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About this blog: I am a perpetually hungry twenty-something journalist, born and raised in Menlo Park and currently working at the Palo Alto Weekly as education and youth staff writer. I graduated from USC with a major in Spanish and a minor in jo...  (More)

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Longtime Indian restaurant Janta to close in Palo Alto

Uploaded: Dec 21, 2018
Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct conflicting information about what prompted Janta's closure.

Longtime family-run Indian restaurant Janta will close its doors at 369 Lytton Ave. for good on Christmas Eve, Dec. 24.

Baldev and Gurmeet Mann opened Janta in 1993. The restaurant's lease expires at the end of the year. The owners and landlord dispute what led to the closure, though neither would provide concrete evidence to confirm their claims.


Janta on Lytton Avenue in Palo Alto. Palo Alto Weekly file photo.

Janta claims to be one of Palo Alto's first Indian restaurants. Baldev came to the United States in 1985 from India, where he studied history and economics. His first job in America was as a dishwasher at Burger King.

"When I worked in the fast food business, I did not like the way food was served, nor the way people ate," he told the Palo Alto Weekly in 1997. "I know in my country, India, food is a very important part of life . . . like air and water. Food is to be eaten in a quiet and worry-free atmosphere. It was then that I decided to be a cook and started this restaurant."

The year Janta opened, the Palo Alto Weekly declared it "one of the best new ethnic restaurants in town," with as much attention paid to the biryanis and curries as hospitality. The restaurant also received a favorable two stars (two and a half for the food, out of four) from the San Francisco Chronicle in 2000.

In 2012, Janta was in the spotlight briefly when former president Bill Clinton visited the restaurant.


Former president Bill Clinton visited Janta in 2012. Photo courtesy Baldev Mann.

Janta will serve its regular menu through its last day of business on Monday, but the restaurant might open slightly earlier and stay open later on Christmas Eve, according to the the Mann's son, Karanjeet.

"We want to be able to have people come by and enjoy the last meal that they have with us," he said.
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Comments

 +   26 people like this
Posted by Miriam Palm, a resident of Old Palo Alto,
on Dec 21, 2018 at 10:10 am

Miriam Palm is a registered user.

What is wrong with these landlords? What rationale is there for such a rent increase, except "because they can"? Have their costs gone up by this large a factor and they have to pass it on?

I feel they are ruining our town.


 +   15 people like this
Posted by resident, a resident of Midtown,
on Dec 21, 2018 at 1:21 pm

Ever wonder why all the family-friendly restaurants are disappearing from downtown? This is why. Family-friendly menus are no longer profitable with the rent increases that the landlords are demanding.


 +   14 people like this
Posted by Bash the landlord, a resident of Greater Miranda,
on Dec 21, 2018 at 2:53 pm

Miriam and resident"why do you assume that there is something wrong with the landlord? Is it because it has become common for the public to bash landlords? What has the rent been all the years? Has it been below or near market rate without any large increases? Let's get all the facts before we go running around playing the Palo Alto game of “bash the landlord". Maybe you should call in Jeff levinsky, winter dellanbach and all the other “watchdogs" to organize a protest.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Bash the landlord^2, a resident of Mayfield,
on Dec 21, 2018 at 5:40 pm

Have the landlord's cost of administering properties increased? Has the cost of facility maintenance gone up? Maybe the landlord is paying their staff a living wage so they can live in Palo Alto and their kids can go to school with the landlord's kids. Maybe the landlord wants a more reliable tennant that has a longer tennancy than thirty years and pays rent on time every time. The landlord is selling and wants the tennants out. It is obvious.


 +   9 people like this
Posted by Jay, a resident of Downtown North,
on Dec 21, 2018 at 7:25 pm

Yelp gonna be a Starbucks or Chilpolte. Overtime only chain stores will be able to afford the rents and our city will have no more "individual" character. Sad. Greed at its best.


 +   14 people like this
Posted by Karma, a resident of Old Palo Alto,
on Dec 21, 2018 at 7:46 pm

The Manns have paid their rent for 26 straight years. That building was ready to be condemned before they sank six figures into remodeling it. Its quite small, and now the landlord is trying to practically extort $100 per square foot. Lets just see how many months of rent go down the drain waiting for a new tenant. And call it karma.


 +   10 people like this
Posted by Bash the landlord, a resident of Greater Miranda,
on Dec 21, 2018 at 8:13 pm

Karma" the Mann's sunk 6 figures to remodel a building they did not own? Really? Do you know what the meaning of “extortion" is? Amazing how the self-centered, self satisfied residents of Palo Alto are so quick to condemn someone without knowing the full story.

Jay- why don't you explain how the landlord is greedy? How much have the Mann's paid in rent all these years ? Why don't you find out the facts before you engage in name calling


 +   5 people like this
Posted by Tandoori Tim, a resident of Barron Park,
on Dec 22, 2018 at 1:29 pm

When did #42 switch to Indian food? He was far more famous for jogging and grabbing a Big Mac (with a large order of fries) from McDonald's.

