Hillsdale says hello to the modern mall food court with Shake Shack, The Refuge and Instagrammable dim sum | Peninsula Foodist | Elena Kadvany | Palo Alto Online |

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Hillsdale says hello to the modern mall food court with Shake Shack, The Refuge and Instagrammable dim sum

Uploaded: Oct 24, 2019
In the Bay Area, the stale, run-of-the-mill mall food court is swiftly becoming a thing of the past.

This is particularly evident at Hillsdale Shopping Center in San Mateo, where a massive redevelopment is ushering in a lineup of noteworthy restaurants, including Shake Shack, Palette Tea House, Belcampo Meat Co. and The Refuge.

They will open at Hillsdale's new "North Block" redevelopment, nearly 300,000 square feet of retail, dining and entertainment space centered around an outdoor plaza. They'll join a slate of eateries in the shopping center's new-ish "Dining Terrace," including Kuro Obi, Midici the Neapolitan Pizza Company, Uncle Tetsu Japanese Cheesecake and Tacos El Grullense. Winner Winner, which appears to be an East Coast fried and rotisserie chicken restaurant, is also coming to the Dining Terrace in December.

Read on for more details about the newest restaurants coming to the San Mateo shopping center this and next year.

Shake Shack

Shake Shack is continuing its Bay Area burger domination with a new San Mateo location. Photo by Veronica Weber.

This will be the third Bay Area location for Shake Shack. The cult-favorite East Coast burger chain opened its first-ever Northern California outpost in Palo Alto to massive lines last December and another restaurant shortly after in Larkspur. Shake Shack also has two San Francisco locations and one in Oakland in the works.

The company's PR representative confirmed the San Mateo opening but didn't provide further information by press deadline. The other Bay Area locations all serve Shake Shack's Angus beef cheeseburgers on squishy-soft Martin's potato rolls, crinkle-cut fries, hot dogs and other popular dishes, as well as items exclusive to their locations. (In Palo Alto, that came in the form of a new Golden State Double burger made with ingredients from local companies.)

Shake Shack is expected to open in December, according to Hillsdale Shopping Center.

Palette Tea House

Dim sum restaurant Palette Tea House comes from the family behind the iconic Koi Palace and the newer-fangled Dragon Beaux in San Francisco. The Ng family, which opened the first Koi Palace in Daly City in 1996 after immigrating from Hong Kong, have steadily expanded their local empire, now with three Koi Palace locations (Daly City, Dublin and Milpitas); Dragon Beaux, which opened in 2015; and the first Palette Tea House, which arrived in Ghirardelli Square this spring.

A dim sum spread at Palette Tea House, including xiao long bao and durian baos. Photo courtesy Palette Tea House.

Manager Kin Fong described Palette Tea House as "upscale Cantonese" with a focus on dim sum and seafood. The extensive menu includes colorful xiao long bao; several kinds of baos, including durian, matcha and peking duck flavors); live seafood, squid ink fried rice and stir-fried wagyu steak. Palette Tea House also serves beer, wine and cocktails.

"We want to bring more modern style dim sum, small plates, more casual" food, Fong said.

Due to construction delays, he said Palette Tea House will open in San Mateo by the end of this year or in early 2020.

Belcampo Meat Co.

Belcampo's 7,000-square-foot flagship restaurant is set to open at Hillsdale in December. The restaurant is part of a new growth strategy for the hyper-sustainable meat company, which closed retail butcher shops in Palo Alto and San Francisco in February to make way for new projects. With a new commissary kitchen in San Francisco and the San Mateo restaurant, Belcampo shifted its focus to growing e-commerce, food delivery and "large-format premier dining experiences," the company said previously.

Belcampo raises all its animals at a 20,000-acre Mount Shasta farm, takes them to a 20,000 square-foot slaughterhouse designed by renowned animal science doctor Temple Grandin just 20 minutes from the farm and butchers all the meat by hand rather than machine.

Sustainable cuts of meat from Belcampo. Photo by Ciera Pasturel.

The San Mateo Belcampo will be a "fine casual" restaurant serving organic, humanely raised meat sourced directly from Belcampo's farm. It will also have a retail butcher case where customers can buy packaged meats, fresh cuts and cured meats.

The Refuge

The owners of beer and pastrami haven The Refuge in San Carlos and Menlo Park took the unusual step of signing onto a large commercial development at Hillsdale. Co-owner Matt Levin said they've turned down similar projects before, but several aspects about Hillsdale tempted them, including a developer, Bohannon Development Company, who specifically wanted a non-corporate, local tenant; a 1,500-square-foot outdoor beer garden; and the promise of guaranteed volume at a time when small businesses are struggling to make ends meet. (Bohannon's project description notes that Hillsdale attracts over 8 million shoppers annually, "drawing from a market area with household incomes twice the national average.")

"We're still literally ma and pa. It's just my wife and myself still," said Levin, who with his wife Melanie Roth opened the first Refuge in San Carlos in 2008. "But this is going to be a much larger venture."

Owner Matt Levin inside The Refuge in Menlo Park. Photo by Veronica Weber.

