News

SAP launches tech cafe at historic Palo Alto theater

HanaHaus at Varsity Theatre prepares to serve up Blue Bottle Coffee to local innovators

Seeking to breathe new life into a venerable downtown Palo Alto landmark, software giant SAP on Tuesday unveiled a product guaranteed to generate some buzz: a cafe geared toward local innovators in the historic Varsity Theatre.

With Gunn High School's jazz combo playing in the sprawling courtyard of the 1927 building and mugs of Blue Bottle espressos mass-produced by baristas in the building's lobby, HanaHaus hosted a grand-opening ceremony to give a few hundred techies and a few dozen dignitaries a taste of things to come.

The cafe, which opens to the public on Thursday morning, March 19, is taking over a building at 456 University Ave. that has been largely deserted since Border's Books shuttered its operation three and a half years ago.

Sanjay Shirole, global head of HanaHaus, said the vision of the venue is to go "beyond a great cafe." It's to create a place where people can "work, learn and play," with a "focus on innovation."

A brain child of SAP co-founder Hasso Plattner, the venue seeks to pair the culture of cafes with the area's culture of innovation. Blue Bottle Coffee has set up shop at the large lobby, which also features rows of tables and chairs for individuals and groups. A sprawling space on the open floor centers around a stage, which SAP wants to see used for musical events, TED-style talks, poetry slams and lectures, Shirole said during the ceremony. Work spaces are scattered throughout the 15,000-square-foot space, which also includes two small conference rooms on one side and a larger conference room on the other.

Shirole stressed that while the cafe is geared toward the innovation community, it is open for everyone.

Councilman Pat Burt recalled the history of the building as a theater and a nightclub before it was refurbished as a book store. He characterized SAP's new cafe as "the merging of the past and the future" and the rebirth of the beautiful building.

"It went from being a social and cultural center for the community to one that was intellectual and social," Burt said. "Now we're merging all those together – cultural, social, creative, intellectual. All those things are going to come together in one place and really have this beautiful building be born again."

The new cafe is, in itself, a pilot project. Shirole said Plattner's vision is to ultimately open similar cafes in other cities, including Berlin and London.

Comments

5 people like this
Posted by moving on
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Mar 17, 2015 at 9:50 pm

moving on is a registered user.

Just what the teens of Palo Alto need...more meeting space!


13 people like this
Posted by Mr.Recycle
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 17, 2015 at 10:10 pm

@moving on - let's wait and see if it has better hours than the libraries before we dismiss the value to teens.


19 people like this
Posted by Jay Park
a resident of Mountain View
on Mar 18, 2015 at 8:50 am

@moving on:

Absolutely.

Teens should spend more time conversing and sharing ideas in a face-to-face environment, not just texting or Instagramming selfies.


16 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 18, 2015 at 9:25 am

It makes me sad that this beautiful historic space is not intended for enjoyment for the entire community, but rather a select group. Do you think kids and families will be welcome here?


20 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 18, 2015 at 9:40 am

I recently attended a production in the Fox Theater in Redwood City.

It is a beautiful theater and is used for many varied performances, lectures, shows, concerts, etc. I felt I had been taken out of Silicon Valley and transported back in time, or to another venue in a major city, but instead I was 20 minutes from home. Although we did have a meal out as well, it was not a major disruption to everyday life and it was pleasant not to have to worry about traffic and parking in either San Francisco or San Jose. The tickets were much more affordable and the production was extremely well attended.

This theater is being used for many and varied productions and is supported by the community, local businesses and the public who enjoy it.

We need to have more of these types of events. We need these lovely old theaters to be used for the intention they were built. Stanford Theater is always well attended with its retro black and white oldies. Having the Varsity Theater restored and having live entertainment would be wonderful also.


20 people like this
Posted by Perspectives
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 18, 2015 at 9:58 am

Perspectives is a registered user.

I'm still (since last year's preview article) confused as to who this cafe is geared toward. Is it teens? It sounds more like the 20-something tech crowd. And what defines an "innovator"?

How can a cafe space be geared so narrowly toward hi-tech innovators? Why does it matter what someone is working on behind that laptop screen? I can't get my head around this concept. Why not just have it be a dubbed a fluid community working cafe?

I think it's great that the space is being put to use, I just don't understand the label, nor who, other than young hip very- specifically- techies, will feel welcomed. Are other demographics just supposed to know to stay away?


