Arts

What will it take for local restaurants to recover? Famed Peninsula brewer Dan Gordon sounds the alarm after closing in Palo Alto

'The coronavirus may have just accelerated the economic issues .. for small businesses downtown.'

Dan Gordon permanently closed his eponymous restaurant in Palo Alto after the coronavirus shutdown "accelerated" economic pressures already impacting the restaurant.

Gordon and Dean Biersch opened the original Gordon Biersch brewery and restaurant on Emerson Street in 1988. They sold the business years ago, but Gordon returned to Palo Alto to open Dan Gordon's in 2016 with Steve Sincheck, owner of the Old Pro and Local Union 271 in downtown Palo Alto (and Gordon Biersch's first-ever bar manager).

Gordon announced the restaurant's closure at a remote Palo Alto City Council meeting on Monday evening, urging the elected officials to do their part to help small businesses recover from the disruption of business during the Bay Area shelter-in-place order.

"If you want us to have open storefronts in the next nine months, you're really going to have to start being proactive and working on brainstorming what you can do for the business community locally to give them an incentive to want to reopen and hire people," Gordon said. "It's really a tragic scenario."

In an interview shortly after the meeting, Gordon spoke bluntly about the ripple effects the coronavirus will continue to have on local restaurants and what it will take to help them survive.

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This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.

-----

Why did you decide to permanently close Dan Gordon's?

Dan Gordon's is done, and I don't think you're going to find anybody willing to reopen any restaurant in Palo Alto for a long time.

Nobody knows when (social) distancing is going to be removed and even then, psychologically, unless there's an antibody test and a vaccine, nobody's going to go out in masses. All the reserves are depleted. I don't think anybody in Palo Alto city government cares, honestly. When I listened into the City Council meeting, I didn't hear a single word about how to revive the downtown or when it would open up again. Their priorities seem to be so misguided.

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When Santa Clara County made the announcement that there can't be any large gatherings ... every large restaurant in Palo Alto — there aren't a lot of them but Dan Gordon's is one of them — you're not going to run with spacing that requires only 25% occupancy. When you combine extraordinarily high labor costs compared to any other city, it's a no-win situation — and you throw in high rents.

When you start combining every element, why would you want to reopen when you can declare bankruptcy and go somewhere else? 

Even if they do open up, the question is: Will any small business operator want to open up and want to put themselves at really serious potential financial risk? You have to come up with a lot of money to open. It's not as expensive as the first time around but about 75% of what it was.

How did takeout go at Dan Gordon's?

We tried it for a week and then gave up. We were doing a couple hundred dollars. It didn't even cover the cost of one cook, let alone inventory. The only blessing was it was a way to not have to write off a lot of the inventory. The remainder of inventory was given away to the staff to clear out everything.

The worst thing ever was when you had to say goodbye to dozens of employees.

DoorDash, UberEats — they're great companies. Right now they're (reducing or) not charging any fees to restaurants. But you can't make it off that. It just doesn't cut it.

Did you sell the business?

There's no one that wants to buy a business right now. There's nobody that's insane enough to buy a restaurant in Palo Alto. Even before COVID, more places were closing than opening.

The forecast right now is anywhere from 20% to 30% of restaurants will not reopen in Palo Alto. Out of 16 people (restaurant owners) in my circulation list, I'm aware of five that aren't going to reopen in Palo Alto.

Did you apply for a small business loan through the federal Paycheck Protection Program(PPP)?

Here's the problem with PPP: You have to (hire back) 75% of the staff and 75% of payroll (by June 30) to have it forgiven, otherwise it's a loan. The labor costs for restarting, no matter what — there's not going to be 75% of 2019's average sales. Once again you're in a losing scenario where you're not going to be able to qualify, and nobody wants to go into further debt. You're already going to have to go into debt to open the place and you're going to have operating losses. What good is PPP for a restaurant unless there's a deferral on it where you could possibly wait six or seven months and then reopen when you know there are enough people feeling comfortable about going out into a crowded bar or restaurant? That's the big what if: When are people going to return to any sense of normalcy? I don't think it's going to happen by June 30.

With the threat of Stanford University possibly not reopening for the fall and no sports, the devastation of downtown Palo Alto is tremendous. I don't think that many people understand the financial impact of Stanford on the Palo Alto community. It's a huge engine. Not only people coming to town, (but also) visiting university teams — they go out, they spend money downtown.

How are you feeling personally about closing down after so many years in the restaurant industry?

