Shop Talk

A WASH, A RIB AND A TRUCK ... For many Palo Altans, a car wash and a rack of ribs go together. Blame that combo on Harold Willis. He's the one who carved out a corner at Lozano's Car Wash, 2690 El Camino Real, Mountain View, 14 years ago where he set up his smoker and his barbecue grill. It's a unique location — an area where Palo Alto, Los Altos and Mountain View all come together. Now Willis is taking his operation to the next level. He's getting into the food-truck business and ramping up his catering business. In addition to serving customers at Lozano's, Willis will be dishing out his ribs, sausage, chicken and hot dogs from a 1961 vintage fire truck, originally used by a fire department in Oregon. "I cleaned it up, I got it painted, I redesigned it. It's now got a full-blown kitchen. I'm calling it Harold's Original Doggie Diner, and I'll be traveling up and down the streets of Palo Alto and Mountain View," he said. The food truck is scheduled to take to the roads on Aug. 15.

PALO ALTO'S VANISHING FLORISTS ... Palo Alto has lost two longtime florists in the past year, and a third florist's future is uncertain. Stanford Floral Design shut down last year after 19 years in business at 433 Hamilton Ave. A skyrocketing rent increase gave its owner no choice but to close up shop and run his floral business out of his East Palo Alto home. And last month, Avenue Florist, 347 California Ave., sold its last bouquet, prompted by the redevelopment of the building it had leased for 25 years. The latest flower shop to close, at least temporarily, is Stanford Florists, 620 Emerson St. The shop has been cleared out of fresh flowers. All that remains are a few cactus plants, some hanging baskets, a balloon grouping, a bunch of wooden display pieces and a prominent "No Trespassing" sign on the front door. A call to the shop's Palo Alto phone number was transferred to a florist in Sunnyvale. An employee there said Stanford Florist is closed temporarily but will reopen in a few months.

KIDS' CODING SCHOOL ... Palo Alto resident Hansel Lynn seems to thrive on the cusp of innovation. He is preparing to open theCoderSchool, an after-school program that teaches kids how to code, in late August in Alma Village, 3441 Alma St. "This all started when I was looking for some kind of coding classes for my own kids, and there was nothing out there," he said. So Lynn decided to create his own coder-learning center. "Since Palo Alto is the technology capital of the world, this is the place to do it," he said. This is not Lynn's first kid-oriented venture in Palo Alto. Nearly two years ago, he opened School of Rock, 2645 Middlefield Road. The pricing structure for theCoderSchool is still being worked out, but Lynn estimates a monthly cost of $200 to $400 per student, depending on the program. Age range is 8 to 18 years old, but Lynn expects most students will be 14 years and under. He expects that managing the newly constructed 1,000-square-foot-space, located behind Starbucks and next to Grocery Outlet, will be more of an avocation than a full-blown career for him. "I am primarily a real estate developer, which allows me to do the emotionally rewarding things like School of Rock and theCoderSchool," Lynn 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 shoptalk@paweekly.com.


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Best Of Palo Alto ballot is here

It's time to decide what local business is worthy of the title "Best Of Palo Alto" — and you get to decide! Cast your ballot online. Voting ends May 29th. Stay tuned for the results in the July 21st issue of the Palo Alto Weekly.