4 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 18, 2015 at 9:58 am

The Fox Theater is a great spot. I went there on movie dates when I was a kid.

However, the Fox in its current incarnation has struggled to stay solvent. It has taken several owners, significant financial investment and over a decade to get the Fox in its current state. And my understanding is that it struggles to stay in the positive even today.

Obviously it will not happen in the short-term...but if the Varsity were to be re-converted to a performing arts venue, it would take major bucks and the willingness to run at a loss for more time than what most bank accounts can afford.

There have been others (not you) who have demanded that The Varsity return to its roots. In other words, force Chop Keenan to make it a theater again. But none of those folks are willing to put up the cash!


10 people like this
Posted by Jay Park
a resident of Mountain View
on Mar 18, 2015 at 10:27 am

@resident:

The article says the cafe area is open to the public.

@Perspectives:

My guess is that the cafe will attract people of many ages, and many will be tech folks in their 20s and 30s. Their clientele will probably be similar to Coupa Cafe on Ramona Street, Red Rock and Dana Street Roasting (both in Mtn View), and the long-defunct Caffe Verona (now Reposado, but the king of startup coffee shops in the Nineties).

SAP/HanaHaus can only hope to attract the tech crowd and innovators, but it is the customers that ultimately decide where to flock to.

There are a few ways to attract the tech crowd, and good coffee is just one of them. Reliable, free WiFi is another. I know Coupa Cafe has deliberately turned off WiFi on weekdays in the past to discourage students/tech folks from camping out. I do not know if Coupa continues this practice.

On the contrary, Red Rock in Mountain View has reliable WiFi every day, plus the cafe has plentiful power outlets, especially upstairs which is full of startup types and students.

That said, we'll just have to wait and see who shows up.


7 people like this
Posted by Remaining question
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 18, 2015 at 10:30 am

Is the public going to be comfortable there or is it another pretend "public" gathering space.
We have enough fake "gathering places" where the design makes the public is unwelcome. Ever tried gathering at the corner of Homer and High? the restaurant built barriers to the public, and the city does not enforce.


22 people like this
Posted by Mr.Recycle
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 18, 2015 at 10:37 am

@resident, @Perspectives - i feel like you guys aren't reading the article. "Shirole stressed that while the cafe is geared toward the innovation community, it is open for everyone." Everyone. So go, and bring your kids. If you stay home and complain about it online, then you will cede the space.


5 people like this
Posted by other options
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 18, 2015 at 10:48 am

Metropolitan Theatres Corp based in LA operates the historic Arlington Theatre in Santa Barbara,the sister of the Varsity in Palo Alto and it is the largest theatre and performing arts venue in SB. Were they offered the Varsity in PA for purchase or to manage?


13 people like this
Posted by Perspectives
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 18, 2015 at 10:52 am

Perspectives is a registered user.

@ Jay Park- Thanks for your thoughts. I can see what you're saying in terms of what SAP is trying to do.

I just don't understand the upfront labeling of the new cafe as "for high-tech innovators". It comes across as very exclusionary in my opinion.

Not sure what's wrong with the traditional "if you build it they will come" approach. Why make it clear out of the gate that mothers with a young child aren't really welcome? Of course, things come out in the wash eventually with these types of places-- it becomes obvious which spaces are more welcoming to certain crowds and self-selection takes root. Nothing wrong with that for a business. They have the right to aim for certain clientele. Just seems like an odd approach to claim something is open to the public but be quite clear that a certain group shouldn't really bother coming even before you open.

I can tell you that I would not feel at all comfortable checking out the place and "using up a table" if I were a young mother with a 2 year old, an elderly man walking around for a morning stroll, or a family out for an afternoon. I would also feel a little condescended to- even if I were a young 20/30 something- if I worked in retail and wanted to sit there and work on my taxes instead of tech-innovations....

Not everything in Palo Alto needs to be surgically attached to "high-tech innovators". I am confident they find places to work and get coffee around here.


11 people like this
Posted by Perspectives
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 18, 2015 at 10:58 am

Perspectives is a registered user.

@Mr Recycle- I did read the article. I know the space is open to the public and I know everyone has a right to go there. And I've tried to explain my thinking beyond that, which I hope you read.

