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Shop Talk: Palo Alto Breakfast House closes and more

This week's retail news

PALO ALTO BREAKFAST HOUSE GONE; GLUTEN-FREE BAKERY TO OPEN IN MIDTOWN ... When the Palo Alto Breakfast House opened in Palo Alto's Midtown three years ago, it was heralded by neighbors as a shrewd business decision. There was a paucity of restaurants in the area that served morning meals. Peninsula restaurateur Tom Hsu acknowledged that void in the Midtown area and acted on the opportunity. "I didn't see a lot of places for breakfast in the neighborhood," he said at that time, so he opened the Palo Alto Breakfast House, 2706 Middlefield Road. Serving only breakfast and lunch, the small, unpretentious restaurant attracted the morning crowd and the little restaurant quickly established a brisk business. This was Hsu's second venture. The first, My Breakfast House in San Carlos, was already a going concern. But few could have predicted that two years later, a well established San Jose restaurant chain, also serving only breakfast and lunch, would move into Midtown, just four blocks from Hsu's Palo Alto restaurant. Bill's Cafe, 3163 Middlefield Road, opened its doors in November 2015. The location, just steps away from the popular Philz Coffee at the corner of Middlefield Road and Loma Verde Avenue, along with its reputation earned in the South Bay, helped fuel the chain's popularity in Palo Alto. Although Hsu could not be reached for comment, Midtown insiders consider the success of Bill's Cafe proved too much competition for the smaller Breakfast House, and the restaurant closed in April. Hsu's former business partner, Kakey Chang, who now is the sole owner of My Breakfast House in San Carlos, said she will gladly honor all unused gift certificates issued by Palo Alto Breakfast House.

But wait. With the dust barely settled from the closing of Hsu's Palo Alto restaurant on Middlefield Road, there's already a new business preparing to open in the space. The name, however, is a bit of a conundrum. There were initially two signs on the building; one of them was Miss Jones (GF) Bake Shop, which was removed earlier this week, and the other, Pied Piper, is still there, which HBO viewers may recognize as the fictitious startup in the television series, "Silicon Valley". The actual name of the establishment, when it opens, is reportedly Gracie Jones Gluten Free Bake Shop, according to a local source.

A June 17 report from a city code enforcement officer identifies the business owners as Chuck Imersom and Chad Newton from Asian Box, the health-conscious "fast-casual" restaurant at Town & Country. Coincidentally, the name "Miss Jones" that appeared on one of the signs is a menu item at Asian Box.

Asian Box founder and CEO Frank Klein said business partner and executive chef Grace Nguyen is opening a gluten-free bakery in 60 days.

More details as they become available.

SEVENTY YEARS AND COUNTING ... As Edwards Luggage prepares to celebrate its 70th year in the Bay Area, it has rebranded itself as Edwards Everything Travel and is offering free packing demonstrations next month at its Stanford Shopping Center store. The family-owned-and-operated business opened in the Stanford mall in 1956, following a 10-year run in both downtown Palo Alto and San Mateo. The packing demonstrations are scheduled for July 6 at 6 p.m.and July 23 at 10 a.m. "Our business is proudly woven into the fabric of our family life. Each family member lives in Palo Alto or Portola Valley and is hands on ... in the buying, marketing and sales training," store co-owner Mary Reininger said.

Got leads on interesting and news-worthy retail developments? Daryl Savage will check them out. Email shoptalk@paweekly.com. Associate Editor Linda Taaffe contributed to this column.

Comments

3 people like this
Posted by JLN
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jun 25, 2016 at 4:41 pm

JLN is a registered user.

I also enjoyed Breakfast House, but it's utter lack of ambience made it vulnerable to a more sophisticated place like Bill's Cafe, where food, service and ambience dominated.


10 people like this
Posted by Plane Speaker
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 27, 2016 at 2:28 am

I loved Palo Alto Breakfast House when they first opened. The wait staff
were great and the food was very good and reasonably priced.

I would still be going there in preference to Bill's if they have kept up their
quality, but the service got sloppy, the food got worse. Finally I wondered,
why am I going here? The staff soon seemed to not care about their jobs,
so I suspect they were not being paid adequately. Food got cheaper.
They started toasting the salad toast on one side?

I stopped going. I don't go more often to Bill's, although Bill's is more
comfortable there is less food selection and the last time i was there the
salads were not as good.

I am sorry to see PABH go, but no, you can't blame PABH's closing on Bill's,
they did it to themselves. They also never did a anything to make it more
pleasant in there such as put some kind of sound absorption on the walls.


8 people like this
Posted by My cup of Tea
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 27, 2016 at 12:45 pm

We went to MBH when it opened...it was noisy but food was good. We stopped going because we also found it too noisy, and service was offhand. Finally we were served a substandard meal, and received only rudeness when we objected(politely). So we stopped going. This is the 4th place where we have stopped going to because of rudeness....we are wondering if this is cultural difference that we should get used to, or stick to our guns? We go to Bills regularly, love their service, and the fact they recognise us as valued customers, love it that we can get a beer at 7.30 in the morning, as this is when we are getting off from our night work so "dinnertime' for us.


6 people like this
Posted by Office, not Bakery
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 15, 2016 at 5:51 pm

Big Box Catering by Asian Box has replaced the Breakfast House. Big Box Catering is the corporate office for all Asian Box stores! How did they get away with that in Midtown? Yes, they do cook in the kitchen and provide catering services. But this is not "retail" that serves the neighborhood like its neighbor restaurant Indochine. This is business to business catering in the back kitchen with mostly office space in the front. Per the PA Comprehensive Plan guidelines for Neighborhood Commercial spaces in Midtown, doesn't this violate City Land Use Codes? I saw no obvious evidence of a Gluten Free Bake Shop.


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