I'm very, very fortunate that this was a labor of love and it wasn't my livelihood. The production brewery is where I earn my living. But for all my colleagues and friends that this is all they have, the restaurants in Palo Alto … this is tragic. This is all they have. I'm super concerned. How are they even going to survive these 30 days?

Are you worried that chains will bounce back more quickly than local mom-and-pop restaurants?

Cheesecake Factory bailed on leases and rent. It's not paying rent at any locations this year. Palo Alto is not a chain town. It's mostly independent operators. Chains will take this as an opportunity to thin out their weaker performing locations or unprofitable locations. They're much more brutal and ruthless than an independent operator. The restaurant group I founded, Gordon Biersch restaurants, they're only keeping their profitable locations.

What do you think the local dining scene will look like in three, six months?

There are a lot of 'what ifs.' It's going to require a lot of things to happen. Landlords are going to have to be very patient and partner with restaurants to get them up and going. I think the city needs to fully consider the ridiculous minimum wage levels and give breathing room for at least a few years to reflect the state minimum wage ... Most of these great restaurants people want to go to haven't been making money and now they don't see how they're possibly going to make money over the next nine months. You're talking about investing in a reopening and covering operating losses for an indeterminate amount of time — at a minimum six months, but probably nine months.

No prudent, seasoned restaurant operator or owner is going to reopen unless they're really sure that the city is going to pop back. I haven't heard the city talk about anything solutions-wise about how to get business up and running. That's their civic duty. 

What's next for you?

I'm not going to do any more restaurants. The only reason I was involved with Steve Sincheck on Dan Gordon's was because it was the original Gordon Biersch. My major role right now in the restaurant biz is trying to come up with and help my friends figure out strategies (for) how to survive. That's the only reason I called in (to the City Council meeting) tonight.

I have no skin in the game. I have no financial stake. That's already gone. But I'll do whatever it takes to make sure my restaurant friends and colleagues don't suffer. And they're all scared beyond belief because there is no bailout scenario that currently works.

The way Palo Alto is trending as a whole — the coronavirus may have just accelerated the economic issues of Palo Alto for small businesses downtown. But hopefully it will bounce back. It's just a question of when and without knowing when, it's going to be very difficult to justify any investment in the city.

Find comprehensive coverage on the Midpeninsula's response to the new coronavirus by Palo Alto Online, the Mountain View Voice and the Almanac here.

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What will it take for local restaurants to recover? Famed Peninsula brewer Dan Gordon sounds the alarm after closing in Palo Alto

'The coronavirus may have just accelerated the economic issues .. for small businesses downtown.'

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Wed, Apr 15, 2020, 9:28 am

Dan Gordon permanently closed his eponymous restaurant in Palo Alto after the coronavirus shutdown "accelerated" economic pressures already impacting the restaurant.

Gordon and Dean Biersch opened the original Gordon Biersch brewery and restaurant on Emerson Street in 1988. They sold the business years ago, but Gordon returned to Palo Alto to open Dan Gordon's in 2016 with Steve Sincheck, owner of the Old Pro and Local Union 271 in downtown Palo Alto (and Gordon Biersch's first-ever bar manager).

Gordon announced the restaurant's closure at a remote Palo Alto City Council meeting on Monday evening, urging the elected officials to do their part to help small businesses recover from the disruption of business during the Bay Area shelter-in-place order.

"If you want us to have open storefronts in the next nine months, you're really going to have to start being proactive and working on brainstorming what you can do for the business community locally to give them an incentive to want to reopen and hire people," Gordon said. "It's really a tragic scenario."

In an interview shortly after the meeting, Gordon spoke bluntly about the ripple effects the coronavirus will continue to have on local restaurants and what it will take to help them survive.

This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.

-----

Why did you decide to permanently close Dan Gordon's?

Dan Gordon's is done, and I don't think you're going to find anybody willing to reopen any restaurant in Palo Alto for a long time.

Nobody knows when (social) distancing is going to be removed and even then, psychologically, unless there's an antibody test and a vaccine, nobody's going to go out in masses. All the reserves are depleted. I don't think anybody in Palo Alto city government cares, honestly. When I listened into the City Council meeting, I didn't hear a single word about how to revive the downtown or when it would open up again. Their priorities seem to be so misguided.

When Santa Clara County made the announcement that there can't be any large gatherings ... every large restaurant in Palo Alto — there aren't a lot of them but Dan Gordon's is one of them — you're not going to run with spacing that requires only 25% occupancy. When you combine extraordinarily high labor costs compared to any other city, it's a no-win situation — and you throw in high rents.

