Shop Talk: Dualitas offers exotic ware, Coupa Cafe opens second location

This week's retail news

COUPA TO OPEN SECOND DOWNTOWN CAFE ... The venerable Coupa Cafe will open its second location in downtown Palo Alto in a few weeks. Aiming for a late January-early February opening, the family-owned cafe, which is known for its Venezuelan coffee, is moving into the Survey Monkey building, 111 Lytton Ave., at the corner of Alma Street. The 1,500-square-foot-space will be much like the original Coupa at 538 Ramona, says Coupa owner Nancy Coupal. "It will have the same warm feel, but it will be very modern. It's brand new. And some of the foods we'll be serving are a little different," she said, adding, "Since we'll be right across from the train station, we're gearing it toward fast-food service for the train passengers." There will also be a small area set aside for outdoor seating. Following the upcoming soft opening of the new Coupa, a more elaborate grand opening is tentatively planned for March 7. "We chose that date because that's when we opened our first Coupa in Palo Alto 12 years ago. March 7 is a lucky date for us," she said. The new cafe on Lytton Street marks Coupa's seventh location in the Palo Alto area. "We have four self-service cafes on the Stanford campus, a fifth full-service one at the Stanford Golf Course, which also does catering, and the original Ramona Street location," she said. Coupa has also recently expanded, taking over the space next door at 536 Ramona St. "Our customers' greatest complaint was that there was not enough space at Coupa, and a quieter spot was needed," Coupal said. Seating capacity in the new area, unofficially referred to as "The Lounge," is 36 people. Coupal describes the expansion as homey and comfortable. "It's a mixture of metals and woods," she said. Coupal personally painted the walls a soothing blue, and decorated them with an assortment of burlap coffee bags from Venezuela. The space, owned by Coupa, is also available to rent out for private events and meetings, and replaces a former retail store that sold jewelry and women's accessories.

JEWELS AND SHAVING CREAM ... Of the numerous shops that have opened in Town & Country Village this past year, one of the more unusual entries is a one-of-a-kind jewelry store. Dualitas, which opened in November, offers a striking selection of handcrafted jewelry, as well a number of exotic items. The founders of Dualitas are a husband and wife team with vastly different backgrounds. Atiq Raza has had a long career in the semiconductor industry, while Nandini Saraiya Raza's experience was in fine jewelry for private clients. A visit inside the small Dualitas shop is a bit overwhelming. While the overall layout is on the minimal side, with earrings, bracelets, rings and necklaces dominating the shelves on the wall, it's the other merchandise -- the wide array of curated items from around the globe -- that sparks curiosity. For example, prominently displayed near the front door are several pairs of luxury sneakers from Paris, with one pair in gold-braided leather. Also on display is a box of high-end shaving cream and moisturizer for men, which contain ingredients called Horopito oil and Ponga fern extract. Who knew? And the plentiful collection of multicolored handmade soaps, which sit in an enormous glass vase on the floor, is stunning to observe. As for the jewelry at Dualitas, every gem is from Jaipur, India and has been handcrafted there, while the actual conceptualization and innovative design has been done in Palo Alto. "Beyond adornment, each piece includes stones that various cultures have believed hold various metaphysical qualities, which have a positive effect on the wearer," according to the store's website. "We're selling a lifestyle here," said store manager Holly Spence, who moved to the Bay Area from New Zealand just three months ago. "A lot of thought has gone into these products. And it works for Palo Alto," she said.

Got leads on interesting and news-worthy retail developments? Daryl Savage will check them out. Email shoptalk@paweekly.com.

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