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Mixx shutters in Mountain View

Uploaded: Aug 17, 2015
Mixx, the casual fusion eatery that replaced longtime Castro Street restaurant Scott's Seafood last year, has closed, co-owner Billy Berkowitz confirmed Monday.

Berkowitz, who owns Max's World (of Max's Opera Cafe at the Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto and San Francisco, among others) partnered with Scott's Seafood Mountain View owner Steve Mayer last year to open Mixx. Scott's Seafood had operated at the 420 Castro St. space for 11 years.

Berkowitz and Mayer revamped the physical space and reinvented the menu, opening Mixx in September. The menu was wide-reaching, including American, Italian, Thai, soul food, Mediterranean, Chinese, Japanese and more. Mixx also served craft cocktails, with some spirits steeped in "infusion jars" and then aged for 21 days in oak barrels.

Besides a large dining room and bar, Mixx also offered a game room stocked with games, a shuffleboard table and TVs. Photo by Veronica Weber/Palo Alto Online.

"We put a lot of effort into it," Berkowitz wrote in an email Monday. "The bar and happy hour was busy from the get go. The restaurant was not busy enough and despite any efforts, we could not build the sales to make it worth staying there.

"At the end of the day, I guess no one liked it so why eat our heart out over the place," he wrote. "We're very disappointed as we thought that location had lots of potential."

Read our review of Mixx from March.

No word on who might lay claim to the prominent Castro Street location; stay tuned.

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Posted by Old Mountain Viewan, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on Aug 17, 2015 at 2:38 pm

Wow...I'm so sorry to see that place close. The restaurant was great and so was the food. I really think it was location, and it was over shadowed by the over rated Cascal's restaurant. That really is too bad.

Posted by Max Hauser, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on Aug 17, 2015 at 2:56 pm

Max Hauser is a registered user.

I'll post here the obervation I wanted to pass privately to the ownership for months. After about eight casual meals there, mostly at the bar counter.

People who know me would tell you I put in effort to try to understand restaurants rather than leaping to judge them. I return (multiple times) even after lackluster experiences, trying to look beyond any single random encounter, for a sense of the typical dining experience, kitchen strengths and weaknesses, rhythms, people. I was fairly regular at the longtime, variously-named Scott's-Seafood affiliate restaurant (longest-running name "Cantankerous Fish") that opened this address when the building was completed in 2003, and then expanded south into a former furniture store. There were seriously good things to be found on its menu, fancy dining for special occasions, and outstanding happy-hour food deals at the bar that many locals discovered (it more or less led the local happy-hour food scene for several years, until heavy competition in that specialty really arrived starting around 2011).

Cantankerous (aka Scott's MV) eventually closed, with comments to the effect that the local dining demographic was less keen on white-tablecloth US seafood meals than in the past. Max's Opera Cafe people (Billy Berkowitz, quoted in this blog) invested, and reopened it 11 months ago as Mixx, the place with the eclectic menu from around the world.

I tried Mixx with friends during a pre-opening training session -- very promising, the kitchen executing well, new but diligent servers. Then had a series of casual meals with widely varying menu items. Yet at times the kitchen was really, surprisingly, off its form. Vegetable appetizers brought out conspicuously wilted, that sort of thing. Did nobody care? This was happening after the first month or two, a clear departure from the old seafood-restaurant kitchen, which had showed a more consistent pride of craftsmanship. Similar experiences actually drove away, independently, several people I'm in touch with who were loyal regulars at the former restaurant for years.

So, I don't know how much of the business failure reflected the market un-ready for such a worldwide menu (truly, I had great experiences with those dishes most of the time), and how much it reflected the lack of kitchen quality control that bothered me and my friends. And passing by in recent months it seemed quite busy at popular times, so this news is a surprise.

Posted by Cindy, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on Aug 17, 2015 at 2:59 pm

I think, that many "asian food" restaurants on Castro street downtown Mountain View compete with "european/mideterrian food" restaurants. So, therefore, it depends on people's preferability. You could see "asian" type restaurants usually more busy then "european" type because they have cheaper sea food and other food also.