When you start combining every element, why would you want to reopen when you can declare bankruptcy and go somewhere else? 

Even if they do open up, the question is: Will any small business operator want to open up and want to put themselves at really serious potential financial risk? You have to come up with a lot of money to open. It's not as expensive as the first time around but about 75% of what it was.

How did takeout go at Dan Gordon's?

We tried it for a week and then gave up. We were doing a couple hundred dollars. It didn't even cover the cost of one cook, let alone inventory. The only blessing was it was a way to not have to write off a lot of the inventory. The remainder of inventory was given away to the staff to clear out everything.

The worst thing ever was when you had to say goodbye to dozens of employees.

DoorDash, UberEats — they're great companies. Right now they're (reducing or) not charging any fees to restaurants. But you can't make it off that. It just doesn't cut it.

Did you sell the business?

There's no one that wants to buy a business right now. There's nobody that's insane enough to buy a restaurant in Palo Alto. Even before COVID, more places were closing than opening.

The forecast right now is anywhere from 20% to 30% of restaurants will not reopen in Palo Alto. Out of 16 people (restaurant owners) in my circulation list, I'm aware of five that aren't going to reopen in Palo Alto.

Did you apply for a small business loan through the federal Paycheck Protection Program(PPP)?

Here's the problem with PPP: You have to (hire back) 75% of the staff and 75% of payroll (by June 30) to have it forgiven, otherwise it's a loan. The labor costs for restarting, no matter what — there's not going to be 75% of 2019's average sales. Once again you're in a losing scenario where you're not going to be able to qualify, and nobody wants to go into further debt. You're already going to have to go into debt to open the place and you're going to have operating losses. What good is PPP for a restaurant unless there's a deferral on it where you could possibly wait six or seven months and then reopen when you know there are enough people feeling comfortable about going out into a crowded bar or restaurant? That's the big what if: When are people going to return to any sense of normalcy? I don't think it's going to happen by June 30.

With the threat of Stanford University possibly not reopening for the fall and no sports, the devastation of downtown Palo Alto is tremendous. I don't think that many people understand the financial impact of Stanford on the Palo Alto community. It's a huge engine. Not only people coming to town, (but also) visiting university teams — they go out, they spend money downtown.

How are you feeling personally about closing down after so many years in the restaurant industry?

I'm very, very fortunate that this was a labor of love and it wasn't my livelihood. The production brewery is where I earn my living. But for all my colleagues and friends that this is all they have, the restaurants in Palo Alto … this is tragic. This is all they have. I'm super concerned. How are they even going to survive these 30 days?

Are you worried that chains will bounce back more quickly than local mom-and-pop restaurants?

Cheesecake Factory bailed on leases and rent. It's not paying rent at any locations this year. Palo Alto is not a chain town. It's mostly independent operators. Chains will take this as an opportunity to thin out their weaker performing locations or unprofitable locations. They're much more brutal and ruthless than an independent operator. The restaurant group I founded, Gordon Biersch restaurants, they're only keeping their profitable locations.

What do you think the local dining scene will look like in three, six months?

There are a lot of 'what ifs.' It's going to require a lot of things to happen. Landlords are going to have to be very patient and partner with restaurants to get them up and going. I think the city needs to fully consider the ridiculous minimum wage levels and give breathing room for at least a few years to reflect the state minimum wage ... Most of these great restaurants people want to go to haven't been making money and now they don't see how they're possibly going to make money over the next nine months. You're talking about investing in a reopening and covering operating losses for an indeterminate amount of time — at a minimum six months, but probably nine months.

No prudent, seasoned restaurant operator or owner is going to reopen unless they're really sure that the city is going to pop back. I haven't heard the city talk about anything solutions-wise about how to get business up and running. That's their civic duty. 

What's next for you?

I'm not going to do any more restaurants. The only reason I was involved with Steve Sincheck on Dan Gordon's was because it was the original Gordon Biersch. My major role right now in the restaurant biz is trying to come up with and help my friends figure out strategies (for) how to survive. That's the only reason I called in (to the City Council meeting) tonight.

I have no skin in the game. I have no financial stake. That's already gone. But I'll do whatever it takes to make sure my restaurant friends and colleagues don't suffer. And they're all scared beyond belief because there is no bailout scenario that currently works.

