"Secret" Apple store taking shape ... Apple's newest and possibly grandest store, while still hidden from ground-level view by tall black sheeting, is taking shape on the west end of Stanford Shopping Center.
Although officials at both the mall and Apple's Cupertino headquarters continue to be tight-lipped about the huge structure, construction is in full swing seven days a week, usually beginning at 7 a.m., according to a security guard at the site. A large crane towers above the single-story, 23-foot-tall store to carefully lift glass panels into place.
When asked about the status of the store last week, company spokesperson Michaela Wilkinson would say only: "We have made no announcement about a store at that location." The identical statement was given to the Weekly one year ago, when the story first was printed about the 12,000-square-foot store beginning construction.
At that time, a source familiar with the project said that initial estimates were for a grand opening in November 2012. The apparent delays may be due to the sensitive glass design of the building.
"Apple is a great innovator of glass. The glass technique used in this building is very advanced. Unlike other materials, there is no forgiveness with glass. It has to be precise and must fit perfectly. There's no margin of error. It's a complicated process but will be well worth the time and investment to create the indoor/outdoor environment in the design of the building," said the source, who would speak only under the condition of anonymity.
Although the project is obscured from shoppers in the mall, and even Google maps fail to yield clues since the satellite photo of the location has not been updated in more than a year, there is one way to see it, thanks to a creative Weekly reader. A two-story parking garage that faces Neiman Marcus makes for adequate viewing. Climb the 20 steps to the upper level to get a fairly unobstructed panorama of the sheer size and elegant design of the new Apple store.
Pizzeria Delfina to replace Empire Tap Room ... The unexpected closing last month of the Empire Tap Room, a Palo Alto fixture for 21 years, has made way for a new restaurant. Pizzeria Delfina will move into 651 Emerson St. after remodeling.
The pizzeria has a long history in San Francisco. The original Delfina restaurant opened in 1998 in San Francisco's Mission District; seven years later, Pizzeria Delfina opened next door. It became known for its Neapolitan-style, thin-crust pizza. In 2008, the second Pizzeria Delfina opened in Pacific Heights.
Palo Alto is the third location, and downtown Burlingame will be the fourth. Both Palo Alto and Burlingame are looking at late September/early October openings, according to Craig Stoll, who owns the restaurants with his wife, Anne. The couple also owns Locanda Osteria, a two-year-old Italian restaurant/bar on Valencia Street in San Francisco.
"We've been coming to Palo Alto for years and looking for locations for a restaurant, and then lo and behold, we got the call that Empire Tap Room was closing," Stoll said. He plans to renovate the aging building. "But we don't know to what extent yet. We'll see what we can afford," he said.
New breakfast option in Palo Alto's Midtown ... Midtown's newest restaurant is ready to open. Owner John Hsu has pegged June 11 as the first day of business for The Palo Alto Breakfast House. He took over the Cafe Sophia spot at 2706 Middlefield Road and transformed the Afghani restaurant into a casual, colorful, light and airy space that will serve breakfast all day.