Shop Talk: Peninsula Hardware shutters, Calafia to serve breakfast daily

This week's retail news from the Palo Alto area

PENINSULA HARDWARE SAYS GOODBYE ... A longtime fixture of Palo Alto's Midtown neighborhood, Peninsula Hardware is closing. Gary Burke, whose family has owned the 63-year-old store for 52 years, decided to retire and attend to family matters, according to retail consultant Richard Rabb, who is helping Burke close the store, located at 2676 Middlefield Road. Burke sent a special invitation to customers and Midtown residents to an invite-only store-closing sale on Thursday, which will be followed by a sale for the public. Clearing out the store, including selling off furniture and all fixtures, will take about six weeks, Rabb said. Burke could not immediately be reached for comment, but in a letter to Midtown residents, he summed up his decision to shutter the business, which sold all kinds of items, from garden tools to odd-sized bolts. "My family and I are so grateful to be able to be a part of this wonderful community. But the time has come to focus on our family," the letters states. Peninsula Hardware opened in 1953. Bottle cappers, washtubs and meat grinders were big sellers, Burke said in a brief history published by the Midtown Residents Association. Burke's father, Allen, bought the store from its original owner in 1964. Burke started working there at age 13 and through high school, Rabb said. Charles Scott, a longtime Midtown resident who worked at the store for 26 years, said he was sad about the closure. "I spent a lot of time there," he said. "It's been a wonderful thing to be working there. The people I worked with there were wonderful people." Scott said one of the reasons the store is closing is because suppliers don't want to sell to small retailers like Peninsula Hardware, and he couldn't order the merchandise he needed.

-- S.D.

CALAFIA LAUNCHES DAILY BREAKFAST ... Calafia Cafe in Town & Country Village now serves breakfast daily. The restaurant, which emphasizes fresh, locally sourced, whole foods saw crowds increasing during its weekend brunches so it decided to take the plunge and open early on weekdays. "We saw how popular our weekend brunches were becoming," said Chandra Lama, Calafia's general manager. As for the weekday breakfast menu, Lama said, "We wanted to keep it simple." With only eight items on the breakfast menu, no argument there. The basics seem to be well-covered: eggs, bacon, toast, pancakes, hash browns -- it's actually all a bit reminiscent of another restaurant that was known for its breakfasts in Town & County, Cookbook. That restaurant, the family-style, comfort-food eatery, closed in 2005, following a successful 20-year run. It had been given a 30-day notice by Town & Country management in preparation for the major overhaul of the center.

-- D.S.

HERMES, CARTIER COMING TO STANFORD ... French luxury house Hermes and high-end jewelry and watch designer Cartier are coming to Stanford Shopping Center. Hermes, the family-run retailer that has manufactured luxury goods for six generations -- including the $300,000-plus Hermes Birkin mattee Himalayan crocodile handbag that has been billed as "the most valuable handbag in the world" -- will open a 6,000-square-foot store in the heart of the newly transformed shopping center, near Neiman Marcus. The store is set to open in late 2017 or early 2018. The Hermes Palo Alto boutique, which is the first new U.S. location for Hermes in more than five years, will offer a collection of men's, women's, home and equestrian collections. Cartier will open adjacent to the Hermes site this fall. The new Palo Alto boutique has been designed in-house to reflect the look and feel of French architect and designer Bruno Moinard, who is known for creating smart, modern interiors. He has designed 350 boutiques for Cartier, the Hermes headquarters and galleries in the Musee des Arts in France among other visible projects. Hermes and Cartier aren't the only new additions at Stanford. Alex and Ani and Anthropologie are set to open their doors later this fall, and British fashion house AllSaints ( the first U.S. location for women's Italian fashion brand Luisa Spagnoli), The North Face, British perfume house Penhaligon's, Pink Posy Bake Shop, UNOde50, Allen Edmonds and Amour Vert, Jenni Kayne's and Peloton all joined the roster at Stanford Shopping Center this summer.

-- L.T.

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10 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 3, 2016 at 8:50 am

I fear Stanford SC is pricing itself out of the average Palo Altan's price range.

17 people like this
Posted by Done Deal
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 3, 2016 at 9:40 am

Done Deal is a registered user.

Stanford Shopping Center is ALREADY out of reach for upper middle class Palo Altans.

[Portion removed.]

17 people like this
Posted by Reader
a resident of another community
on Oct 3, 2016 at 9:45 am

Based on the number of luxury automobiles in the Stanford Shopping Center parking lot, I'm guessing that these two new high-end retailers will do fine.