I'm not planning on staying home and complaining online- I will check it out. I don't see myself as complaining online, but expressing my thoughts on how this public space is being put to use, as that is what forums like this are often used for.

I'm happy the space is being used, as I said. I'd rather see it used for high-tech innovators than sit there and end up derelict. I do have thoughts though on how I wish it were more welcoming to the broader community. Nothing wrong with that. I hope the space succeeds in whatever fashion it can bring business and joy to people.


15 people like this
Posted by Honor
a resident of another community
on Mar 18, 2015 at 11:01 am

Honor is a registered user.

…Yea!! What's all of the fuss about? Its a public space/enterprise for heaven's sake!! Why such an uproar about the establishment being "geared" for teens?!! As an old fogey I plan to enjoy what the place has to offer. Who's going to kick me out?!!


10 people like this
Posted by neighbor
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Mar 18, 2015 at 11:17 am

From the article: Shirole stressed that while the cafe is geared toward the innovation community, it is open for everyone.

What I take from that is that they designed the space is designed to encourage collaborative discussion and meetings while everyone enjoys a meal. Significant innovations have emerged from many informal discussions in Palo Alto restaurants; this effort facilitates it more specifically through space design.

I didn't see anything limiting the goal to only tech innovations -- it could be innovation focused on social justice, education, parenting, sustainability, or fighting the ridiculous high speed rail project.

Sounds like a great idea. Can't wait to check it out.


6 people like this
Posted by Jay Park
a resident of Mountain View
on Mar 18, 2015 at 11:19 am

@Perspectives:

Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

I am not a "tech innovator" type, however I personally won't have any qualms in walking into the space to check it out, purely out of curiosity's sake.

I think SAP used the "innovator" as a convenient buzzword; the space is also designed for things like poetry slams, music performances amongst other things, so innovation here also includes artistic endeavors. That widens the audience considerably. Notably, they chose to include a student jazz band from a local high school for the inaugural evening.

I'd love see what sort of musical events are booked at the site as there are very few venues in downtown Palo Alto these days that feature live music.

These types of venues are more inviting and less of a monoculture when arts events are routinely scheduled. Red Rock, Dana Street, Cafe Borrone all have regular live music.


2 people like this
Posted by neighbor
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Mar 18, 2015 at 11:20 am

From the article: Shirole stressed that while the cafe is geared toward the innovation community, it is open for everyone.

What I take from that is that they designed the space to encourage collaborative discussion and meetings while everyone enjoys a meal. Significant innovations have emerged from many informal discussions in Palo Alto restaurants; this effort facilitates it more specifically through space design.

I didn't see anything limiting the goal to only tech innovations -- it could be innovation focused on social justice, education, parenting, sustainability, or fighting the ridiculous high speed rail project. Also didn't see anything about it being geared toward teens or 20-somethings, although I don't see a problem with either (and I'm old relatively speaking). The clientele will be who shows up, and that's open to everyone.

Sounds like a great idea. Can't wait to check it out.


4 people like this
Posted by Perspectives
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 18, 2015 at 11:34 am

Perspectives is a registered user.

Well, as Jay Park said above, we'll just have to see who shows up. Could be a nice surprise. And the music could indeed draw a more diverse crowd.

I've been open to hearing others' thoughts on this and I've become more optimistic the cafe won't be as exclusionary as I initially have feared, so thank you to those who provided respectful discourse. (Proof that Town Hall here doesn't have to always be people snarking about and maintaining their views just for the sake of arguing)



5 people like this
Posted by mjs
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Mar 18, 2015 at 11:41 am

Perspectives, I understand and share your sentiments exactly. The "geared toward local innovators" certainly implies high tech people, even if not excluding others, but it is off-putting, even if mainly a marketing idea.


7 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 18, 2015 at 11:41 am

Is the label "cafe" just a cover up for adding more commercial space to the building? Will the so called cafe be just an excuse for more office space? Will the cafe be just people working on their computers in an open environment, instead of in cubicles? I hope Palo Altans frequent the cafe and don't allow the commercialization of the space be hijacked by work stations.


8 people like this
Posted by Office Park
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 18, 2015 at 12:09 pm

Why am I getting the feeling that this "café" is just an open air office area for SAP, that just happens to sell coffee. I imagine SAP will make the space intimidating and uncomfortable for the residents. It will be interesting to see the configuration of the tables and chairs. Will pedestrians feel welcome? Fat chance. I bet the naive city staff and city council has been tricked, yet again, by a developer and a company. Have developers found another way to add more office space to their new, monster commercial buildings, by extending the office space to the outside? Palo Alto is quickly becoming an office park.


