Palo Alto Weekly

Eating Out - October 8, 2010

Shop Talk

by Daryl Savage

MIDTOWN GOES MODERN ... Midtown is on the cusp of getting what some might consider an architectural gem, and it's going into the unlikely location of the former Arco Gas Station at 3995 Middlefield Road. "It's a fresh new look for Midtown. Lots of glass, rooftop terraces and a glass-enclosed atrium," said Ken Hayes, whose company, Hayes Group Architects, is the creative force behind the modern building. The structure is surrounded on three sides by the Winter Lodge property. "It's like a little island," Hayes said. The construction, which began three weeks ago, is expected be completed next March. The 7,000-square-foot, two-story building is zoned for first-floor retail, which means possibilities for a new tenant include a restaurant, a retail store or a service-oriented business, such as a bank. The second floor is zoned for commercial space. Plans for the building call for a public space in the front, featuring benches, tables and umbrellas.

WINE ON TAP ... The latest trend in wine has hit Palo Alto. It's wine on tap. Think beer on tap, but it's wine that gets poured out of spigots. St. Michael's Alley at 140 Homer Ave. is among the first Palo Alto restaurants to tap into the new fad, said Joey Picci, a bartender at St. Michael's. "It's more than just wine on tap," he said, pointing to a hand-carved, hand-stained, black-walnut dispenser, artfully designed by restaurant owner Mike Sabina. "Mike takes great pride in his bar. He made the wine dispenser out of the same black walnut that the rest of the bar is made from," Picci said. The restaurant goes through a keg every two weeks and each keg holds the equivalent of 63 bottles, said Picci, who listed his favorite aspects of wine on tap. "It's faster. I can pour four glasses out of the tap faster than I can pour one glass from a bottle of wine. All I do is pull a little lever." And it significantly reduces the amount of waste and overhead. "We save by not having bottles or corks or labels. And since we run our kegs through nitrogen, the wine is always fresh." he said. "It's the future."

JUNGLE ON THE MOVE ... Jungle Digital, a Palo Alto mainstay for nearly 25 years at 542 High St., scaled down this summer and moved to 530 Emerson St., next to Mac's Smoke Shop. "It's about half the space; some of the services have changed; but we're still the same company," said Adam Mason, who co-owns Jungle with Dang Le. "We weren't utilizing a lot of the old space and there is a recession, so it just made sense to move. It also feels better to be right in the middle of downtown instead of on the outskirts." Mason said, adding that Jungle is now the only print shop downtown. Jungle has had a wild history. It started in 1986 as Zebra Copy, when black-and-white printing was the norm. "We changed the name from Zebra to Jungle when we added color printing," Mason said. Since then, Jungle has been an eclectic entity. In its heyday, it had a staffed coffee bar that served lattes to customers; there were on-the-job rollerblading employees; and it was open at night for area artists and musicians to perform. "Unfortunately, that's one of the casualties of moving to a smaller space. Now we just want to get down to business," Mason said.

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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