The way Palo Alto is trending as a whole — the coronavirus may have just accelerated the economic issues of Palo Alto for small businesses downtown. But hopefully it will bounce back. It's just a question of when and without knowing when, it's going to be very difficult to justify any investment in the city.

Find comprehensive coverage on the Midpeninsula's response to the new coronavirus by Palo Alto Online, the Mountain View Voice and the Almanac here.

Comments

dontliveinCA
another community
on Apr 15, 2020 at 11:19 am
dontliveinCA, another community
on Apr 15, 2020 at 11:19 am
10 people like this

This comment seems a little harsh...."I don't think anybody in Palo Alto city government cares, honestly." I doubt he is the only person who cares.


Green Gables
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 15, 2020 at 12:26 pm
Green Gables, Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 15, 2020 at 12:26 pm
6 people like this

I think Dan Gordon is correct. Why would the City of Palo Alto care? No skin off their nose.


Independent
Esther Clark Park
on Apr 15, 2020 at 12:53 pm
Independent, Esther Clark Park
on Apr 15, 2020 at 12:53 pm
11 people like this

Wake up City of Palo Alto Council members, which just chose to give away local taxpayers' money rather than furlough workers and share in the enhanced federal unemployment insurance benefits initiative. Wake up. It is time to be fiscally prudent. It is time to serve your residents, not just your unionized employees. It is time to cut back. It is time to support your local businesses, rather than your unionized public employees.


Resident
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 15, 2020 at 1:14 pm
Resident, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 15, 2020 at 1:14 pm
4 people like this

One idea I have seen is for restaurants to produce meal kits of their popular dishes, all the necessary ingredients and a recipe/instructions so that people can make them at home. People could buy them during the day while out on a necessities run and then make them at home when they are ready to eat. This will reduce the number of outings and enable the food to be eaten when they are ready to eat and the food is hot.

Many places are out of ingredients such as flour, rice, etc. but the food chain for restaurant supply and commercial kitchens is better than grocery distribution at times so for restaurants to be able to sell raw food with instruction as a means for tapping into the commercial food chain.


Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 15, 2020 at 1:28 pm
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 15, 2020 at 1:28 pm
15 people like this

Honestly, unless there is some way to artificially lower the effective rent for small businesses in downtown Palo Alto, they are just going to get priced out. It has turned into an office park. I don't like it, and, I don't think Dan Gordon is correct that "no one" cares, but, clearly PACC majority doesn't care. For some reason, they just can't seem to get over their love affair with office space.


JimH
Community Center
on Apr 15, 2020 at 2:09 pm
JimH, Community Center
on Apr 15, 2020 at 2:09 pm
1 person likes this

Resident: Take out food kits is a small business and couldn't possibly support local restaurants paying high leases. In any event I want to eat at local restaurants. Not take home a kit and cook and eat it in my house.


Anonymous
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 15, 2020 at 7:09 pm
Anonymous, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 15, 2020 at 7:09 pm
36 people like this

As a *former* member of the staff of DG, I think it’s relevant to ask- Why is Dan Gordon giving interviews and speaking at town meetings about the fate of his restaurant and lack of caring when the staff were never informed that the restaurant is closed permanently? The first we all heard of it was through Dan Gordon’s speech two days ago. No messages from management, no personal speech for us from the head guys. If you want compassion for the business owners’, start by being respectful to the people who worked hard for you and now have no income.


rent
Downtown North
on Apr 16, 2020 at 12:27 am
rent, Downtown North
on Apr 16, 2020 at 12:27 am
1 person likes this

Maybe there needs to be a rent holiday for small businesses in downtown Palo Alto too.


R. E. Marks
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 16, 2020 at 1:41 am
R. E. Marks, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 16, 2020 at 1:41 am
6 people like this

Maybe Palo Alto should never have let its retail space become dominated by a fragile restaurant mono-culture?

Restaurants are discretionary spending and always the first to go in any downturn.


cheese guy
Palo Verde
on Apr 16, 2020 at 7:21 am
cheese guy, Palo Verde
on Apr 16, 2020 at 7:21 am
16 people like this

So, this follow-up interview certainly seems like an attempt by the Weekly to patch up Mr. Gordon's reputation after the pretty damning article (see link above) yesterday in which the blame for closing was leveled on the fact that Palo Alto required employees be paid a living wage (if one considers under $20 an hour a living wage in PA, which it isn't). Sorry to see any business closed, but this seemingly needless "interview" sure has the feel of a bit of a patch up after the prior article. A the best to "Anonymous" above, sorry to hear about how this all came down.


