MACARONS MARCH IN ... When an unusual store opens in downtown Palo Alto amidst the yogurt shops, nail salons and trendy restaurants, it gets noticed. Chantal Guillon, dedicated to selling macarons, is the avenue's latest newcomer. Located in the former Story Boutique at 444 University Ave., it is part of the 100-year-old building that used to house Borders. These are not the American coconut macaroons sold in tin cans at the corner grocer. Macarons are brilliantly colored and perfectly round. As shop owner Chantal Guillon, a native Parisian, said in her thick French accent, "First you eat with your eyes." Guillon calls the macaron the traditional French cookie. "We make each macaron by hand. It is actually quite difficult to make," she said. The Palo Alto store, which opened Aug. 4, is Guillon's second. She opened the first macaron shop in 2009 in San Francisco. "We make 6,000 macarons a day," Guillon said. Her small shop includes a glass showcase that elegantly features the colorful macaron in deep inserts. The 1,360-square-foot-interior is stark white. "We wanted to keep it simple and clean, make it a blank canvas so that the macarons would be the highlight. It's like a moving piece of artwork," she said. The 60 flavors include Persian rose, lavender poppy and Tahitian vanilla. The decision to open a store in Palo Alto was a simple one for Guillon, who spent 20 years as an interior designer in Paris. "When I saw Palo Alto, I fell in love. ... When I walked in, I had a feeling about this place. I knew this was it. I said, 'I want it!'"
TAKING THE LID OFF ASIAN BOX ... Frank Klein knows what he wants. A Palo Alto resident and 20-year veteran of the restaurant industry, he and his business partner/chef Chad Newton had a detailed plan when they opened Asian Box in Town & Country Village in March. "We knew we had something special, but we're surprised just how busy we are," Klein said. In fact, the restaurant is now on track to becoming a brand, with a second Asian Box opening Oct. 1 in the former site of The Kitchen Table, a kosher restaurant in Mountain View at 142 Castro St. A third Asian Box is scheduled to open in Burlingame later this year. "This was our game plan all along; to open a total of five Asian Boxes. We have two more in the works that we'll be opening in 2013, but they are out of the Bay Area," Klein said. He also has plans to open a new restaurant in Palo Alto in the former location of Rangoon, 565 Bryant St.
CAFFEINE OVERLOAD ... It's another Starbucks for Palo Alto. Number eight, to be exact. Starbucks will open at Alma Village (formerly Alma Plaza) in the 3400 block of Alma Street. The new Starbucks comes on the heels of Palo Alto's first drive-through Starbucks at 3885 El Camino Real, which opened in June. The cafe, along with Miki's Farm Fresh Market, is scheduled for an early October opening. Also, eight of the about 50 homes at Alma Village had a grand opening last weekend. Due to popular demand, a silent auction was held for the homes, according to builder D.R. Horton's website.
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