BevMo scores permit for Menlo Park store


Second time's the charm: Beverages & More (BevMo) scored a use permit from the Menlo Park Planning Commission to open an 8,900-square-foot store at the former site of the Chili's restaurant on El Camino Real.

The Planning Commissioners voted 4-3 to grant the permit after listening to nearly two hours of public comment. They also agreed to review the permit after three years.

Seventeen people spoke against the permit, including Dan Beltramo Jr., whose voice roughened with emotion as he thanked everyone for supporting his family's store, and other local wine sellers.

"They're not going to put anyone out of business; they're going to dilute the business," said Janet Benson, a local sales representative for Richmond-based Wine Warehouse.

Five speakers asked the commissioners to allow BevMo into Menlo Park; three are company employees. Jeff Sealy, the chain's vice president of real estate, said approximately 1,600 Menlo Park residents belong to the store's rewards program, and the store would create 12 to 15 new jobs.

Commissioners Kirsten Keith and Katie Ferrick voted against the permit on grounds that Menlo Park didn't need another liquor store, and the city should protect independent local businesses.

Vice Chair Vincent Bressler also opposed the action, suggesting that denying the use permit could force the building's owner to remodel the strip mall.

"For heaven's sake, what was in there was Chilis. If anything, BevMo is a step up," responded Commissioner Henry Riggs, who described the vacant space as "a peculiar building in a peculiar situation."

Local alcohol retailers such as Beltramos sent out anonymous mailers urging residents to oppose the permit, claiming that a large chain store would threaten homegrown businesses and damage the city's character. The majority of the commissioners said they didn't believe BevMo was a threat to local merchants.

Three years ago, BevMo shelved plans for a store on Santa Cruz Avenue in the face of protests from the same group of retailers using the same arguments about character and competition.

However, not everyone who lives in Menlo Park shared that sentiment, then or now. During the past month residents bombarded the Planning Commission with e-mails asking them to approve the store, suggesting that the empty space may as well be put to use generating an estimated $18,000 in sales tax revenue.

— Sandy Brundage

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Like this comment
Posted by Hank
a resident of Menlo Park
on Aug 24, 2010 at 8:55 pm

Beltramos had a great run for almost 40 years. I'm glad there will be other choices in town. Sign of the times.

Like this comment
Posted by Dave
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 25, 2010 at 11:12 am

Excellent. No more trips to the Mountain View BevMo. And right across from the Safeway. Reduces my carbon footprint.

Like this comment
Posted by AMR
a resident of another community
on Aug 25, 2010 at 2:51 pm

The wine shops that are already in the Menlo Park area (Beltramo's and K & L, specifically) do not have the same price range as a BevMo. I buy inexpensive and expensive wine regularly, and the options for inexpensive wine seemed limited at the stores already in Menlo Park. For high end buyers, BevMo won't cut into the market, they'll continue to go to the specialty stores.

Like this comment
Posted by Pleased
a resident of Menlo Park
on Aug 25, 2010 at 5:58 pm

Regardless of the outcome, MP will additional sales tax revenues, and another 12-15 jobs, none of which it had before ! If we can get enough small business's, things will add up faster ! So where is Whole Foods ?

Like this comment
Posted by tom h
a resident of Menlo Park
on Sep 3, 2010 at 12:25 pm

the city council is not listening to the people
i own a business in MP and no one i have talked to wants Bevo
we have pleanty of liquor already
same goes for whole foods also know as whole paycheck

Like this comment
Posted by Richard
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 8, 2011 at 9:24 pm

A tax dodging commish only rep from an east bay is far from an expert on anything.

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

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