Larry Chau
another community
on Apr 16, 2020 at 8:49 am
Larry Chau, another community
on Apr 16, 2020 at 8:49 am
6 people like this

Mr. Gordon raised some very valid & pertinent facts. Fiscal recovery in the restaurant & hospitality sectors will be very slow as well as subject to new serving & seating guidelines due to the repercussions of COVID-19.

I currently own two Hunan-style restaurants in the SF bay area but fortunately my family owns the property where they are situated. Nevertheless, I am planning to close both dining establishments & eventually lease the buildings to renters of 'essential businesses' in the near future. BTW, medical marijuana outlets are considered 'essential' providing one has an Rx (and those are easy for recreational users to procure...just claim you get an occasional upset stomach or have menstrual cramps).

Why bother serving high-quality Chinese food when there are so many other good Chinese restaurants on the peninsula? While Chinese take-out is an American dining tradition of its own, delivery is a hassle nowadays & business is down due to certain xenophobic mentalities & resentments.

I foresee a closure of many smaller restaurants & a proliferation of chain-corporate types that can survive this current economic ordeal...think Chili's, Chevy's, Red Lobster, Papa John's, McDonald's etc.

Expect further mediocrity of the dining experience in the future. There will be fewer 'starred' restaurants (i.e. Greystone, French Laundry et al) and in some ways this is good because they cater to privileged, oftentimes namedropping pseudo gastronomists (aka phonies) and corporate spenders with business entertainment accounts.

Local restaurant prices (based on snob appeal) are too high as well. Only an idiot spends $18.00 for a spinach salad or $15.00 for a piece of carrot cake.

Time to get real. Let's eventually turn downtown Palo Alto & Mountain View back into traditional shopping environments with fewer fly-by-night dining establishments.
The Facebook, Google, Apple employees can learn to cook on their own.

Add some more bars as well (and drop the prices of drinks as there is a high mark-up on booze). Some Amsterdam-style marijuana coffee-houses would also be a nice downtown addition as well.

The coronavirus scenario will turn water into wine for some savvy investors & speculators. Rather than being a victim, become the next big wheel!


Maven
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 16, 2020 at 9:03 am
Maven, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 16, 2020 at 9:03 am
11 people like this

Another problem here is that downtown customers come from a pool of workers who don’t live here. That was always a problem with many downsides. For example in an earthquake or other major disaster, there was never any attention paid to what Palo Alto would do to protect the population with so many more people here during the day. Our emergency manager is quoted as saying the density would result in loss of life already.

For restaurants, this means that their regular clientele are sheltering in place somewhere else. When we got takeout at Veggie Grill, it was pretty busy. But, we are familiar with veggie grill, and thought of them when it came time to get takeout. To be honest, if there were some kind of central place to look at an updated take out landscaping locally and that includes across city lines, could order, and it was a little more clear what was available, under what conditions we could get takeout, etc., then we would probably have gotten more takeout. Although, our families contribution wouldn’t be that much, since we can’t afford to go out very much anymore.

This is part of the wages of allowing downtown to become an office park. The connection to Palo Alto residents who would be there when The Goodweather companies moved on (as they can more easily) is never developed.

The very best businesses for locals in Palo Alto, that survived other economic upturns and downturns, they’ve gotten pushed out by the very same forces that have made downtown so unfriendly for local residents.

I have said this all along, and I still think it’s the best thing for Palo Alto and Silicon Valley in the long term. The states should help cities to buy up the downtown areas in very expensive places. By help, I don’t mean it has to be free, I just mean long-term debt, etc. The city could be a landlord for a while, but really they just need to own the land underneath the buildings. They could do long-term leases the way Stanford does to keep its properties below market rate. And they could reduce the rent to businesses in exchange for the businesses paying their workers better wages. As time passes, this ability will become more and more valuable to the city, without costing the city anything, so businesses could pay workers a real living wage while still saving money and better weather economic downturns. The city could also leverage businesses that residents need, not just a monoculture to serve denizens of an densely packed office park that isn’t technically within code anyway.

The main advantage, of course, would be that the city could also ensure that the businesses serve residents, too, and not just companies that pack in their workers too closely, have corporate cafeterias instead of patronizing the local restaurants, even poach the workers so places like prolific oven have to close,and have no connection to the community in a crisis. Where are the tech wizards to instantly create tech solutions to make the farmers markets, Costco’s and restaurants easier to access so residents don’t have shortages and can reserve times to go in person? The utter absence of volunteer civic engagement by that sector right now, is really sad and disappointing.

