Shop Talk: ribs ramp-up; vanishing florists; kids' coding school


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.

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Like this comment
Posted by Laurie Marshall
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 4, 2014 at 10:03 am

Though I live in the Willow Glen area of San Jose now, I was born & raised in Palo Alto on Greer Rd. I also lived in College Terrace while attending Foothill College. About 2 months ago, I was attending a meeting at the Palo Alto Unitarian Church. When I walked out of the meeting into the parking lot, I heard some really good 'live' rock music coming from Mitchell Park, that is adjacent to the parking lot. My first guitar teacher was a guy named 'Bob' who taught me some songs at Dana Morgan Music in Downtown Palo Alto in 1966. I found out years later that 'Bob' was Bob Weir who later played with the Grateful Dead. I also have been taking blues lessons on the electric bass for a little over a year at School Of The Blues in san Jose. After I heard some of this live rock music emanating from somewhere in the park, I decided that I needed to go & investigate it further. I got into my car & drove around the block to Mitchell Park. At the skating rink was where all this loud music was coming from, & it was KIDS; teenagers who were playing all these amazingly good songs! The music was from TOOL, Led Zeppelin & Jimmy Page & much more; the hard rock music I grew up listening to when i lived in Palo Alto. I got myself a seat & joined the small audience in folding metal chairs in front of the 'stage' in that small cement skating rink. I found out from some of the parents about 'The School Of Rock' & was quite impressed with the abilities & talent of ALL the girls & boys performing. I even saw another 'girl' playing the Bass & told her that I played the Bass too & that I thought she was very good. (She was very modest in thanking me.) The enthusiasm of these kids was totally infectious. The amazing talent of these young people was wonderful to see & hear. What a great cultural addition to the community this organization is! Good luck to Hansel Lynnn's coding center. It sounds like he is really in tune with kids & how they learn; what they want, need & can utilize in today's fast-paced environment.

Like this comment
Posted by Mom
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Aug 4, 2014 at 10:56 am

I don't know how to reach Hansel Lynn for theCoderSchool. So I am hoping to reach him here.

There are a lot of places to learn coding. What's not out there is the intermediate level coding classes.

My son in your target age range took several beginner's classes for different software and computer languages. However, he doesn't go on any further.
It's partly because he is committed to other activities. we, parents, don't do programming on regular basis.

For our family, going to a CoderDojo is a bit too much work.

Also I don't want my son to do nothing but code. There is nothing in between beginners and the advanced.

So Mr. Lynn,
please make some intermediate classes with educational projects of coding which could branch out to some interesting applications. The class description could include "for the students who went to a introduction class for Java (or other languages) over summer, want to further your skills, not to make them fade away, want to enter some competitions, want to start preparing AP Comp Sci"

Like this comment
Posted by Sad, isn't It?
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 4, 2014 at 9:30 pm

Once a community, now a commodity.

Like this comment
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 4, 2014 at 10:04 pm

@Mom, Take a look a "The Art of Problem Solving" programming courses.

Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by Mom
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Aug 5, 2014 at 8:40 am


Thank you for your info.
I knew the site and I checked the site when they just made one programming course. My daughter didn't like the online programming by EPGY, so I didn't pay attention too much back then.
Online course has pros and cons.
It's been long time I left online courses for my kids.
I would dig into the online course world once again to see if it's something that turns on my son's motivation switch in his brain.
Thanks again.

Like this comment
Posted by Chris Dasinsky
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 29, 2014 at 1:49 pm

Coding schools are a great way for kids to learn fundamental coding principles. Because they had summer break it seems like a fantastic activity! My children were so interested in coding after taking one of these summer classes that I decided to enroll them into LearnToProgram's summer of code. Their membership includes all of their courses, which is great because they can explore mobile, web and game development! Here's a link to their membership trial offer, it's expiring soon so take advantage today! Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by food
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Aug 29, 2014 at 10:56 pm

I can't seem to find an internet presence on the food truck. Where is it? Daily locations? help?

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

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