ShopTalk: Pizza Studio, Polo Ralph Lauren close

Four Seasons Hotel plans first-ever communal dinner

Farewell to Pizza Studio and Polo Ralph Lauren; hello to more communal dinner options in Palo Alto.

GOODBYE, PIZZA STUDIO ... Both local Pizza Studios, in Palo Alto and Mountain View, suddenly closed for good last weekend. The design-your-own pizza eatery lasted about 15 months at 365 California Ave. in Palo Alto and was in business for about 18 months in Mountain View's San Antonio Center. Known for its quick conveyor-belt cooking method, which took only two minutes to bake a pizza, both closures surprised neighboring businesses. "They were open on Friday and closed on Saturday," said a California Avenue Starbucks employee who works next door to Pizza Studio. Identical notes were taped to the front doors of both the Palo Alto and the Mountain View locations, thanking customers for their patronage.

POLO RALPH LAUREN DEPARTS FROM STANFORD ... The Polo Ralph Laurenshop at the Stanford Shopping Center is gone. The doors behind the ornate, wrought-iron gate permanently closed on Jan. 16. The 13,000-square-foot iconic clothing store had been at the mall location for more than 25 years. "It was a natural lease expiration," said Stanford Shopping Center spokesperson Julie Kelly of the closing. "It's a perfect space for the right tenant and it will give us an opportunity to bring in a new and fresh option." Few shoppers could miss its dramatic entrance into the stately building: six large pillars framed the front door, which faced El Camino Real. Huge potted plants and furniture were placed throughout the building and its courtyard. Little time was wasted after the mid-January closing before trucks and moving vans cleared out the contents of the store. The Stanford shop is one of several Polo Ralph Lauren stores that were closed in the past few years. The only Polo Ralph Lauren remaining in the Bay Area is located on San Francisco's Fillmore Street. The closure follows an announcement last year that the Ralph Lauren company was undergoing a cost-saving reorganization effort. Stanford Shopping Center was also at one time home to another Ralph Lauren store, called Rugby; that store closed nearly five years ago. It was on the site where the Apple Store now stands.) No word yet on what will take over the polo store space.

COMMUNAL DINNERS ON THE RISE ... A touch of Italy is coming to East Palo Alto's Four Seasons Hotel at 2050 University Ave. Italian-born Marco Fossati, the hotel's executive chef, is planning the Four Seasons' first-ever communal dinner. "Guests will have an opportunity to mingle with the chef and his staff and enjoy a luxurious four-course dinner with amazing wine pairings," said hotel spokesperson Allison Tan. It will be an intimate evening with the chef himself interacting table-side, Tan said. The dinner, scheduled for Saturday, March 19, is limited to only 20 people. "We expect to fill up completely," Tan said. Depending on the response, the communal dinners could become regularly scheduled events. "We'll see how popular it gets," said Tan, who plans to block off an area of the hotel's Quattro restaurant to have one or two long tables for the family-style dinner. The carefully chosen menu for the communal "Milano Wine Dinner" reflects Fossati's Italian heritage. The first course, for example, includes hand-cut beef tartar. Tan said that this honors a personal tradition: When Fossati was a child in Italy, he accompanied his grandfather to the local butcher shop in Milan, where he chose only the finest beef to be sliced and minced. Other menu items include saffron risotto with 24-karat-leaf gold and breaded veal chop, served "old Milano style." The cost of the four-course dinner, which begins with a cocktail reception, is $250, excluding tax and tip. The Chef's Dinner at the Four Seasons is not the only communal-dining game in town. A little more than a mile away is another venue that has been serving communal-style chef events for nearly two years. The Garden Court HotelB , 520 Cowper St., offers a themed dinner every month. Officially called "520 Chef's Table," the evening accommodates approximately 24 diners seated at a long wooden table in a private space in the hotel. Executive Chef Clive Berkman interacts with the guests, who pay $69 (tax and tip extra) for the multi-course dinner with paired wines.

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

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10 people like this
Posted by We'll miss Pizza Studio
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jan 28, 2016 at 7:29 pm

Our family regularly patronized both the Palo Alto and Mountain View Pizza Studios. They were cheap, fast, reasonably good, and individually customizable. When you have one extremely picky eater in the family (on the autistic spectrum, where narrow food preferences are very common), you cherish every affordable restaurant you all agree on. We tried the Pieology at El Camino and Cambridge once, which is the same sort of place, but we didn't think it was nearly as good as Pizza Studio.

We actually tried to go to the one in MV on the very night it closed, and its sudden closure made me wonder if either the whole company went under, or it pulled out of the Bay Area market, maybe due to the high overhead. Internet research yielded no comment from the company at all, but there was one comment from another patron on the Facebook page of the MV location:

"Sad! Bay area locations are closed as of yesterday! I went to MountainView and Palo Alto to find the same note. A friend visited Los Gatos and it was the same. Sent an email to address on the door and was told they didn't sell enough pizza. Guessing it was the same franchise owner at all local locations. The nearest location is southern California."

The Pizza Studio Locations page indeed now lists no northern California locations. I hope the company makes it back here one of these years.

7 people like this
Posted by Nayeli P.
a resident of Midtown
on Jan 28, 2016 at 7:56 pm

Nayeli P. is a registered user.

Wow -- we will miss Pizza Studio! It was a great place to buy a pizza pie. In fact, we liked their food a little more than Pieology.

19 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 28, 2016 at 11:27 pm

Am I the only remaining Round Table fan?

11 people like this
Posted by Nayeli P.
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 1, 2016 at 10:29 am

Nayeli P. is a registered user.

@ musical - No way! I really like Round Table Pizza too! When we first moved to California, we wondered why we had never heard of it before. Their "primo pepperoni" on skinny crust is amazing!

4 people like this
Posted by Cal Ave. Neighbor
a resident of College Terrace
on Feb 1, 2016 at 10:35 am

Maybe Pizza Studio left California Avenue because they figured they'd be booted once the city planners figured out they were a chain. Hopefully a sweet "mom and pop" store like a nail salon or a karate studio will fill these space.

2 people like this
Posted by Chip
a resident of Professorville
on Feb 1, 2016 at 11:01 am

@ musical & nayeli p - I love Round Table too. Skinny crust anything is the best! I don't like the more commonly made thick, doughy, bread-like crusts.

5 people like this
Posted by Ho Chi
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Feb 1, 2016 at 12:13 pm

Like all small businesses, the city is making it difficult for them to stay.....restrictions on parking. Pretty soon Palo Alto will be a ghost town.

2 people like this
Posted by Michelle
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 1, 2016 at 9:25 pm

Eh, Pizza Studio was very mediocre. I will not miss it at all. Would be great to get a decent pho place on California.

3 people like this
Posted by office_fanatic
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 2, 2016 at 8:11 am

The Ralph Lauren space would make for some sick offices. For like an opulent fund, or VC., or PE firm.

Like this comment
Posted by WendyL
a resident of another community
on Feb 11, 2016 at 11:10 am

Thanks for the tip on Garden Court but you're about $100 off on the price!

Like this comment
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 11, 2016 at 12:26 pm

@WendyL, the Garden Court website Web Link currently says:

$65 per guest + 22% service fee + 8.75% CA state tax
= approximately $86 per guest (all inclusive)

No personal experience there, I'm just passing through...

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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