the 2010 Michelin list. They are: The Village Pub in Woodside, Chez TJ in Mountain View and The Plumed Horse in Saratoga. The Michelin Red Guide, or Michelin Guide, next year will mark its 110th year of publication. It was originally published by the Michelin tire company as a way to help drivers find the best places to get car maintenance done on trips to France and, later, Europe. It added the star ratings in the 1920s as it refined its reviews of places to dine.

SPIRIT OF HALLOWEEN ... Halloween does not officially start until tomorrow, but it's been Halloween since late August for one downtown Palo Alto business. The former Z Gallerie, which closed in February at 340 University Ave., has been transformed into a display of Halloween costumes, decorations and accessories with spooky sounds. It will close Nov. 1.

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. She can be e-mailed at shoptalk@paweekly.com.

Comments

Posted by K Neely, a resident of Portola Valley
on Nov 3, 2009 at 4:07 am

The October 30 edition of "Eating Out" confuses a Michelin restaurant guide listing with a Michelin star. Palo Alto has many good restaurants that deserve listing, but none of them received a Michelin star.


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