Shop Talk: Trader Vic's departs for The Sea | News | Palo Alto Online |


Shop Talk: Trader Vic's departs for The Sea

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RESTAURANTS GOING AND COMING ... Some good news and some bad news for restaurant-goers: Palo Alto is losing three high-end restaurants next month, but gaining three new ones. Gone will be Trader Vic's at 4269 El Camino Real, in front of Dinah's Garden Hotel. The Polynesian-themed restaurant that was known for its exotic tropical drinks with elaborate garnishes is slated to close in late August to make room for The Sea by Alexander's Steakhouse. The restaurant will specialize in seafood and is a new venture for the Michelin-starred Alexander's Steakhouse, which has locations in Cupertino and San Francisco. An experienced team has been put into place to manage The Sea; some of the team works at Alexander's, and others have a long working history at both Spago and Fleming's Steakhouse, according to Alexander's chef and chief operating officer Jeffrey Stout, who will be chef at The Sea. "With The Sea sandwiched between our two locations in San Francisco and Silicon Valley, we feel this is the perfect location to support each other as a restaurant group," he said. The new restaurant is scheduled to open in mid- to late-October.

Next out the door is Mantra, an Indian restaurant at 632 Emerson St. that began serving in March 2006. Incoming is the Mexican eatery Tacolicious. Owner Joe Hargrave has big plans for the site. A massive renovation is planned, with Hargrave plunking down $500,000, "and that's just for the construction," he said. "Then there's the new furniture, the new fixtures and the art." The plans call for walls to be torn down to make the kitchen visible to diners. "You'll see a lot more energy here," Hargrave said. A veteran restaurateur who has two other Tacolicious locations in San Francisco, he said: "I've been thinking about coming to Palo Alto for a while. I love this community and I have a lot of friends and investors here." The restaurant is expected to seat more than 100 guests and open in October or November.

The third shutdown is Lavanda, a Mediterranean Italian and Croatian restaurant and wine bar at 185 University Ave., on the corner of Emerson Street. Although owner Bruce Schmidt said, "We will be reopening soon at a location nearby," he did not provide additional information. Replacing Lavanda is Campo Pizzeria, a new concept from the owners of Sam's Chowder House in Half Moon Bay and Osteria Coppa in San Mateo. Sources said that Campo Pizzeria is expected to open in October.

TROUBLE AHEAD FOR TERRITORY AHEAD ... At least two of Territory Ahead's four stores are closing this month, including the one at Stanford Shopping Center. Scheduled to shut down for good on July 28, the travel and casual clothing store is currently offering most merchandise at steep discounts. Territory Ahead opened an outlet store in Midtown Palo Alto in 2004, but that, along with its companion store, Travelsmith, closed several years ago.

NEW SUBWAY FOR SOUTH PALO ALTO ... A Subway is coming to Charleston Center at the corner of Middlefield and Charleston roads. Construction began this week to transform a small office that was home to an insurance company into the sandwich shop. Located near Piazza's Fine Foods and next to Green Elephant restaurant, Subway is expected to open in late summer/early fall.

Heard a rumor about your favorite store or business moving out, or in, down the block or across town? Daryl Savage will check it out. Email

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Like this comment
Posted by randy albin
a resident of Mountain View
on Jul 23, 2012 at 11:04 am

apparently, these restaurants find it difficult to hang onto loyal customers. perhaps if the economy wasn't like it it now these businesses could stay in business for a longer period of time. it's confusing when there is such turnover when folks decide where it is they want to hang out and order some good menu choices

Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 23, 2012 at 11:46 am

So sorry to see Mantra leaving. I have been there several times and have always been very impressed with the food and service. It always seemed to be busy.

Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jul 23, 2012 at 5:24 pm

I'm with Resident - always enjoyed Mantra. Lavanda, otoh, wasn't very impressive the last time I was there. It'll be interesting to see what happens. As for its replacement, I know that an Osteria Coppa manager or GM was w/La Strada & the excellent Donato Enoteca, so he knows the area. Best of luck to the new ventures.

