SAN JOSE'S LOSS, PALO ALTO'S GAIN ... Ramona Street just got a bit hipper. Premier Boutique, San Jose's trendy little shoe and clothing store, will open this month at 534 Ramona St. in downtown Palo Alto. The three-year-old boutique closed its doors on Winchester Boulevard with a bang last week. Some bargain-hunting customers showing up for an early-November moving sale had to wait in line for more than two hours to enter the store. "This is a good move for us," said Aaron Biner, a Bay Area native who co-owns Premier. "We're hoping to widen our market appeal by moving to Palo Alto," he said. He describes his merchandise as targeting the 12- to 40-year-old consumer. "We want to be the premier spot where people go to buy their sneakers around here," Biner said.
SIMPLE PIZZA, SIMPLE INGREDIENTS ... A different kind of pizza parlor is the newest tenant at Town & Country Village in Palo Alto. Howie's Artisan Pizza is scheduled to open Nov. 19 on the El Camino Real side of the center, next to Sur La Table. Howie's owner, Howard Bulka, comes with a lengthy set of credentials. He was the chef and proprietor of Menlo Park's Marche until 2008, when he left to devote his attention to the development of Howie's Artisan Pizza. Bulka does not take his pizza lightly. He has been on a quest to create "the perfect pizza," and calls himself an artisan pizza maker. "Our product is a well-crafted pizza and we take each component of it quite seriously," he said. "We make our own ricotta, we make our own pancetta and we use really good products. Our menu is simple and our pizza is simple," he said. Bulka's idea for creating a pizza parlor was based on the notion that pizza is the third most popular American food. And the first two, according to Bulka? Hamburgers, then French fries. Or is that just one "burger-&-fries" food?
WALGREENS ON TRACK ... Construction is still on track for the brand new Walgreens at 310 University Ave. in downtown Palo Alto. Completion of the contemporary steel and glass, decidedly non-traditional-looking Walgreens is expected by the end of the year. Office space will occupy the second and third floors of the three-story building. The original Walgreens was gutted after a July 2007 fire, later discovered to be arson. It completely destroyed the historic building on the corner of University and Bryant Street. The ensuing, massive reconstruction project proved to be a one-two punch for some nearby merchants. Trucks, machinery and noise all discouraged foot and car traffic in the area. The construction combined with the faltering economy was too much for some: Today, at least a half dozen of the Bryant Street retailers in the 500 block are gone.
GAMESTOP BEGETTING ... It was just a matter of time before GameStop would find Palo Alto. Scheduled to move into the former Golden Loom and the former, former Men's Wearhouse at 370 University Ave., GameStop has a few locations nearby — one in Mountain View's San Antonio Center and two in Redwood City, at Sequoia Station and Woodside Central. There is also a GameStop in Sunnyvale at Cherry Orchard. The gaming store bills itself as the world's largest video-game retailer, with more than 6,100 stores in the United States and 17 other countries. GameStop began in 1984 as Babbage's, a Dallas-based software retailer. Its Palo Alto store is part of GameSpot's business plan to open an additional 400 stores this year.
DIAMONDS OF PALO ALTO CLOSING ... After 21 years, Diamonds of Palo Alto at 261 Hamilton Ave., Suite 320, is slated to close in February. Owner Israel Zehavi said the closure was due to health issues. The store plans to hold a Nov. 19 sale with prices marked down up to 50 percent.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.