News

After six decades, Palo Alto sandwich standby Village Cheese House closes

Town & Country Village seeks new owner for deli

Village Cheese House, which has been serving deli sandwiches at Town & Country Village in Palo Alto since 1959, suddenly closed this week.

A public relations company announced on Monday, Dec. 30, that Village Cheese House would be closing on Dec. 31 but that Ellis Partners, which owns the 855 El Camino Real shopping center, hopes to find a new owner to "continue Village Cheese House's heritage at Town & Country Village."

On Monday afternoon, however, the deli was already closed, the space completely emptied out and dark. A note on the front door said it would be closed until the end of January for remodeling.

The current owners of Village Cheese House, Bernard and Joni Pailma, took over the longtime business from Lindsey Hiken four years ago. (Hiken's family bought the deli from the original owners, Frank and Donald Staehnke, in 2007.) On Tuesday, Joni Pailma declined to answer questions about the closure.

The PR company said only that the Pailmas closed "to focus on other ventures."

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The Pailmas opened a second Village Cheese House in San Jose in February, telling the San Jose Mercury News that they planned to franchise the deli. That location appears to have closed as well.

Village Cheese House has long drawn a loyal following — particularly Palo Alto High School and Stanford University students — for its housemade spread, imported cheeses and generously sized sandwiches, such as the "Double Decker" (a half pound of smoked ham and roasted turkey on three slices of sourdough bread).

Village Cheese House appears to have been the oldest food business at Town & Country Village, which has changed vastly over the last 60 years, with restaurants such as Stickney's, Hobee's and the Cook Book giving way to the likes of Gott's Roadside, Boba Guys and Telefèric Barcelona.

Jim Ellis, co-founder of Ellis Partners, which has owned Town & Country Village for over 10 years, stated in the announcement that "Ellis Partners enjoys being able to support and partner with small businesses in the Bay Area, such as Village Cheese House. ... We hope to bring new ownership to Village Cheese House Palo Alto and continue bringing the beloved proprietary recipes and menu items to the Palo Alto community."

Anyone interested in taking over the deli can contact Town & Country here.

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This story will be updated if more information becomes available.

View the city's most notable openings and closings during 2019 on an interactive map, which can be viewed here.

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After six decades, Palo Alto sandwich standby Village Cheese House closes

Town & Country Village seeks new owner for deli

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Tue, Dec 31, 2019, 9:48 am

Village Cheese House, which has been serving deli sandwiches at Town & Country Village in Palo Alto since 1959, suddenly closed this week.

A public relations company announced on Monday, Dec. 30, that Village Cheese House would be closing on Dec. 31 but that Ellis Partners, which owns the 855 El Camino Real shopping center, hopes to find a new owner to "continue Village Cheese House's heritage at Town & Country Village."

On Monday afternoon, however, the deli was already closed, the space completely emptied out and dark. A note on the front door said it would be closed until the end of January for remodeling.

The current owners of Village Cheese House, Bernard and Joni Pailma, took over the longtime business from Lindsey Hiken four years ago. (Hiken's family bought the deli from the original owners, Frank and Donald Staehnke, in 2007.) On Tuesday, Joni Pailma declined to answer questions about the closure.

The PR company said only that the Pailmas closed "to focus on other ventures."

The Pailmas opened a second Village Cheese House in San Jose in February, telling the San Jose Mercury News that they planned to franchise the deli. That location appears to have closed as well.

Village Cheese House has long drawn a loyal following — particularly Palo Alto High School and Stanford University students — for its housemade spread, imported cheeses and generously sized sandwiches, such as the "Double Decker" (a half pound of smoked ham and roasted turkey on three slices of sourdough bread).

Village Cheese House appears to have been the oldest food business at Town & Country Village, which has changed vastly over the last 60 years, with restaurants such as Stickney's, Hobee's and the Cook Book giving way to the likes of Gott's Roadside, Boba Guys and Telefèric Barcelona.

