NOLA GETS ALLIGATOR ... The Nola restaurant at 535 Ramona St. in Palo Alto just completed the biggest renovation in its 14-year history. "Not only was it the biggest, it was the fastest," general manager Shiraz Qadri said. The popular New Orleans-style restaurant reopened Nov. 26 after a six-week shutdown. "We didn't tell anyone we were opening last week. It was very quiet. We wanted it that way," Qadri said. Some of the changes in the remodeled three-story historic building include transforming one of the dining rooms into a lounge with several large plasma TVs, and ripping out the courtyard and replacing it with a fountain and historic tile. There is also a new bar and a new kitchen. Another change is the addition of alligator on the menu. "We're offering alligator dumplings. That's brand new," Qadri said. Six alligator dumplings go for $8. "There's been a lot of interest."
THREE NEW STORES ... Two Palo Alto moms, Cathy Keyani and Lisa Fulker, have combined their talents and opened Acme Party Shop at the Town & Country Village shopping center in Palo Alto. The lively shop offers favors, creative ideas and party gifts that are billed as environmentally sound. Another store that recently opened at T&C is CoCo-luxe Confections, which sells locally made chocolates, truffles and caramels. "I think of it (chocolate) as comfort food in a high-end form," said chocolatier Stephanie Marcon, who owns another confections shop in San Francisco. T&C is also the new home of Trunk Show Couture, a consignment fashion boutique that sells vintage and used clothing, shoes and handbags. Word is that top-name designer labels can be had for a song.
LET'S CALL IT A DAY ... A few recent goners in Palo Alto: Jennifer Convertibles, the stylish sofa store at 383 University Ave., is dark. So is Dan Brown's Sports Bar at 4141 El Camino Real, which closed after a six-year run. It had a farewell blast last weekend and served its final beer on Nov. 29. Also gone is View From the Terrace, the cutesy home decor shop at 440 Kipling St. It has been transformed into Be Yoga, an exercise studio that offers classes and workshops.