Palo Alto Weekly

Eating Out - April 20, 2012

Shop Talk

ASIAN STREET FOOD ON CAL AVE ... Will Pacio was an unlikely candidate for a chef. He had just graduated from Stanford with a pre-med degree, but wanted to try cooking. "I knocked on the back door of The Left Bank in Menlo Park and asked if I could work there for free. They said yes. So I did six months of shucking oysters, slicing onions and plating desserts," Pacio said. He was hooked. Pacio enrolled in culinary school, worked at several restaurants, and nearly two years ago opened Spice Kit in San Francisco. The success of the Asian street-food eatery led Pacio back to Palo Alto. His second Spice Kit restaurant is set to open at 340 S. California Ave. in early June in the former site of Culture Organic Frozen Yogurt. "I love Palo Alto. I have a lot of history here and I'm glad to be back," he said. The 25-seat restaurant, which will specialize in organic, locally grown produce, will offer hand-held street-food items. "We want to introduce people to more traditional Asian tastes, and we've looked for foods that translate well into American flavors," Pacio said. The restaurant will be open daily for lunch and dinner and will also serve Asian beer. Spice Kit is the second eatery in Palo Alto to offer Asian street food. Asian Box, which opened earlier this year in Town & Country Village, focuses on flavor and fresh, gluten-free ingredients with fast execution. Inspired by street stalls throughout Asia, CEO Frank Klein said, "I love Asian cuisine but have always found it challenging to find places offering fresh and authentic menus, especially in the fast-casual sector."

STARBUCKS TO OPEN DRIVE-THRU... It's a first for Palo Alto: a drive-through Starbucks. The coffee company is poised to open its seventh outpost in the city in the former location of Jack-in-the-Box at 3885 El Camino Real. Scheduled to be completed this summer, the store will use the existing space that was previously devoted to Jumbo Jacks and curly fries. "We look forward to opening this location ... and anticipate it will add approximately 20 new jobs to the community," a Starbucks spokesperson said. Of the six other stores in Palo Alto, one is located three blocks south at 4131 El Camino Real. An employee at that location said, "We were told there wouldn't be any competition between the two stores because the new one is a drive-through and will attract a different kind of customer that comes in here," she said.

NEW APP FOR SHORTER LINES ... For those not wanting to wait for the new drive-through — and not wanting to wait at all for coffee — there's a new app. Now in use at the wildly successful Philz Coffee, it eliminates standing in lines that sometimes snake out the door. Company CEO Jacob Jaber had been looking to cut down on wait times, and the app allows customers to place their orders before they arrive at Philz. Users of Tapviva enter their coffee order on their phone, and that order transmits to a screen at Philz. "So our baristas don't have to answer the phone and people don't have to wait in line. When we fill the order, we put it on the table, we write the customer's name on the cup, they come in and pick it up. That's it. It's meant for people in a hurry," Jaber said. Tapviva is available at the downtown Palo Alto Philz, 101 Forest Ave. Jaber hopes it will soon be accessible at the midtown location at 3191 Middlefield Road.

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. Email shoptalk@paweekly.com.

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