13 people like this
Posted by OpenMInd
a resident of Los Altos
on Mar 18, 2015 at 12:19 pm

I went to their Opening yesterday and the place is lovely. The cafe part is geared to all the community. They have changing tables for babies in the bathrooms and an array of delicious coffe drinks, juices, pastries and food.
It is only one section that will geared for the student/worker with a laptop.
Don't judge it before you visit it. I predict it will be the new go to place for fantastic coffee and a bite to eat on a charming setting.


8 people like this
Posted by Scholar
a resident of Menlo Park
on Mar 18, 2015 at 12:24 pm

How much for a coffee?


5 people like this
Posted by Jay Park
a resident of Mountain View
on Mar 18, 2015 at 12:31 pm

@Office Park:

The photos that accompany this article show a few of the cafe spaces. The courtyard itself looks very typical and harkens back to the Borders Bookstore era.

It appears the cafe occupies the old foyer/lobby; again, photos show a pleasant cafe-life environment.

But don't just trust my word on it. Go look at the photos themselves.

Also, try some Instagram photos (tagged #hanahaus and #varsitytheatre respectively.

Web Link

Web Link

Looks very pleasant, I'm certain I'll drop in someday soon.


1 person likes this
Posted by Norman
a resident of Menlo Park
on Mar 18, 2015 at 2:37 pm

Tear this eyesore down. I'd bet that less than 10% of current Palo Alto residents saw a movie there. Historical value? What a joke.

It's fitting that old world SAP is using this venue whereas futuristic and successful Apple has a trend setting place on the same street. An old saying holds that you cannot not make a Hershey bar out of cow manure.


13 people like this
Posted by Jay Park
a resident of Mountain View
on Mar 18, 2015 at 3:10 pm

@Norman:

The theater is a piece of Palo Alto history. I think it's worth preserving since Palo Alto doesn't have Gothic cathedrals, Baroque royal palaces, or a fortress that protected Palo Alto from the 11th century Norman invasion.

It provided countless people hours of great entertainment and likely served as a venue in Palo Alto for films such as Gone with the Wind, Casablanca, and Citizen Zane during their initial releases.


11 people like this
Posted by xPA
a resident of another community
on Mar 18, 2015 at 4:32 pm

Finally, Palo Alto has a place where innovators, disrupters, and influencers can share learnings as they swill Blue Bottle drinks and munch on heritage bacon. The hourly cover charge should keep the high school students at Philz and maintain the integrity of a cafe with a mission statement. Thank you Hanahous for reminding me why I recently left Palo Alto after 23 years.


10 people like this
Posted by mauricio
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 18, 2015 at 6:14 pm

mauricio is a registered user.

It just highlights the fact that those who aren't techies are excluded. It reminds me of the contrived Palantir temper tantrum before the city council a few months ago: the dismissive attitude toward the older Palo Alto residents, history and tradition, the world belongs to the techies. 456 University Ave is an important part of Palo Alto's history and lure, and the one thing that shouldn't go in there is a hangout for techies.


8 people like this
Posted by SAP doubletalk
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 18, 2015 at 6:46 pm

There wouldn't be so much speculation if SAP didn't put out so much doubletalk. People are quite right to question its use.
This is from their website Web Link

BOOKING SYSTEM 0pen seating
Single Seat
Single seats available either on tables or lounge-style furniture in a variety of configurations. Sit anywhere and move around as you please to collaborate, work, and to learn. . YOU PAY FOR YOUR BOOKING WHEN YOU GET TO HANAHAUS. . . For now, all Open seating is FREE! But don't forget to make a reservation. Since there is limited Open seating, please be considerate and book no more than a couple of hours at a time.


3 people like this
Posted by Jay Park
a resident of Mountain View
on Mar 18, 2015 at 7:26 pm

@SAP doubletalk:

A penny per hour for a single seat? Heck, I'd pay ten, no a *hundred* times that for a guaranteed seat on Caltrain to Giants games!


5 people like this
Posted by Mr.Recycle
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 18, 2015 at 9:43 pm

@SAP doubletalk - You buy food or drink and sit for free, or pay to hang out. Imagine it is called Peets, but is in an old theater, and called Hanahaus. No need for speculation.