He expects a new 870-seat luxury movie theater and a bowling alley (with its own Italian-American restaurant) opening in the North Block of the shopping center will bring in customers to The Refuge.

The 4,700-square-foot San Mateo Refuge will be the same as the other locations, with Belgian beers on tap and pastrami sandwiches, burgers (including one with sliced pastrami), Philly cheese steaks and other gastropub fare. The pastrami is made from the "heart of the navel," the traditional cut used to make the cured meat.

They're replicating many of the materials from the San Carlos and Menlo Park restaurants so San Mateo, while much larger and located at a mall, will have a similar feel. Longtime customers who happen to be graphic designers are creating a 18-foot mural for one wall, Levin said.

"It still will be Refuge," he said. "It's just going to be on a larger scale."

He plans to open the San Mateo Refuge in June 2020.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Scum shack, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland,
on Oct 24, 2019 at 3:40 pm

Is it true that Shake Shack does not take cash? Only credit cards? If so, they are discriminating and need to be boycotted.

Posted by Reality, a resident of another community,
on Oct 26, 2019 at 6:31 pm

Not sure if this is even true, but WHY should normal people boycott a restaurant just because they don't accept cash? That has got to be the stupidest thing I have ever heard. The world is moving to cashless transactions.
Would you boycott an establishment that only accepted cash? Now it may be an individual choice to only go where you can use a credit card, or cash, but why would you call for a boycott? [Portion removed.]

Posted by Scum shack, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland,
on Oct 27, 2019 at 6:38 am

Reality-- why don't you research the issue?
See article below about it and why it is happening. Not everyone has credit cards

Web Link

Posted by Reality not familiar with reality, a resident of College Terrace,
on Oct 27, 2019 at 11:10 am

Reality- [Portion removed.]
Do you know that certain states have had laws on their books for years banning non-cash accepting businesses?
I suggest you read up on the issue before you go on a rant that only makes you look foolish

Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde,
on Oct 28, 2019 at 3:28 am

"Do you know that certain states have had laws on their books for years banning non-cash accepting businesses?"

I guess Charles Schwab and E*Trade lobbied for exemptions? Won't accept cash.
Along those lines, I discovered the IRS does accept cash at its San Jose office.

Posted by LivesNearBy, a resident of another community,
on Oct 30, 2019 at 9:54 am

Cash should be accepted everywhere as it is our currency. This will go to court. Our money states right on it that it is good for all trade. I understand both sides, having handled both types of transactions. Money has to be counted every night, folks make mistakes etc. But it is legal tender for all things.

Posted by Do your homework before posting, a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood,
on Oct 30, 2019 at 10:41 am

"LivesNearBy" is wrong, displaying a misconception common among people who haven't looked into that issue.

The "legal tender for all debts" designation is held in law to apply to debts already existing. Businesses declaring up front that they'll enter into transactions only on the understanding that they require non-cash payment are declining to do business without mutual agreement to those terms, thus providing no service and creating no debt.

The language arose in another era for the completely different reason of some sellers traditionally demanding gold instead of paper money (both, of course, were in use simultaneously for about the first two-thirds of US history).

The large majority of restaurant customers DO have non-cash payment options available to them. Even those with bad credit have access to debit cards, which function like checks. Anyone who objects to the policy can always refuse the vendor their business, and give it any of many competitors -- an option consumers always have, and should use.

Some localities do restrict noncash retailing but that's a local political choice, unrelated to cash's legal role in the US. And it strikes many people as silly and precious. As if unrestricted choice of fast-food hamburgers (!) were some sacred human right. As if there weren't already a dozen competing vendors ready and eager to take cash.

Posted by Downtowner, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park,
on Oct 30, 2019 at 1:05 pm

Do any of you remember when customers got a discount for cash payments? Cash saves merchants from the processing fee charged by the credit card companies, so some vendors passed some of that saving to their buyers.

Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde,
on Oct 30, 2019 at 6:48 pm

@Downtowner, don't know whether still true, but I'd heard that the business owner's agreement with the credit card company says they cannot offer a cash discount or charge a higher price for accepting the card. Then I see gasoline stations offering cash discounts. Maybe the card companies accept this now as a loss leader hoping the customers don't pay their balance in full and turn it into a 19.6% loan.

I'll note conversely that 1 zone on Caltrain costs $3.75 cash, discounted to $3.20 by Clipper card. But Clipper card is actually an advance payment, sort of like a debit card. Pardon for getting off Elena's topic here.

Posted by Jasmine, a resident of another community,
on Nov 7, 2019 at 9:19 am

Wow, what an aggressively anti-vegetarian/vegan lineup of restaurants!

Posted by Gary Lowe, a resident of another community,
on Nov 21, 2019 at 3:34 pm

I guess if you don't have a credit card, you will be boycotting by default. There are plenty of places that take cash. Go to those places.

Posted by Ggnana, a resident of another community,
on Nov 21, 2019 at 10:00 pm

Sounds like a good topic outlook and observation platform.

Posted by Nicholi tesla, a resident of Atherton,
on Dec 1, 2019 at 9:36 am

Hillsdale Mall North Block. Destination mall, looks like the Ninth wonder of the World. Clean and very beautiful.

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