Posted by Salty Dog, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on Aug 17, 2015 at 3:36 pm

My wife and I have eaten there a number of times both at the bar and in the dining area. We always liked the food, but the difference in the quality of service between the two areas was remarkable. At the bar, the service was always prompt, courteous and timely. In the dining area, the service was always "off" and the waitstaff seemed to either be ill-trained or just didn't give a damn. After awhile, we stopped eating in the dining area because of the service but had dinner in the bar as recently as a week ago. We'll miss the bar, very much, but not the dining area.

Posted by Solange, a resident of Blossom Valley,
on Aug 17, 2015 at 3:47 pm

I have to agree with Max and Salty Dog. I liked the menu and my kids enjoyed the games section. Great location. The lamb meatballs were delicious. Good cocktails menu.

But, 3 out of the last 4 times I went there, there was at least one major screwup of some kind. Either an unacceptably long wait for a server to appear, wrong order, cold food (that was supposed to be hot), etc. I just consistently got the impression that the kitchen never got its stuff together.

I met the owner on one visit and he was very welcoming but this place had problems and might as well shut the doors and move on.

Posted by Greg David, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on Aug 17, 2015 at 10:40 pm

Greg David is a registered user.

I will be a lot less wordy than Max. I went once with my girlfriend, ate a variety of items at the bar, and quite frankly, it kind of sucked. You can\'t suck when you pay that kind of rent. You have to be 100%, 100% of the time.

Posted by Reader, a resident of another community,
on Aug 17, 2015 at 11:15 pm

Oh well.

Hopefully the next restaurateur can get this right. This location has seemingly been cursed.

Posted by foodie, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Aug 18, 2015 at 1:56 am

Wow, that's really interesting about Max's both in PA and SF having the same owner. I think the Palo Alto Max's is one of the best value's in dining locally, and am regularly surprised by how good the food is, especially for the cost, and I'm pretty hard to please.

We went back to the SF Max's this year and it was probably the worst meal I've ever had at a restaurant. I have no idea how they stay in business. I also probably should have reported them to the health department, though I won't go into that. It's absolutely astonishing to think both of those restaurants have the same owner. I'm shocked.

I think that's the story from some of the above posters: consistency is very important in a restaurant. (Even more than cleanliness, service, decent quality food, if the SF Max's is any proof.)

Posted by Par, a resident of Mountain View,
on Aug 18, 2015 at 8:31 am

I work in that block of Castro street so eating at the restaurant near my work should be easy, yet this was I place I rarely went back to. The food was uninspiring and not that flavorful which is the main reason why I never returned. I think steins had tastier food (and I don't think that food is steins core focus). Wait in general was pretty long and I wished they had a more quick lunch menu with faster to arrive dishes. I ended up doing a fair amount of lunches in the kiddie corner at beerhaus, their mustard chicken sandwich is tau y and you get food very fast.

On a different note, I like the food at scratch but for hire long can you eat the same menu over and over? That's the company I wish would have a second menu of more risky, frequently changing items. I guess I've visited enough times that it is beginning to feel tired...

I wish something interesting like that Moroccan place high up on Castro comes to mixx location. I like their food but im sure they struggle with the location (and I got to say that I really like their service).

My few cents.

Posted by Rachel, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on Aug 18, 2015 at 9:03 am

The game room, appetizers and drinks were Mixx's strengths. We went there as a couple and to meet friends without the kids and we went there with the kids. We watched many Giants games there as well as played shuffle board and Jenga. The appetizer/tapas format with a wide drink menu was perfect for these outings. We did not walk away as satisfied when we went for a sit down dinner in the dining room. Is a "game room" theme sustainable for a whole restaurant space? We'd certainly go there.

Posted by office worker, a resident of another community,
on Aug 18, 2015 at 9:34 am

I worked right on Castro St, been to many of the eateries on the street. I have only been to the Mixx once for a co-worker's farewell party. The food is not bad, but not stella either. But for the quality of food, the price is way too high, $18 for a burger is just too much. At the Cascal next door, I could get a big paella for about twice the price - which is a really good deal. We have company paid party/gethering frequently, but nobody nominates to go to Mixx, that tells you something.

Posted by svsportz, a resident of Mountain View,
on Aug 18, 2015 at 9:47 am

My understanding was that they were repeatedly asked to make it into a true Max's and the owner and relatives always knew better than anyone's suggestions. There you go -- unsuccessful and such a waste.

