MING'S OK'D TO BUILD HOTEL ... Ming's Restaurant, at Embarcadero and Bayshore roads in Palo Alto, got the green light earlier this month after unanimous City Council approval for the restaurant to build a four-story, 143-room, extended-stay hotel on the current site. Plans call for an approximate two-thirds reduction in the 15,000-square-foot restaurant when the hotel is completed.
GARDEN COURT RENOVATES ... The Garden Court Hotel at 520 Cowper St. in Palo Alto recently completed a $9 million renovation. Its 62 guest rooms were redesigned by Spanish designer Pablo Paniagua. The hotel has long been known for opening its meeting rooms and hall to community-based organizations, under the leadership of General Manager Barbara Gross. "Nonprofits are the foundation of the community," she said. The boutique hotel was built in 1986 and bought in 2006 by the Spanish firm Vincci Hoteles.
CUPCAKES AND STATIONERY ... This unusual pairing arrives at Paperwhirl next month. The whimsical three-year-old shop at 230 University Ave. — which had been at Stanford Shopping Center for 27 years — is adding fresh cupcakes to its inventory. Owner Chris Chang said she decided to jump on the cupcake bandwagon because she thought it would be "a good synergy." She added, "With the economy being the way it is, anything that can help bring in more foot traffic is good." This is the first retail outlet for Bebecakes, which up until now has done only custom orders for weddings, parties and corporate events. "I'm very excited to come to downtown Palo Alto," said Johanna Machado, a former fashion designer who is the creator and baker of Bebecakes. A Woodside resident, she credits her grandfather, a New York baker, with introducing her to the world of baked goods. "Even though there are a couple other cupcake stores in the area, I believe I can add something. I'm someone who's local. And I'm big on customer service," she said. Machado offers 14 varieties of cupcakes, including the VaVa Voom, an intense chocolate cake with cream cheese and chocolate-chip filling. "It's definitely not low-calorie," she said.