ShopTalk: The Clement opens, Paris Baguette booms

New hotel is exclusive, luxurious-- and expensive

In this week's retail news in Palo Alto: Opulent boutique hotel The Clement opens, and downtown bakery Paris Baguette finds big success.

OPULENCE ON EL CAMINO ... Last week's opening of Palo Alto's newest, smallest and most expensive hotel represents a new wave of opulence on El Camino Real. The Clement, 711 El Camino Real, is unlike other hotels in this city. It does not have a lobby; it has a living room. It does not have a restaurant; it has a dining room. And the front doors of the hotel are always locked. The dissimilarities are intentional. "We want our guests to feel as if they're staying in the mansion of a friend, and we are the staff of the estate," hotel general manager Sebastian Stacey said. Additionally, guests are free to roam around the hotel's kitchen, which looks pretty much like a typical kitchen in a Palo Alto home -- albeit slightly larger. "It is a fully-stocked, communal kitchen," Stacey said. A considerable amount of work has gone into making the 23-suite hotel situated next to Palo Alto Medical Foundation both exclusive and luxurious. Fresh orchids, bonsai trees, personalized stationery and a tiny Zen garden are found in every room. The high-class touches even extend into the guest bathroom, or more specifically, the toilet, which comes with its own remote control and boasts options including a heated seat, customizable bidet, built-in dryer and air freshener. The bathroom comes with a second remote: one to control the television which is embedded in the mirror over the vanity. Introductory rates for a one-night stay start at $800, which is all-inclusive, but will be raised to $1,000 or more soon, according to Stacey. So who was the hotel's first paying guest? It's not likely that information will ever be revealed. According to Stacey, "We put a high value on our guest's privacy."

DOWNTOWN BAKERY BOOMS ... Silicon Valleyites love their baked goods -- so much so that they have helped make Paris Baguette in Palo Alto one of the bakery chain's top producing stores in California. "Our Palo Alto store is a showstopper," said Larry Sidoti, Paris Baguette's Chief Development Officer. "When we tell our story, it's one of the stores we point to." As Paris Baguette enters its sixth year at 383 University Ave., on the corner of Waverley Street, Sidoti says that particular location is a big advantage. "In the real estate world, you want a corner just like that," he said." Sidoti considers the success of the Palo Alto store "pivotal in proving that we can reach customers of all ethnicities and ethnic origins. Previous to opening in Palo Alto, our customers had been Korean-dominated, but Palo Alto changed all that." Paris Baguette is an international bakery brand featuring French-inspired recipes. It started in 1988 in Korea and now has 3,700 locations worldwide, 45 of which are in the U.S. Northern California has 11 of the bakeries, and more are on the way. "We're working on deals right now adjacent to Palo Alto," Sidoti said, but because the company is in the midst of negotiations, he declined to comment further. However, a second location in Palo Alto is not out of the question. "We may decide at some point to open another store in Palo Alto; there are a few parts of the city that would be conducive, possibly even the Stanford campus," Sidoti said.

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

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41 people like this
Posted by jaa
a resident of University South
on Apr 10, 2016 at 11:26 pm

If this is not a "Let them eat cake" moment, I don't know what is. Some of us live in constant fear that we could lose our rental housing to luxury developers, not to mention already absurd rate increases. One of my friends lost her beloved small business of many years to luxury housing developers, just recently. A single Mom raising teenagers. A good, wonderful hard working person. We piece together every available resource we have to make high medical premiums, co-pays and deductibles just to be able to see a doctor at all at the medical foundation. Now the wealthy can pay $1,000.00 per night for exclusive housing just to get their flu shot, if they want. I just read recently where a 92 year-old gentleman, a veteran of World War ll, may lose his housing of 18 years and possibly face homelessness next door in Menlo Park. He donned a uniform and fought for our country and he is 92 years old! Now this? Finally, since when did University Avenue become "the real estate world"? I'll just buy my cinnamon rolls pre-packaged across the street, thank you very much.

28 people like this
Posted by Que Pasa?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 11, 2016 at 8:09 am

Palo Alto has too many hotels--way, way more than are needed. Time to put a stop to the nonsense and STOP building unneeded luxury hotels and START building more condos in the BMR price range.

13 people like this
Posted by Que Pasa ?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 11, 2016 at 8:25 am

[Post removed.]

