Construction on midtown Palo Alto's new Bill's Cafe suffers a setback, while Urban Style barbershop offers clients an old-school vibe.
BILL'S CAFE HITS A SNAG ... The much-anticipated opening of Bill's Cafe had a major setback when Palo Alto officials discovered the site was being renovated without a permit. The breakfast-and-lunch restaurant, originally scheduled to open its doors in June, ceased all construction in early May. "The building inspector came out on May 4 and put a 'stop work' order out," said Palo Alto Development Center Manager Rosemary Morse. As a result, the midtown site at 3163 Middlefield Road has sat idle ever since. But there has been a recent development. "They just submitted a permit to us on Aug. 12 with their plans, and hopefully it will be approved in four to six weeks," Morse said, adding, "We really want to be able to help them out." A peek through the front window of Bill's Cafe shows a nearly completed restaurant. Booths and tables are all neatly in place, and salt and pepper shakers are on each table. Condiment bottles line the shelves. One industry source posited that since the site had already operated as a restaurant in the past (as Pommard Deli and Fandango Pizza), perhaps Bill's Cafe owners thought they didn't need a permit to do work. "But this is Palo Alto; you don't do anything without a permit," he said. There are five Bill's Cafes in San Jose and one in Pleasanton; the first opened in San Jose in 1977. The restaurants are known for their traditional American breakfasts. Attempts to reach the management at Bill's Cafe in Palo Alto were unsuccessful.
A HIP CLIP IN MIDTOWN ... Terry Parks is a humble man. The owner of Urban Style, a barbershop that opened two years ago with little fanfare, Parks has quietly built up an enviable clientele in his tucked-away midtown Palo Alto location. "Most people can't even find it on their first try," he admitted. The shop's address is 719 Colorado Ave., but it can only be accessed around the corner, from the parking lots behind Starbucks or the Wells Fargo ATM. A walk through the front door is a walk back in time. "If people come in expecting a trendy hair salon, they're going to be disappointed," Parks said. Modestly decorated with sports posters, the small shop has an old-fashioned feel. Prices for hair cuts range from $15 to $22. "We don't charge outrageous prices," Parks noted, "but it's the vibe, the conversations that keep them coming back." There is very little traditional advertising for the six-chair shop. "It's almost all word of mouth," Parks said. The shop has six master barbers, Parks explained. "Five of our barbers are black; one is Hispanic. But our clientele is every color, every age, every group. Too bad the rest of the world isn't like this. If it were, we'd all get along." Perhaps most impressive is the list of athletes and performers who come in regularly. Parks is reluctant to name names. "We get a few 49ers in here; a few rappers too," he said. "But we treat them like everyone else. Nobody gets special treatment." Parks' goal was to create a local, neighborhood barbershop with a homey feel, "and I think I've got that," he said. "It's real comfortable here. People stick around just to talk."
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