Posted by Max Hauser, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on Aug 18, 2015 at 10:01 am

Max Hauser is a registered user.

Par wrote "I think steins had tastier food (and I don't think that food is steins core focus)."

Par: that's right, Steins bills itself as a beer hall -- but a very high-end kitchen operates out of sight in the building's south end. You walk into the busy, dense space to see a huge stockpot of maybe 20 gallons simmering constantly with scraps to make the foundation broths for sauces and soups while nearby, specialists prep vegetables. Behind that, bakers make the breads, burger buns, etc. Chef had an original 1907 Escoffier on his shelf. Steins's kitchen could compete for Michelin stars, but chef is focused instead on interesting comfort foods to complement the drinks. In its heyday as a seafood restaurant (quite successful for a time -- the issue there wasn't some "curse," but changing public tastes), the Mixx space had a smaller but also very high-standards kitchen (also making its own meat stocks from roasted bones and vegs and this was in a "seafood" restaurant!) but somehow Mixx didn't deliver the potential.

Posted by eric, a resident of another community,
on Aug 18, 2015 at 10:48 am

Good not great food. Good (also not great) but pricey cocktails. Ridiculously limited menu. Spotty service (and frankly that's being kind). I don't think anyone is surprised to see this place fail.

They did do a nice job with the interiors, and I hope that a more skilled operator with a better sense of the current market takes over here.

Posted by kathy, a resident of Sylvan Park,
on Aug 18, 2015 at 3:52 pm

When they opened suggested that they turn the back room into piano bar (like Mission Ranch Carmel), with a martini bar/craft cocktail and light menu similar to Jack Rose in Los Gatos, a place where grownups can hang out (did not care for the game room concept). In any case there seems to be a jinx on this property. I did like the happy hour but you have to sell a lot of $4 glasses of wine to pay Castro Street rents.

Posted by Jeff K, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on Aug 19, 2015 at 4:36 pm

Re: curse(s): I remember past restaurants at the Bierhaus and Scratch locations. Both of those locations seemed cursed as well, but now seem to be doing well. Overall, there are four pretty good anchors at the intersection of Castro and California. For this location next to Cascal, the challenge will be finding the right fit that complements the space and surrounding offerings.

Posted by Rodger, a resident of Sylvan Park,
on Aug 19, 2015 at 4:52 pm

I hope the next restaurant in this locations is a sea food restaurant, as far as I know there are zero of this type in the Castro street and nearby areas. The fact that Scott's closed does not mean a sea food restaurant would not work here, we just need the right approach and execution plus fresh fish is a requirement.

Posted by doolallygurl, a resident of Castro City,
on Aug 19, 2015 at 4:56 pm

We tried this place a few times and found the service to be poor for both the hosts/hostesses and the wait staff. Appeared to be poor training and/or a pretty low bar for quality of service.
Loved the drink menu but the food quality was inconsistent.
We will not miss Mixx.

Posted by Betty White, a resident of Bailey Park,
on Aug 21, 2015 at 3:34 pm

What I heard was that their lease was coming up... and that usually means a big rent increase.

They were never that busy which might mean the food wasn't up to par for the prices. I could never afford to eat there on my own dime... I'm hoping for a MacDonalds or KFC!!! or literally anything else affordable to an office worker.

Posted by the_punnisher, a resident of Mountain View,
on Aug 22, 2015 at 9:42 pm

the_punnisher is a registered user.

Having one ex who was an accountant for a major attraction in Eau Claire WI ( ten bars under one roof was their motto ) I can tell you that the bar can make or break a restaurant's profit margin. A restaurant ALWAYS COSTS THE OWNER WHO MAKES UP THAT LOSS AT THE BAR! That has been the truth since human civilization began. Only SPECIALIZED RESTAURANTS serving the best food AND SERVICE TO GO WITH IT can make a small profit; adding a bar may distract a true gourmet diner who is willing to pay those high prices.
My next wife and I actually worked a short time in a restaurant that only did catered weddings. It was rough to deal with as a waiter ( she worked in the kitchen ) and I left ( IT made better money ) with the proof that the WET BAR raked in the most profit. Even so, the restaurant turned in a profit and the restaurant had a TWO YEAR WAITING LIST FOR BOOKINGS.

