Parking is getting tight in Midtown, and the opening of a new cafe may make matters worse.
PARKING PROBLEM BREWING IN MIDTOWN ... When Philz Coffee opened in Midtown Palo Alto at 3191 Middlefield Road seven years ago in its teeny tiny 600-square-foot spot, it was logical to think that the adjoining parking lot of 18 spaces -- along with street parking on Middlefield and an additional nearby parking lot with nearly 40 spaces -- would be more than adequate. But Palo Altans love their coffee, so much so that customer parking for Philz is creating a problem for the surrounding neighborhood. Particularly concerned are some residents from a condo complex located directly next to Philz, at 725 to 773 Loma Verde Ave. A large red sign was erected earlier this week on the condo property at the entrance to its driveway. "PRIVATE PROPERTY," it reads. "NO PHILZ PARKING." A Philz customer walking by commented on the sign. "It's not a very friendly sign, is it?" she noted. "It's rather bright, and all capital letters -- like it's yelling at you." The coffee shop has been in touch with a representative from the condo association about the parking problem. Philz spokesman Robert George said, "We don't have much control over our customers' behavior. People park where they can find a space. We have signs on our door that ask our customers to please be nice to our neighbors in terms of parking. We try to encourage street parking or bike riding." George also noted that 80 percent of Philz customers get their coffee to go. "That means that our customers are in and out in about 15 minutes or so," he said. Complicating the parking problem is the anticipated July opening of Bill's Cafe, which is moving into the former Pommard Delicatessen and Fandango Pizza spot. The new restaurant, which will be open for breakfast and lunch, and will seat 75 to 80 diners, is just steps away from Philz at 3163 Middlefield Road. If the overflowing parking lots of the five existing Bill's Cafes in San Jose are any indication of the restaurant's future success in Palo Alto, the parking problem is likely to continue. "People are already complaining about parking, and it's probably going to get worse once Bill's opens," said Michelle Apango, who works at the counter of AJ's Cleaners, located between Philz and Bill's. "The parking lot fills up real fast because of Philz, especially on the weekends," she said. But Bill's Cafe owner Nick Taptelis believes that since the Palo Alto restaurant is located in a residential neighborhood, "Mostly, people will be walking to Bill's, not driving," he said. "So I don't really see it as much of a problem."
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