As was always going to be the case, the residents were going to have to pick up the pieces. I want businesses to survive here, too, but not just to survive the pandemic but also to thrive afterwards. We have the wrong leadership at the helm locally for the time. The mayor and his allies are mostly concerned with hurting local residents to convert this place to an office park and dense dormitory for tech whales. This story should be a caveat to businesses who either didn’t care or didn’t see the downside to that.



Ross Mayfield
Community Center
on Apr 16, 2020 at 9:11 am
Ross Mayfield, Community Center
on Apr 16, 2020 at 9:11 am
5 people like this

We have to come together as a community to help save our restaurants and their jobs. I’m a Palo Alto native and lead of FrontlineFoods.org Silicon Valley chapter. An all volunteer organization, 100% of donations go directly to restaurants that provide meals to frontline health care workers.

We are working with restaurants here like Bevri, Pizzeria Delfina, Tamarine, Tootsie’s, Zareen’s. Providing meals to Stanford and 7 other hospitals.

I wish we had gotten to help Dan. The program is just now scaling up. We’ve had a direct impact on operations and hiring back, when many had to let go of 90% of their staff.


Mike
University South
on Apr 16, 2020 at 11:37 am
Mike, University South
on Apr 16, 2020 at 11:37 am
4 people like this

I've been told repeatedly by Suze, Dave, and Paula to have an emergency fund in case there is an emergency. They recommend 3 months to 12 months expenses. So Dan, why are you blaming others with your hand out?


Diner
another community
on Apr 16, 2020 at 11:38 am
Diner, another community
on Apr 16, 2020 at 11:38 am
7 people like this

As stated in the article "after the coronavirus shutdown "accelerated" economic pressures already impacting the restaurant." I can only assume that those other pressures were lack of business. I frequented Gordon Biersch when it was open and I tried Dan Gordon's a couple times and was dissapointed in the food, it did not live up to expectations, so I stopped going. I know others who felt the same way. So you can blame it on COVID-19 but if you are not making customers want to return you are not going to last very long.

As for alternate ideas like preparing meal kits, it is not meant as a long term solutions. Between take out, delivery, meal kits and possibly selling items like high quality produce and meats that they get from their suppliers they can hang on until the situation gets better. I would also think that many restuarants are in a good place to negotiate short term breaks on rent with the landlords since the option for the landlord is get some rent or have the resturant go out of business and get zero rent (no one will be lining up to open a new resturant for the foreseeable future).


Anon
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 16, 2020 at 1:03 pm
Anon, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 16, 2020 at 1:03 pm
1 person likes this

Posted by Diner, a resident of another community

>> "accelerated" economic pressures [...] I can only assume that those other pressures were lack of business. I frequented Gordon Biersch when it was open and I tried Dan Gordon's a couple times and was dissapointed in the food, it did not live up to expectations, so I stopped going.

I only went to GB once back in the day, and, it was way too noisy for me. But, apparently a huge number of people did not agree with me. "Gordon Biersch? Nobody goes there anymore, it's too crowded." But, the larger question is whether there is anything that can or should be done to maintain and encourage small, independently-operated businesses in Palo Alto, and, reduce the number of commuting-dependent office jobs?


Dick D.
Crescent Park
on Apr 16, 2020 at 9:03 pm
Dick D., Crescent Park
on Apr 16, 2020 at 9:03 pm
Like this comment

I agree with a number of comments about rent being a killer all by itself plus the notion of the city getting into the real estate business until or unless landlords can get real. The few that survive now are the rare birds who own their place.

The cost of labor is a sore point if one accepts that those workers have to feed their kids and hardly scape by as it is with the local minimum wage. What ever body seems to ignore is that "elsewhere" labor costs aren't going to be much different since the state and most places aren't a lot different. To add to those other places the prices are going to lower too. Who in Grass Valley is going to pay for what here is a piece of carrot cake for $15? Or $250 for a tasting menu, sans wine?

I continue to think the best thing we can do is get some business acumen into the act and have the ambitious great cooks see what the thier restaurant plans financials are before jumping in. These days, not right right now but over a longer period, one out of ten restaurants don't make it past their first year - they never looked at what income & expenses were likely to be before things come crashing down. Right now those terrible crashes ae going sadly happen to many.

The city can help as a landlord AND with help in far better, more reasonable planning.

Just sayin'


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