15 people like this
Posted by Sharon
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 18, 2015 at 10:43 pm

Another B O R I N G yuppie style hangout where people sit stone faced staring 8nto their computer screens....

Yuk


3 people like this
Posted by Great Addition
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 19, 2015 at 12:52 am

I was at the soft opening yesterday, as a guest of a SAP employee. This is a great addition to Palo Alto. It is essentially a large Blue Bottle cafe with meeting areas and conference rooms, sponsored by SAP. The best example of this would be the Capitol One 360 cafe downtown San Francisco (Web Link). Its a place to stop by and use the free wireless, meet with your start up colleagues or hold a business meeting, if you do not have access to formal office space and enjoy some food and coffee. And yes, moms with kids will feel just as welcome as if they are at the University Coffee Cafe. This is a great way for SAP to brush up its stodgy image, (they will have someone there to answer questions about the company and its products) and for their employees to network. And best of all we get access to Blue Bottle coffee. Its a great win-win for the city and University Avenue. The upstairs area belongs to Samsung, which is setting up their "Idea Lab" and sharing the lease. This is an idea in progress, and the initial intent is not to put SAP labels all over the place but to increase SAPs presence downtown on University Avenue, where so many of our techies network, hangout, look for work and connect. Free wifi, great food and coffee and a tasteful renovation. I look forward to hanging out there occasionally.


4 people like this
Posted by jaa
a resident of University South
on Mar 19, 2015 at 2:38 am

What ever happened to good old dive bars, a regular cup a joe, some pool tables, pinball and a juke box. If you must innovate, please do something useful and perhaps draw up a few plans for a local desalination plant. We're in a serious drought here, folks. Cheers!


5 people like this
Posted by Sea Reddy
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 19, 2015 at 6:09 am

it is a great thing1

WE NEED COLLABORATION space.

This will allow us to INNOVATE!

All ney sayers, please refrain and watch it produce great results.

Respectfully


1 person likes this
Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Mar 19, 2015 at 1:36 pm

Meeting space during the day. At night hangout space or how about free family movies, free music or open mike in the evenings.

Larger groups might have to book a table but the casual user not so much.


7 people like this
Posted by neighbor
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Mar 20, 2015 at 11:05 am

This blog is interesting reading. Am fascinated by so much nay-saying before the cafe even opens or before people have had a chance to visit. Why make so many negative assumptions about who is/who is not welcome and how the space will be utilized? Lots of energy can be wasted on always assuming the worst.


Like this comment
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 20, 2015 at 3:53 pm

@ Garret - good idea...but who funds it?


5 people like this
Posted by SAP doubletalk
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 20, 2015 at 4:09 pm

> Why make so many negative assumptions about who is/who is not welcome and how the space will be utilized? <
Because we have been fooled so many times, it is hard to believe that a mega corporation is really doing something for the public good. Maybe you havent looked at the many promised "public spaces" round town. They are rarely public. It will be a very pleasant surprise if any of the ideas people write about are implemented.

What do they mean "reserve a seat", and "you pay for your booking when you get to Hannahouse"

Someone asked, how much is a cup of coffee? Well, how much?


Like this comment
Posted by Mr.Recycle
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 20, 2015 at 6:41 pm

@SAP doubletalk - $3-4 for coffee, depending on what kind you choose. $3 for an espresso, $3 for tea, $4.25 for a latte.


1 person likes this
Posted by OPar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 21, 2015 at 2:21 am

Dropped by tonight. Front area and outdoor areas look like traditional cafe seating. The bottom floor of what was Borders or the sitting area of the old Varsity is the rent-a-chair section (though it was free tonight) and seems like a good area to meet people, do the pre-start-up thing.

While I personally would prefer a theatre or a bookstore, I think this sort of place is useful and offers an alternative to people setting up shop in the local cafes for hours on end, nursing a lone coffee. This place formalizes (for $3 an hour) what people already do.

As for teens--this is the downtown. I'm not sure I see some crying need for a teen-oriented place there. We have teen rooms at both Mitchell Park and Rinconada library complexes. Teens are, of course, welcome to come here as they are at any other place.

I'm glad the bottom floor of the Varsity continues to be a public space.


