Shop Talk: Apple store reopens; Max's closes

The latest in retail, restaurant news in Palo Alto

Apple employees welcome customers at the entrance of the Apple store on University Avenue after a two-month closure to remodel the space in Palo Alto on June 30, 2018. Photo by Adam Pardee.

In the latest Shop Talk column, read about the $6.6 million remodel of the downtown Palo Alto Apple store, the closure of a 30-year-old restaurant and the opening of a new Mexican eatery.

APPLE REOPENS PALO ALTO STORE ... Apple fans got their first look at the newly renovated Apple store in downtown Palo Alto at 10 a.m. Saturday when the store officially reopened its doors. "You'll love what we've done with the place," the tech company recently posted on the Palo Alto Apple store website. The company closed its iconic arched glass retail store at 340 University Ave. last month to launch a reported $6.6-million remodel, according to permit details posted on Buildzoom. The newly remodeled store had been kept out of public view. According to the building permit application filed with the city of Palo Alto by SeaBay Building Group, the revamp includes a new video wall, a ceiling in the back of the building and a second-floor reconfiguration, as well as new structural support in the basement to accommodate the video wall. This will be the second time in six years that Apple has transformed the site. Apple moved into the custom-designed 16,600-square-foot, two-story building in October 2012 after relocating from its original Palo Alto store at 451 University Ave. The latest remodel is part of Apple's plan to revamp its 500-plus retail stores worldwide, according to the "all things Apple" website 9to5Mac. Earlier this year, Apple launched a similar remodel at a store in Washington, which features a 6K video wall for Today at Apple events. According to 9to5Mac, remodeling work will be completed under the direction of San Francisco-based architecture firm Woods Bagot -- the same firm that designed the expansion of Hong Kong Central's Apple Store in 2016. --L.T.

OPERA CAFE GOES SILENT ... An influx of new dining options and steadily increasing rent has apparently put the final nail in the coffin at Max's Opera Cafe at Stanford Shopping Center. The 30-year-old restaurant -- known for its singing servers, corned beef and pastrami sandwiches and large slices of cake -- closed its doors at the end of business on Saturday, June 30. Owner Dennis Berkowitz said he started losing about $300,000 a year after new restaurants opened at the center about 12 years ago but was still making a profit. With the opening of more than five new eateries over the past two years alone in a renovated wing at the shopping center, and several more slated to open this year, Berkowitz called it quits. He said the cafe saw a 20 percent drop the first year the remodel was done and an additional 20 percent the following year. "I thought ... maybe it will drop and come back," he said in an interview last Monday, sitting outside the restaurant. "It didn't come back." After Berkowitz's lease ended in March, he went month-to-month while he tried to renegotiate with Simon Property Group, which owns the shopping center. He said the company decided against his proposal to split the large restaurant in half, lease one side to a new tenant and allow him to stay with a more affordable rent. His rent has steadily risen to more than $100 per square foot, with a monthly payment of about $50,000. Pacific Catch, a small Bay Area seafood chain, will take over the Max's space, he said. Berkowitz said he's sad to leave Palo Alto but encouraged customers who want their Max's "fix" to visit his Burlingame location. -- E.K.

SOLS OPEN 'SUN'... Aguachile, pozole and duck confit tacos are on the menu at Sun of Wolf, which opened to the public on Wednesday, June 27, at 406 S. California Ave. in Palo Alto. Sun of Wolf merges "Old World Mexican roots and modern Bay Area flavors" in a reflection of its ownership, three cousins whose parents own La Fiesta Restaurant and Vive Sol in Mountain View, Palo Alto Sol (next door to Sun of Wolf) and Quinto Sol in Redwood City. Paulina Sol, a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu, is overseeing the Sun of Wolf kitchen, while her sister Alexa Sol is in charge of design and management and their cousin, Viari Lopez, the bar. The opening menu is split into starters and mains. Starters include hamachi crudo, queso fundido, a little gem salad and beet tartare. Entrees range from the tacos and slow-cooked carnitas to Thai-style pan-seared cod, a cast-iron ribeye steak, cheeseburger and a vegetarian lasagna (the Sol mother's recipe). There are also craft cocktails, an international wine list and several beers on draft. The owners have completely transformed what used to be a hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurant, with a long, black marble-topped bar; white tiled walls; hanging pendant lights; plants throughout and a tufted banquette in the back of the restaurant. --E.K.

Compiled by the Weekly staff; this week written by Elena Kadvany and Linda Taaffe. Got leads on interesting and news-worthy retail developments? The Weekly will check them out. Email

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6 people like this
Posted by Henry
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 30, 2018 at 4:50 pm

Just updated our 4 year old iPhones so I won’t see the inside of a Apple store for another 4 years. I buy all my iPhone accessories from Amazon too. iPads from Target with 5% off.

7 people like this
Posted by The Accountant
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 2, 2018 at 12:46 pm

I think "...losing about $300,000 a year after new restaurants opened at the center about 12 years ago but was still making a profit." should be clarified to say "...losing about $300,000 worth of business a year after new restaurants opened...."

Probably was intended to say reduction in revenue but still making a profit. Otherwise looks strange to say losing money but making a profit.

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

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