Jim Ellis, co-founder of Ellis Partners, which has owned Town & Country Village for over 10 years, stated in the announcement that "Ellis Partners enjoys being able to support and partner with small businesses in the Bay Area, such as Village Cheese House. ... We hope to bring new ownership to Village Cheese House Palo Alto and continue bringing the beloved proprietary recipes and menu items to the Palo Alto community."

Anyone interested in taking over the deli can contact Town & Country here.

This story will be updated if more information becomes available.

View the city's most notable openings and closings during 2019 on an interactive map, which can be viewed here.

Comments

mike
Mountain View
on Dec 31, 2019 at 11:02 am
mike, Mountain View
on Dec 31, 2019 at 11:02 am

Sad. I new the original owner, a nice man,


Mark Weiss
Registered user
Downtown North
on Dec 31, 2019 at 11:26 am
Mark Weiss, Downtown North
Registered user
on Dec 31, 2019 at 11:26 am

In 1996 when I started Earthwise Productions, Noah Hiken led a band called Hip Hop Hippies while blink 182 was on a record label called Grilled Cheese. We had shows featuring Skankin’ Pickle, and Cake — not together, of course.
Actually, we would feed the bands from a sandwich platter from Fred’s Deli, on El Camino near what is now L&L Hawaiian.


CrescentParkAnon.
Crescent Park
on Dec 31, 2019 at 3:12 pm
CrescentParkAnon., Crescent Park
on Dec 31, 2019 at 3:12 pm

When I was going to PALY in the 70's that place was just super-fantastic. Almost every school-day I and a long line of students would buy great sandwiches from this place.

I used to get a roast beef sandwich and a milk on the most amazing Kaiser Rolls that was out of this world ... and for only $2.10. I'd pick a bench and read classic science fiction, or just hang out with friends, before returning to PALY after lunch.

The new store was great, but it wasn't the same after the original owners sold out, but I know lots of people appreciated that it was saved for as long as it was. Thank you.

Like Hobee's in Town and Country, I was hoping these places would just go on forever. I'm very sad to see them go.


musical
Palo Verde
on Dec 31, 2019 at 5:33 pm
musical, Palo Verde
on Dec 31, 2019 at 5:33 pm

^ Here on the other side of the tracks I always brought home-made sandwiches with me to high school, and saved my money to pay for college.


Paly '77
Palo Alto High School
on Dec 31, 2019 at 9:24 pm
Paly '77, Palo Alto High School
on Dec 31, 2019 at 9:24 pm

Oh, wow. It's been a long time and I live a long ways away. I remember going there at lunch and getting a large slab of lasagna for a couple of bucks. Hopefully management can find a new owner who will still serve Paly kids without charging an arm and a leg.


Resident
Old Palo Alto
on Dec 31, 2019 at 9:54 pm
Resident, Old Palo Alto
on Dec 31, 2019 at 9:54 pm

In recent years, the Cheese House has been a shadow of its former self. The sandwiches tasted different from when the store was run by the original owners. The new owners changed the bread, the sandwich spread, and quality of the meat for their sandwiches. The original Cheese House sold gourmet candy and candy from around the world, along with other international gourmet food items. It was a mini European market. The cheese selections were sophisticated. The atmosphere was charming. Wicker baskets, dried salami and other interesting items hung from the ceiling. It was a treat to go there. The delicious traditional pastrami sandwiches have been long gone. The US Postal Service even had a mini post office in the corner of the store. It was a Palo Alto favorite.


Julie Armitano
University South
on Jan 2, 2020 at 9:58 am
Julie Armitano, University South
on Jan 2, 2020 at 9:58 am

It is really sad .
My family love the deli.
It is a new place.


J Palmer
another community
on Jan 5, 2020 at 6:33 am
J Palmer, another community
on Jan 5, 2020 at 6:33 am

I used to ride my ten speed from Mountain View to the Village Cheese House just to buy a sandwich. The aroma of the place was straight out of heaven.


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