12 people like this
Posted by Chris
a resident of University South
on Apr 11, 2016 at 11:13 am

What is the basis for your conclusion that Palo Alto has too many hotels?

17 people like this
Posted by Mama
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 11, 2016 at 11:54 am

I no longer go to Paris Baguette, and it had been my favorite place for takeout and on-site lunch. They prepared fresh and delicious sandwiches to order. Recently they made a change and now they just have premade fare in a case. Yuck.
Really a shame. This place now is just an automat.

11 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto Native
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 11, 2016 at 1:39 pm

Just don't live here if you have to be living in fear of losing rental housing. It's not worth it. Palo Alto isn't THAT great. There are plenty of neighboring cities which are fine - people's egos just can't handle living elsewhere. Health issues or unemployment can sneak up from around a corner - people need to save money when they can.

15 people like this
Posted by Spade
a resident of University South
on Apr 11, 2016 at 7:03 pm

I have to agree that Paris Baguette has changed for the worse. It used to be clean, make great fresh sandwiches ( especially the veggie, it was THICK), but management or ownership changed.

[Portion removed.]

I used to love this place, but something has gone very wrong. I think it only looks like Paris Baguette is full because they took away some of the seating.

5 people like this
Posted by Observer
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 11, 2016 at 7:13 pm

Palo Alto Native - that's a great point. I know many people who have left Palo Alto due to rising rents and found good homes in places like Antioch, Gilroy, and Tracy, where they can commute to their jobs on the Peninsula. Aside from not having time to see their families, it's a win for everyone - they can afford to stay in the Bay Area and keep their jobs and Palo Alto schools get fewer kids.

It's definitely a win for the people left in Palo Alto - we're almost as exclusive as Atherton or Malibu now. Palo Alto wasn't nearly as exclusive when I arrived as it is now. It's so exclusive now that I couldn't possibly have afforded it if I were buying today.

1 person likes this
Posted by Igotmyirishgirl
a resident of Stanford
on Apr 11, 2016 at 9:07 pm

Fantastic assortment of fresh pastries with fruit that was tasty at Paris Baguette. The pastry chef recommended the fresh fruit and cream cake which I too home to Sacramento to share with my mates.

Palo Alto is one cool place to visit. I plan on spending much more time in this beautiful town full of friendly and responsible people who know how to live in harmony. I met a woman who's lived in Palo Alto for quite a while and is fortunate to enjoy such a nice and warm community. Yes indeed!

11 people like this
Posted by Brigitte
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 11, 2016 at 10:57 pm

I tried Paris Baguette once and never went back. The name is very misleading as they do not sell authentic parisian pastry. The pastry I tried tasted like it was made with buttered flavored crisco. Very disappointing. The Prolific Oven, although not as good as it was when it first opened in the 80's, serves much better pastries.

12 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto Native
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 11, 2016 at 11:55 pm

@Observer: That's exactly the ego I'm suggesting - the all-or-nothing attitude, where if they cannot live in Palo Alto, they have to live in Gilroy or Tracy. Both of us know that there are other affordable areas nearby. I grew up in Palo Alto, left for 20 years and returned in 2007 to buy a Palo Alto house, so I'm not living off a 1970s mortgage. We had a few financially lean years at first, but we knew it would be temporary. There is no way we would rent in Palo Alto - we would move elsewhere and buy a house, even if it meant a longer commute. Exclusivity? Palo Alto cannot house everyone who wants to live here. Sure, I would love to live in one of the Old Palo Alto mansions, but it's just not possible, so we bought what we could afford. And let me enlighten you that raising children here isn't cheap - tutoring costs $45-$90/hour, extracurriculars cost money, and unless your child can attend a CA state school ($14,000 tuition), college is up to $60,000 tuition per year. What kind of quality of life is it when one is pinching pennies to pay the mortgage/rent and worrying about rent being raised and having to relocate the family? On top of that, not saving for an emergency or the future. I thank my lucky stars that I can afford to live here, but if we could not afford it, we would move elsewhere. Are you renting out rooms to people in need? If you were to sell your house, would you sell it for $300,000 instead of $1.8 million so you can help out some family who cannot afford the market price? If your answer is no, then you are contributing to the "problem" you think exists.

8 people like this
Posted by Huh?
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 12, 2016 at 9:18 pm

Why does everyone think Palo Altans all work in town? My husband commutes to S.F. No difference than someone commuting to Palo Alto from elsewhere.

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

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