If you have made just ONE mistake in service; TEN POTENTIAL CUSTOMERS hear about it!
To be blunt: Crack the whip on your restaurant staff! If the Bar service is better, you are only doing half of your job as a restaurant owner! The world is full of competition that will eat your lunch! ( pun intended )

Posted by Sparty, a resident of another community,
on Aug 23, 2015 at 1:57 am

Sparty is a registered user.

Castro St hasn't quite found the right formula yet. Or rather some of the restaurateurs haven't. Crepevine--not really cheap...but not that expensive...and always packed.

30 years ago you could walk down the middle of Castro no problem. Kids could ride their bikes anywhere they wanted. No problem with getting run over that is, with a minimum amount of awareness. There were even people riding horses down Castro, probably just because they could.

So Castro is a lot better than it was...and I find it hard to believe that it will go back to being the wasteland that it was. Some places just have better ideas than execution.

And even the places was mediocre execution seem to do well--for example a seafood-heavy place you'll find on Castro. Not all that clean...and you walk in the front door, first thing you get to see are slimy tanks of fish...but they're always packed and seem to be doing well. (no, not Seascapes har har)

Posted by Old Gray Mare, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on Aug 23, 2015 at 2:08 pm

We need a place like The Boardwalk that used to be on El Camino Real and has been replaced by yet another Commercial building. The Boardwalk had been there forever, had a wonderful menu from Cheese fondue, pizza, patty melts, hamburgers, and a great casual atmosphere. Loyal, loyal customer's along with local little league and Babe Ruth teams that made it their "go to place for team gatherings." Had a sit down bar that served beer and wine along with TV's placed throughout so you could watch your favorite team. Had a couple of pinball machines at the back for the kids and that was as far as the kid entertainment went.

Somebody do something like The Boardwalk!

Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde,
on Aug 23, 2015 at 4:56 pm

Pizza and cheeseburgers. I've lost weight since The Boardwalk closed.

Posted by rainbow38, a resident of Martens-Carmelita,
on Aug 25, 2015 at 7:51 am

Jake's in Sunnyvale on Fremont off Sunnyvale Saratoga Rd is owned by the same people as Oasis - delicious hamburgers, fries and pizza.

What's needed in Mountain View is a good Jewish deli or the return of Harry's Hofbrau.

Also in Sunnyvale is a Boudins with fresh breads (including turtle-shaped sourdough), good sandwiches, big salads and delicious beef chili in a bread bowl. It's on the corner of El Camino and Sunnyvale Saratoga Rd.

I still miss the House of Yee and am looking for a good Cantonese place to eat.

Posted by Max Hauser, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on Aug 25, 2015 at 10:49 am

Max Hauser is a registered user.

"What's needed in Mountain View is a good Jewish deli. . . I . . . am looking for a good Cantonese place to eat."

FWIW, The Kitchen Table (2010-2012 at 142 Castro) was a Kosher restaurant making some impressive deli items in-house; not enough demand apparently, so it failed (as have many other restaurants I've seen open in MV that would seem to fit a popular desire).

Current Cantonese restaurants include the longtime Kirin (with a loyal following, especially for unique features like its late-night menu); Fu Lam Mum which emphasizes dim sum but also has a special late menu; and the remarkable and relatively new Cooking Papa, which is like a modern transplant from Hong Kong and serves some very typical folksy Cantonese food, such as I've had on its home soil. Tastes vary of course, but those three restaurants together cover a lot of Cantonese cuisine at moderate prices.

Posted by misc, a resident of Bailey Park,
on Jan 19, 2016 at 10:32 pm

What's needed in Mountain View is a good Jewish deli or the return of Harry's Hofbrau. [Portion of post removed.]

Posted by shakeMySugarTree, a resident of Midtown,
on Apr 8, 2016 at 11:08 pm

There is nothing wrong with the location. MIXX was poorly managed and did not offer anything new on Castro. Even the restaurant's interior looked confused. And the people running the place owned several Max Opera cafe -- worse than mediocre food and service. This closure, in my opinion, was long overdue. I'm not cynical because any downtown strip is very expensive retail space and if you do not know what you are doing, you're going to fail. The managers and owner need new blood and fresh ideas.

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