In the latest Around Town column, the story of how Palo Alto nearly lost the beloved gorilla that welcomed visitors at Antonio's Nut House, the Uplift Local program's downtown return and news about notable athletes with local ties.
'ANIMAL' RESCUE ... Antonio's Nut House has sadly closed its doors for good (unless a partner comes through or someone commits to reopening and purchasing the business, according to the owners), but at least one familiar face from the longtime dive bar will hopefully find a new, permanent home in Palo Alto. The caged gorilla that served countless peanuts to patrons over the decades could become an artifact at the future Palo Alto History Museum if the project comes to fruition. You can thank resident Jeff Day for rescuing the beloved figure on Feb. 2 from Oakland, where it was lined up for auction. Day previously arranged to pick up the giant gorilla from the watering hole, but it was accidentally taken to Harvey Clars Auction Gallery in the east bay along with other contents found inside the California Avenue business. He managed to get the gorilla and its cage back once the mix-up was cleared up. He secured the gorilla and its cage onto his truck and brought them back to Palo Alto by way of the Bay Bridge. Day, a member of the Palo Alto Historical Association board of directors, was in the process this week of keeping the mechanical, furry friend in a storage facility within Palo Alto city limits. He considers the gorilla to be a sort of "trademark" of Antonio's Nut House, which he called "an important community spot for Palo Alto. ... It's a shame it's gone."
BACK TO THE STREETS ... After a winter break due to the regional stay-at-home order, which was lifted in late January, Palo Alto has brought back outdoor dining and retail back to downtown. On Friday, the city closed select streets to cars as part of its Uplift Local program, which blocks certain roadways for customers and pedestrians to freely roam and support local merchants safely during the pandemic. The road closures include University Avenue between Ramona and Bryant streets and a half block of Ramona north of Hamilton Avenue. The changes build on the recent closures on California Avenue as part of Uplift Local. The city plans to hold a virtual community check-in meeting on the program on Feb. 16, 5:30-6:30 p.m. The public Zoom meeting can be accessed by dialing 669-900-6833 and using webinar ID 995 9377 6067 and passcode 312348. For more details and recordings of past meetings, visit [cityofpaloalto.org/upliftlocal cityofpaloalto.org/upliftlocal.
CAREER MOVES ... Notable athletes with ties to Palo Alto have recently entered new phases — and reached milestones — in their respective careers. Basketball's Jeremy Lin this week played in his first game with the Santa Cruz Warriors, the Golden State Warriors' G-League team, marking his return to the NBA. Lin had previously played for the Beijing Ducks in China from 2019 through last year. The 32-year-old guard also marked the ninth anniversary of Linsanity (the period during the 2011-12 NBA season when Lin's on-court performance for the New York Knicks put the team on a winning streak). Joc Pederson, 28, is also moving forward with a new team. He has left the Los Angeles Dodgers, which drafted him in 2010, and signed a one-year deal with the Chicago Cubs. "So much has I happened== over those 10 years — it's wild to think about. Of course, all that baseball happened: six straight division winners, three NL (National League) pennants and one epic World Series title," he wrote in a Feb. 5 article for The Players' Tribune. The outfielder's deal with the Cubs includes $7 million in guaranteed salary, according to MLB.com. And last but not least, John Lynch received what some may consider an overdue honor. On Feb. 6, the former Stanford University All-American and general manager for the San Francisco 49ers joined the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Lynch has been a Hall of Fame finalist for eight years.