No one is forcing you to patronize any given store or this shopping center in general.

If you want cheap stuff, you are free to drive to Mountain View and shop at Walmart, Costco, Target, etc.

15 people like this
Posted by lrock
a resident of Menlo Park
on Oct 3, 2016 at 11:39 am

lrock is a registered user.

@Reader: Sounds a lot like "Let them eat cake"...

14 people like this
Posted by Unappealing
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 3, 2016 at 2:15 pm

Unappealing is a registered user.

I no longer trust Calafia's claim of " organic" or " freshness" after acquiring a nasty case of food poisoning there. I even had a doctor's note to show them, proving that I got the illness there, and they wouldn't refund my money.

The thought of breakfast there just grosses me out!

24 people like this
Posted by Reader
a resident of another community
on Oct 3, 2016 at 2:27 pm


Well, the people are already here.

Plus, there are already Cartier stores in San Francisco and Santa Clara's Valley Fair (the SF one has been around for a long time). Cartier should have a good idea of where customers to those two stores are coming from.

I'm sure those two high-end retailers conducted ample amounts of research to determine if the local demographics would support such stores: local residential real estate prices, per capita income, disposable income, etc. They're not going to open new stores in places that they don't think have a chance of success.

Would you open a bikini shop in Miami Beach or Nome, Alaska?

Clearly, wealth is growing for a certain percentage of Peninsula residents and that's pretty evident in the soaring residential real estate valuations over the past five years.

You can see it in a lot of other places. For example, if you see a $500 bottle of wine on a restaurant's wine list, that means SOMEONE is buying $500 bottles of wine, even if YOU aren't.

No business want to lock up capital in product inventory that isn't going to move.

12 people like this
Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 3, 2016 at 4:22 pm

I think most shoppers are not Palo Altans. You should see the threads people wear at Back-to-School Nite - most are housepoor. Still great to have access to such a nice shopping center. I wish they would ban dogs, however. Smeared feces on the cement is not what I want on my shoes. And it's disgusting to have to witness dogs peeing on poles. Certainly the mall is catering to the super wealthy and entitled by allowing this. Would these people shop elsewhere if they banned dogs? No, because SSC is unique. Ban the dogs.

14 people like this
Posted by Reader
a resident of another community
on Oct 4, 2016 at 9:52 am

The problem with dogs and their poop is nothing new to Stanford Shopping Center nor is it specific to this location. It's an inherent problem anywhere dogs are allowed, including city streets, whether it be Palo Alto, Paris, or Amsterdam. Some dog owners simply are careless about picking up after their pets.

For sure, Stanford Shopping Center management is not catering to the "super wealthy" [sic] by welcoming dogs since it has been doing so for decades.

Besides, the "super wealthy" don't walk their own dogs. They have dog walkers for that. The people who are bringing dogs to Stanford Shopping Center are the same ones who are walking them down the street, bringing them to parks, the beach, etc.

And even in recession years, there are dogs. The presence of dogs at Stanford Shopping Center or many other places has ZERO to do with the "super wealthy."

7 people like this
Posted by Tourists
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 4, 2016 at 12:23 pm

Stanford Shopping Center is filled with wealthy foreigners in the middle of the week! They are dropped off by tour buses, sometimes two buses at once.

Stanford SC has become a tourist attraction!

Posted by Same as it ever was
a resident of Adobe-Meadow

on Oct 4, 2016 at 2:49 pm

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3 people like this
Posted by Stanford SC
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 4, 2016 at 2:58 pm

I agree. The SC has always been a destination for shopping hungry tourists. It's been like that for the entire time I've lived here which is over 50 years. [Portion removed.]

9 people like this
Posted by Reader
a resident of another community
on Oct 4, 2016 at 3:48 pm


"Stanford Shopping Center is filled with wealthy foreigners in the middle of the week! They are dropped off by tour buses, sometimes two buses at once.

Stanford SC has become a tourist attraction!"

What's wrong with that? Don't you like the sales tax revenue? The county makes more in sales tax revenue when a $10,000 watch or $7,000 purse is sold, not a $2 box of pencils.

Heck, I am happy to buy a few things when I travel. What's wrong with Palo Alto and Stanford? Are you so elite that you can't bear the thought of visitors spending money here?

Do you understand what a free economy market is? Which country do you think you live in? The People's Republic of Palo Alto?

3 people like this
Posted by Yuck!
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 7, 2016 at 10:10 am

Yuck! is a registered user.

But BUSLOADS if them, five days a week? Carloads, maybe, but BUSLOADS of tourists are overwhelming to the locals trying to shop!

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

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