Shop Talk: A hummus explosion and technopants


BIG PLANS FOR SMALL RESTAURANT ... The tiny Oren's Hummus at 261 University Ave. in Palo Alto is planning to open a second location in February at 126 Castro St. in Mountain View. It replaces Workshop Burger, a hamburger joint that had less than a two-year run on Castro. And that's just the beginning. There are at least three other Bay Area locations that the hummus restaurant is currently looking at for its expansion plans. Oren's opened two years ago in Palo Alto and caught on like wildfire, according to its chef. "We're always busy," said David Cohen, a Bay Area veteran chef who came to Oren's last year. Cohen said he believes one of the reasons for the restaurant's popularity is its attention to detail. "We're very particular about our choice of ingredients," Cohen said. He imports an estimated 40,000 kilos of chickpeas a year. That's about 240 pounds of beans a day. "They come here in tankers from Israel. And that amount could double once we get the restaurant in Mountain View up and going," he said. That certainly gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "bean counter."

BOUTIQUE TAKES ROOT ... A popular clothing boutique in wine country has expanded into Palo Alto, opening its doors last week. S. Graf Ltd. took over two storefronts to create the 1,500-square-foot clothing and accessory shop on the corner of Hamilton Avenue and High Street, next to Lyfe Kitchen. "Now that my Healdsburg store is running like a well-oiled machine, it was time to find a second location," owner Susan Graf said. "I looked up and down the Peninsula and chose Palo Alto because it looks like downtown Healdsburg did about 15 years ago. I also noticed that there are a lot of restaurants downtown, but not so many clothing stores," she said. Now a resident of both Healdsburg and Palo Alto, Graf is diving headfirst into her Palo Alto boutique. "I've found a place to live and I've already hired five employees," she said. Graf says Oprah Winfrey is among her fans. "Oprah bought a pair of 'technopants.' They're Italian; they're $450; and they last for years," Graf said.

AMERICAN-STYLE GRILL TO OPEN ... Mountain View's San Antonio Center is gearing up for its first new restaurant grand opening, on Dec. 9. Paul Martin's American Grill, located on the San Antonio Road side of the center, is currently in full hiring mode. "We're looking for 180 employees for our restaurant," said Lauren Copenhagen, the general manager. Since the restaurant seats about 200 customers, that translates into almost one employee per diner. "Yes, it's a lot of hires, but that's because we take really good care of our customers," she said. Paul Martin's will be open for lunch and dinner and eventually add a prix-fixe Sunday brunch. It's the restaurant chain's sixth restaurant in California.

WHEEL OF PLEASURE AT GRAND OPENING ... The adult-oriented store Good Vibrations, which quietly opened last month at 534 Ramona St. in Palo Alto, is readying itself for a grand opening. Scheduled for Nov. 23, from 5 to 7 p.m., the event will feature special offers and, most importantly, a chance to spin the store's Wheel of Pleasure. Prizes on the wheel include adult sex toys and erotica books, and all who sign up for store emails get a chance to spin. "We've been quite moved by the positive response we've had here already. Our neighboring vendors have been especially kind and supportive," Good Vibrations spokesperson Camilla Lombard said.

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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