Palo Alto Weekly

Eating Out - May 14, 2010

Shop Talk

by Daryl Savage

EARLY DINNERS ON THE CHEAP ... Responding to tough times, several Palo Alto restaurants are offering food at deep discounts off the menu prices. Round Table Pizza cuts pizza prices in half on Tuesdays at all three of its Palo Alto locations. Reposado, at 236 Hamilton Ave., has more than a dozen menu items marked half-off during its happy hour from 4 to 6 p.m. on weekdays. Most beers are also half off during that time. The lounge menu at Pampas at 529 Alma St. offers Brazilian appetizers at half-price between 5 and 7 p.m. And the Fish Market Restaurant at 3150 El Camino Real has a discounted happy-hour menu on weekdays beginning at 3:30 p.m. The big feature is the 95-cent oysters, according to one restaurant employee. "I've seen people order 18 oysters at a time. They shuck them right in front of you in the bar. It's a big draw," she said.

PALO ALTO LOSES ANOTHER RESTAURANT ... This time, it's Robaii Falafel, the cozy family-run restaurant at 496 Hamilton Ave. Known for its $5 baba ghanoush, it would have celebrated its 12th anniversary this month if it hadn't decided to throw in the towel last month. "We closed it. There were many issues," Robaii owner Dar Nafar said. "It was a combination of the landlord, boredom and downtown depression," he said. Robaii, which offered inexpensive Persian cuisine at Hamilton Avenue and Cowper Street, is seeking another location. Meanwhile, a new restaurant is preparing to move in and change the cuisine from Persian to Thai. Expected to open in the fall, it will be called Siam Orchid, and should not be confused with either Siam Royal or Krung Siam, two nearby restaurants on University Avenue.

NUMBER THREE FOR COUPA ... Coupa Cafe, the Venezuelan coffee shop at 538 Ramona St. in Palo Alto, opened another outlet last month; this is its second at Stanford University and its third in the Palo Alto area. The new cafe doles out coffee in a small kiosk outside the Green and Meyer libraries on the Stanford campus. Coupa's other Stanford location, which opened in October 2008, is in the Jerry Yang and Akiko Yamazaki Environment and Energy Building (aka Y2E2 Building). The first Coupa, which started in downtown Palo Alto in 2004 and also serves an eclectic array of food, continues to be a popular venue for the wi-fi, coffee-drinking crowd.

TOO MANY DOWNTOWN VACANCIES? ... Meanwhile, Coupa Cafe founder and co-owner Jean Paul Coupal returned to Palo Alto in early May after 14 months in his country-of-residence Venezuela and was shocked by the two dozen or so vacancies on University Avenue — and, he said, by how some landlords treat tenants. Triggered by a sudden 30-day lease-termination of a neighboring women's clothing store on Ramona Street, Coupal voiced anger at the "unjust treatment" of short-notice tenants, and about the fashionable clothing shop's being replaced by a store selling tennis shoes. "In Venezuela we have to deal with a dictatorship. In Palo Alto we have to deal with unjust landlords," he said. He added that he wants other businesses and business organizations to protest such violations of "social responsibility," he said. "Everyone is just appalled" among those he's spoken with about the matter, he added.

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.

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