Shop Talk: new hotels, a market and more

Business openings, closings and more

Four new hotels scheduled to open, Miki's Market may make a comeback and the Nike store reopens.

FOUR NEW HOTELS ON HORIZON... Palo Alto is looking extremely tourist-friendly, with a total of four, four-story hotels poised to open. The two that will open first are both Hiltons. Hilton Homewood Suites is an 111,000-square-foot structure at 4329 El Camino, while the Hilton Garden Inn is a 105,000-square-foot hotel less than two blocks north at 4214 El Camino. Homewood Suites is an upscale, extended-stay hotel built on the former site of Palo Alto Bowl. It will have 138 rooms, each with a full kitchen. The hotel will also have a rooftop fitness room and courtyard with pool. Scheduled for a January 2015 opening, it sits directly across from Marriott's Residence Inn. The Hilton Garden Inn is located near Arastradero Road, close to Hobee's Restaurant. The hotel will have 174 guest rooms and two levels of underground parking. Referring to the close proximity of the two hotels, Homewood Suites General Manager Matt Dolan said, "Hilton evaluates the markets and brand availability in any specific area before approving hotel projects. It may seem notable due to the timing of the projects, but the demand for Hilton brands is greater than supply." Also in the planning stage and going through the preliminary approval process is The Clement, a smaller, boutique-style hotel to be built at 711 El Camino, immediately south of The Westin Palo Alto. Initial plans, which were submitted to the city in December 2013, call for 23 hotel rooms, a rooftop pool and nearly 7,000 square-feet of commercial space. Staybridge Suites is also on tap for Palo Alto, taking over the site of Ming's Restaurant at 1700 Embarcadero Road. Ming's will remain open until all the plans are approved by the city. Then the current building will be demolished. A 147-room hotel with kitchens in every room will take its place. A new, smaller Chinese restaurant will also be built on the site.

MIKI'S MARKET MAY REINVENT ITSELF ... Miki's Farm Fresh Produce, the grocery store that opened and closed within six months, may be returning to Palo Alto, but with a new name. Tentatively called College Terrace Market, the store could be the replacement for the former JJ&F Market. "I don't want to put my name on anything ever again," said Miki Werness, who opened his grocery store at Alma Village in October 2012. The market went out of business in April 2013. The proposed new store, located at the corner of El Camino Real and College Avenue, will take up the first floor of the planned two-story College Terrace Centre building. Reflecting on his short-lived Alma Village market, Werness said, "It's not that I failed. I just tried something that didn't work. It was an inferior site. And the store faced the wrong way," Werness said, admitting that mistakes were made. "You would think that 3,000 cars a day going down Alma would be a plus. It wasn't," he said. But things are different this time, Werness says. He is collaborating with the developers of the College Terrace site: Patrick Smailey and his son, James. "I've been working with the Smaileys and they are doing everything they possibly can to make the new grocery store a success," Werness said. The store will be smaller than the original one, according to Werness -- between 9,000 and 10,000 square feet. "The location is much better than Alma Village," he added. "First of all, the store will face out, onto El Camino. That's important. And it's close to Stanford. Plus, it's in a neighborhood with a lot of foot traffic." Current plans for the market include a small bakery and a deli. And as far as funding the venture, "I have more financial backing than I ever had at Miki's," Werness said, adding that he is now, "just sitting and waiting. We still need approval from the Planning Commission before we can move forward. If it's meant to be, it will happen."

NIKE REOPENS AT STANFORD ... The Nike Running Store reopened at Stanford Shopping Center this month, after closing in July. The sports store resurfaced on Oct. 9 after a complete redo of the space, which gave it an additional 1,000 square feet. Also new are reclaimed wood floors, wall murals and a focus on women's sports.

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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