1 person likes this
Posted by member
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 21, 2015 at 8:32 am

The place is nice, but I can't see it lasting w/o an permanent SAP subsidy, which is unlikely. Did SAP buy or lease this property?

The Blue Bottle cafe is more spacious than in SF. But I noticed that there may be a PA premium over SF. A macchiato coffee is $0.25 more in PA than I recall paying at Blue Bottle's SF Ferry Bldg. cafe.

If SAP leases the property, I don't see a small premium on cafe items and "pay to hang out/meet" space coming anywhere near lease costs. A generous subsidy and on-going patience for the subsidy cost appears necessary.

Leased or owned outright by SAP, I give it a few years run that will last until SAP enters a more frugal phase.


Like this comment
Posted by OPar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 21, 2015 at 2:23 pm

I'm pretty sure it's a lease. I assume the bottom public area is a way off-setting the conversion of the upstairs into offices.

And, yes, I don't think it will be forever. But, who knows, some businesses do last a surprisingly long time. I mean Anthropologie is away from the main drag and not at the shopping center, but I think it does quite well--people go there as a destination and take advantage of there actually being parking.


3 people like this
Posted by Jay Park
a resident of Mountain View
on Mar 21, 2015 at 4:39 pm

SAP and Samsung lease space at the Varsity Theatre. The property is owned by developer Chop Keenan.

Palo Alto Online article from July 2014: Web Link

I confirm Mr. Recycle's beverage pricing; the basic espresso is three bucks. I bought a $3.75 cappuccino today. Yes, that's seventy-five cents more than a cappuccino at Coupa, although I'd say the one at Blue Bottle is tastier. Worth the extra $0.75? Well, customers will ultimately cast the final vote.

As mentioned above the "rent-a-seat" space occupies the old theatre seating section, where Borders' merchandise was displayed. Clearly a sizable chunk of money was used in the renovations to create conference rooms (which don't appear to be ready yet), etc. The quoted rate is $3/hour for a seat but that was crossed out with an erasable marker and "free today" was scrawled in when I dropped by around noon.

There's free WiFi although you need to register for access. I have a secondary e-mail address for these sort of things. The speed is 20 megabits/second both for downloading and uploading. Not bad for a freebie.

I didn't sit in the "rent-a-seat" section (about half occupied), but chose to enjoy the wonderful weather and courtyard (most tables occupied).

Sure, there were many tech types (especially in the "rent-a-seat" section), but lots of people just enjoying themselves.

I'm sure I'll go back. It's a nice spot (particularly the courtyard in good weather) and yes, the coffee is good.


Like this comment
Posted by other options
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 22, 2015 at 9:54 pm

It is wonderful that the iconic building is open once again for people to experience and enjoy. It's been a lost asset to Palo Alto for so many years. It is beautiful and historic and is so important to the fabric of the Downtown and just reminds us once again of how this City has turned its
back on preservation of the character of our city, the Downtown, the neighborhoods and how much has been lost. That said, the courtyard at the
Varsity looks sterile and needs some detail. It too looks like a work space-a tech take-over of the Varsity. Maybe some tiles around the fountain, a planter, a couple nice pieces of furniture instead of what looks like a
card table at the front off University, and some nice looking chairs and tables would make it a more inviting public space.






1 person likes this
Posted by other options
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 23, 2015 at 11:25 am

Stopped by for a latte at Blue Bottle. It was good with very friendly
and quick service. The simplicity of the courtyard can work in this
monumental historic setting but it needs some detail, some color. Maybe
some tile work around the fountain.


Like this comment
Posted by LadanM
a resident of Menlo Park
on Apr 28, 2015 at 1:40 pm

I just went there and it is very comfortable to just get coffee and sit, as any cafe. There is plenty of indoor and outdoor sitting for the cafe. The section that used to be for books and had the staircase, at the old Borders, is the co-working space. Planning to try that too. I like it so far.


4 people like this
Posted by Kein Problem, aber....,..
a resident of Southgate
on Apr 28, 2015 at 1:47 pm

The coffee is great, but sitting indoors seems to be discouraged, even when trying to work, which I was.

This would be okay, except that the outdoor area is too hot and has no shade. What happens when winter returns????


Like this comment
Posted by Slow Down
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 29, 2015 at 12:08 am

Slow Down is a registered user.

How did they discourage you sitting indoors? Is there no free seat even with a purchase now?


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