There are so many places to eat East Indian food these days that the closure of one Indian restaurant is akin to losing a Mexican restaurant.

I am quite sure that the Mann's ran a highly profitable dining establishment and this new chapter will allow them to either relocate or retire.

The landlord is entitled to market rate leases as Palo Alto is an expensive place to live and/or conduct business.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Bea, a resident of Menlo Park,
on Dec 22, 2018 at 2:08 pm


@ Tandoori Tim

It made perfect sense to see Bill Clinton in that photo. In 2010, he switched to vegan after cardiac issues.


 +   8 people like this
Posted by Stephen, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis,
on Dec 22, 2018 at 3:10 pm

Sorry to see one of our favorite places go. I went there on Friday night and was shocked to learn that they will be closing. 42% increase in rent in one year does seem to be a bit much. In any case, thanks to the Janta folks for all the good food they have made and served through the years. I hope that they re-emerge somewhere else nearby.


 +   6 people like this
Posted by Rather Have a Steak, a resident of another community,
on Dec 22, 2018 at 5:50 pm

> There are so many places to eat East Indian food these days that the closure of one Indian restaurant is akin to losing a Mexican restaurant.

And East Indian food is so over seasoned that you can't tell one East Indian restaurant from another. It must be the cumin.



 +   6 people like this
Posted by BP, a resident of Barron Park,
on Dec 23, 2018 at 11:09 pm

Greedy landlords sucking the life force out of the town. Downtown is only offices and very high end restaurants that charge $100 for dinner, and $50 for lunch.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Online Name, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland,
on Dec 23, 2018 at 11:44 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

So what's going in there? Another office?


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Losing Variety, a resident of Southgate,
on Dec 24, 2018 at 12:43 am

We loved to eat at Janta, and get their takeout, so I'm very sad to hear that it's closing. It's sad that due to rent increases, along with competition from online shopping, many Palo Alto restaurants and businesses have gone out of business, often after decades in the same spot. We end up with less of a variety of stores. For example, California Avenue, which in the 90's had two bookstores, a large camera shop, and many other businesses, is now almost all restaurants/cafes, places to work out, and hair/nail salons (places that can't be replaced by online shopping). Downtown Palo Alto also has much less variety than it used to. There are still some downtowns in the Bay Area with a decent variety of businesses, such as Mountain View and Los Altos. This may be due to lower rent increases there.


 +   6 people like this
Posted by Bash the landlord, a resident of Greater Miranda,
on Dec 24, 2018 at 6:05 am

BP"you forget that Palo Alto,always wanted downtown to be upscale. Remember when Ross was downtown and people felt it did not belong there ? As for the claims that the restaurants charge $100 for dinner- that is way over exaggerated. There are a few expensive places, but most are low cost and very reasonably priced.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde,
on Dec 25, 2018 at 12:55 am

Yeah, 42% increase in one year is a bit steep. My auto registration went up only 35%.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by BP, a resident of Barron Park,
on Dec 25, 2018 at 4:21 pm

Bash the Landlord,
are you the owner of the property?


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by DC, a resident of Sylvan Park,
on Dec 25, 2018 at 5:55 pm

Missing the a few key element in this article. What is the rent, 40% below market? How long is the new lease for? Another20 Years? What is the possible rent increase? What has been the rent increase if any? Was the building sold recently and the new owner is waiting to up the rate?


 +   7 people like this
Posted by Bash the landlord, a resident of Greater Miranda,
on Dec 25, 2018 at 6:22 pm

BP-- LOL. No I am not the owner of the propertu. What a ridiculous question.
Are you familiar with pizza my heart, amber dhara, ores hummus, crepevine, yayoi, wahlbergers, ramen nagi to name a few. All downtown PA restaurants. All places were you can eat for well under $100.
Why don't you stop parroting the tired "greedy landlord" statement and find out the facts.I and others have asked questions about what the rent was. When was the last increase etc.


 +   3 people like this
Posted by Our Poor City, a resident of Old Palo Alto,
on Dec 27, 2018 at 3:46 pm

Someone will come along and pay the rent no matter what. Wealthy investors have no issue bank rolling pricey restaurants no matter how the expensive rents.

It is unfortunate that landlords get away with such rent increases. It would be nice to have an affordable restaurant with great ingrediants and GREAT food. I will miss Janta and the wonderful owners!


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Michael O. , a resident of Stanford,
on Jan 3, 2019 at 7:35 pm

I tried to eat there twice. Each time I was seated then promptly ignored, so I've never actually eaten there. And now I certainly never will.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Cat C, a resident of Cuesta Park,
on Feb 3, 2019 at 9:50 pm

Cat C is a registered user.

Janta's food was less oily than in most Indian restaurants, and was recommended to me as more like home-style Indian cooking. I will miss it a lot.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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