Like this comment
Posted by Terry
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 23, 2012 at 9:59 pm

If you haven't tried Lavanda, suggest to do it while you can. In my opinion, best PA restaurant.

Like this comment
Posted by Chomp
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 24, 2012 at 2:18 am

The restaurant scene in PA is absurd; it's like a food court. Too many choices, and not enough customers. Money down a rabbit hole!

Like this comment
Posted by David
a resident of Palo Verde School
on Jul 24, 2012 at 10:42 am

Trader Vics was wonderful in the 50s and 60s in SF and Emeryville. No longer. No loss.

Like this comment
Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 24, 2012 at 10:44 am

I hope the new Subway is owned by someone other than the owner of the Midtown subway, I've was there when they had green meat, no more Subway for me!

Like this comment
Posted by Raymond Lucas
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jul 24, 2012 at 11:06 am

I'm not sure how a new mexican restaurant can exist. It's not as though you can't find it on every corner. How about something new for a change.

Like this comment
Posted by Rick
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 24, 2012 at 11:38 am

Very excited for the new venture by Alexander's Steakhouse - great restaurant. Lavanda was good, but dated, by about 10 years. These are all good developments in the PA restaurant scene. Don't understand the Subway near Piazzas when there is already one on Middlefield just a mile away, but then again, there are Starbucks on every corner in some towns, too.

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Posted by Kristine
a resident of Ventura
on Jul 24, 2012 at 12:03 pm

Sorry to see Subway come to Charleston Ctr - seems like there are plenty of them around. Rojos wraps, in the same center, offers a refreshing change for the inexpensive & quick meal. Its food is fresh, healthy, & tasty - with lots of different choices. I like to see a family run business succeed. Hope the center doesn't lose them. Finally made it in early enough this weekend to try their veggie breakfast burrito - it was fantastic! Check it out. I have really appreciated having them in South PA, we need good places to eat here that are not just the bland chain eateries.

Like this comment
Posted by Paco
a resident of St. Claire Gardens
on Jul 24, 2012 at 12:59 pm

As the high-end business's in Palo Alto leave, such as Facebook, HP, Loral Space Systems, etc... so go the high-end restaurants. In turn, residents get a Taco, fish, Subway sandwich store, and yet another pizza restaurant. A once vibrant city is reduced to a retirement community with strip malls and generic restaurants thanks to a city council and city manager with no vision.

Like this comment
Posted by Lin
a resident of Addison School
on Jul 24, 2012 at 2:47 pm

I still miss the Good Earth and Andale on University (was soooo popular while it lasted) Great food; great prices and service !! Just wish there was a great gourmet ghetto somewhere around here - the Food Trucks are welcome -- but long waits and you have to find them - they move around. But doesn't that tell you something that they are so well liked ! ?

I doubt places with investors and high rent will match the great Cuisine of San Francisco...but still hoping...

Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jul 24, 2012 at 7:34 pm

Lin - when I was much younger, a cockroach crawled onto my table when it was Good Earth. I will NEVER forget that!

Paco - people still go to PA for fine dining - many Stanford folks do, and it's not like Facebook moved far away.

Still, when you have Quattro anchoring the area near 101 & Madera anchoring the area at 280, you likely see a slight downturn in customers in PA w/fine dining. LB Steakhouse may or may not erode some of those numbers, too.

Like this comment
Posted by local
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 24, 2012 at 11:58 pm

Will miss special occasion brunch at Trader Vic's. (Couldn't afford it of late, though.) Loved Mantra and sorry to see it go, but have to admit we would have gone more if the food hand't been so inconsistent. One time excellent, another so salty almost inedible. Inconsistency is the death knell of a higher end dining place.

Like this comment
Posted by JBrown
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jul 28, 2012 at 7:52 pm

Lin- There is still an Andale at the SF airport but you have to go through security to get to it. Not sure which terminal, but I have seen it and had my favorite grilled chicken salad when I did. They may also still have one in Los Gatos. I was sad to see them go away from PA.

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