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Shop Talk: Palo Alto loses iconic Phyllis Boutique, Round Table Pizza

Also, New Zealand men's clothing company Rodd & Gunn opens

After 40 years Phyllis Newhouse has closed her store, Phyllis Boutique, on Ramona Street in downtown Palo Alto. Photo by Veronica Weber.

In this week's Shop Talk column, read about the departure of two longtime Palo Alto businesses — Phyllis Boutique and Round Table Pizza — and the arrival of a new clothing store.

BOUTIQUE ENDS 44-YEAR RUN ... Phyllis Newhouse and her family have a long history as business owners in Palo Alto's downtown. Her father, Mose Newhouse, ran his own secondhand and Navy surplus store on Emerson Street starting in 1935, and when he retired in 1975, she took over the family business, moving the store a block over and exchanging the rentable tuxedos and vintage outfits for designer women's clothing. Now in her 80s, Newhouse has decided to retire. She closed down her iconic Phyllis Boutique, located at 540 Ramona St., on Saturday, Aug. 31. The shop underwent many changes under Newhouse. She stopped selling used clothes and military outfits, choosing instead to scour stores in Berkeley that offered interesting, quirky styles that would be hard to find elsewhere in Palo Alto. She also stopped selling men's clothes altogether, focusing exclusively on women's attire, particularly garments with Asian and European influences. — M.H.

ROUND TABLE LEAVES UNIVERSITY ... The 263 University Ave. restaurant closed on Sunday, Aug. 19, according to an employee. The Round Table Pizza signage was quickly replaced by large "for lease" signs. An employee at Bayside Realty Partners -- which has listed the whole building for rent at a base rate of $18 to $36 per square foot per year, not including operating expenses like taxes, property insurance and maintenance -- declined to provide further information about the closure. It advertises the ground-level Round Table space as "perfect location for a boutique restaurant; plenty of foot traffic from high-income community and tourists." Locals who had dined at the Round Table or worked there as teenagers lamented the loss of another longtime local business on Facebook group Our Town Palo Alto. A post publicizing the closure gathered more than 200 comments. Joel Johnson called Round Table Pizza "one of the last bastions for blue collar lunch in downtown PA." Round Table is now a franchised chain, but got its start locally. Bill Larson opened the first location in Menlo Park in 1959. — E.K.

RODD & GUNN EXPANDS ... The New Zealand-based men's clothing company Rodd & Gunn opened its newest West Coast store across from Banana Republic at Stanford Shopping Center on Aug. 3. The company, which has more than 100 stores across Australia and New Zealand, has been rapidly expanding its reach around the globe and is on target to have 10 locations in the United States by the year's end, according to the company's website. While the stand-alone store is new to the area, Nordstrom has been carrying the company's lifestyle brand online and at its Stanford location. The company's roots date back to 1946, when the brand's English Pointer logo was used on a boutique line of New Zealand-made shirts. The current form of the brand launched in 1987 with its first stand-alone store in Auckland's Queen Street. The brand is known for its relaxed, classic designs, such as sweaters and sports coats that feature pure New Zealand merino wool woven into the fabric. — L.T.

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

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