Shop Talk | May 31, 2006 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - May 31, 2006

Shop Talk

by Daryl Savage

NEW HOTEL IS UNLEASHED . . . The view from Suite 101 is by far the most impressive of any of the rooms in a soon-to-open Mountain View hotel. Although the lodging doesn't include a sparkling pool, its lobby boasts a fireplace, wood paneling, and a stunning, curved granite counter for check-in. The hotel is the latest entry in the lodging industry on the Peninsula — pet lodging, that is. PetsHotel officially opens to four-legged guests on July 5. "It's elegant. You instantly get the feeling you're in a posh hotel," said PetsHotel Manager Kevin Benson. The boutique-like inn is just one piece of the 35,000-square-foot PetSmart, which opened last week in the just-built Charleston Plaza (not to be confused with the Charleston Center shopping area in south Palo Alto). PetSmart is within drooling distance of Pet Club, another large pet store at 1010 Rengstorff Ave., next to Costco. Not to mention a third new pet shop, Pet Food Express, this one in Palo Alto at the Charleston Center, less than a mile north at Middlefield and Charleston roads. Too much competition? "There's enough for everyone. Those other stores carry mainly products for pets. We have all the bells and whistles here," Benson of PetsHotel said.

The bells and whistles include veterinary care, a spa-like grooming facility and a "doggie day camp," in addition to the hotel. PetsHotel has 130 rooms — 10 of which are suites. Cats have their own wing, a smaller section to which Benson refers as the "kitty cottages, which have their own separate air system, so cats won't pick up the scent of dogs." Rooms go for $23 a night, and include walks and food. Suites, at $33 a night, are slightly larger and have a television tuned to Animal Planet. Optional add-ons include a raised cot with a sheepskin blanket and special dog toys that can be lined with peanut butter. Comfort is the key, which is why the floors are heated to a cozy 69 degrees, according to Benson. And there's 24-hour room service. "If Fluffy wants a treat at midnight, she'll get one. Our kitchen is always open," Benson said. One of the more popular items is a frozen snack: "We use vanilla ice cream that is fat-free and lactose-free and put little doggie biscuits around it to make it into a sundae," he said. There's also a telephone booth, with a small cushion in front of it. Pets can be placed on the cushion so owners can call in and talk to them. "We call it the 'bone phone,'" Benson said.

CAL AVE KEEPS PERKING . . . "It's the street," Delilah Del Rio says, referring to California Avenue. "It's a great little community." Del Rio credits the commercial stretch of California with the six-month success of Starbucks, at 361 California Ave., of which she is manager. Not everyone agrees: "It's Delilah," said one employee who did not want her name revealed. "She's inspirational. Full of life. We all want to please her." Del Rio, a former dot-commer who left the industry after she got carpal tunnel syndrome, shrugs off the compliment and throws the credit back to the street. She may be right. The area is bubbling with other businesses that are brand new or about to open — including two new Mexican eateries. One, Salsa, which opened in early May, is owned by three San Jose State grads who emigrated from Jordan. It is their second restaurant on California Avenue. Their first, Mediterranean Wraps, is across the street from Salsa. The other Mexican restaurant, Taco Del Mar, at 365 California Ave. (next to Starbucks), will open in a few months. And directly next door, the Counter Gourmet Burger is under construction. "Things are running smoothly and we hope to be open by July, at the latest," owner Peter Katz said.

GREEN ELEPHANT AMBLING INTO SOUTH PALO ALTO . . . Feng Yuan, the venerable Chinese restaurant in Charleston Center in south Palo Alto, has served its last bowl of won ton soup. The restaurant, a fixture for nearly 50 years, permanently closed its doors May 21. "We're in the process of selling it," Sara Leung, the daughter of owners Chung and Buey Leung of Fremont, says happily. The Leungs had purchased the restaurant in 2004 from its longtime owners, the Lum family, whose younger family members helped make won tons and spring rolls at a large table. Chung Leung found the business more work than he could handle, even with evening help from his wife and daughter, both of whom have day jobs. They put the restaurant up for sale last fall, weathering a couple of false starts before the current sale. Moving in after a remodel will be a Malaysian restaurant, the "Green Elephant Gourmet," which has already applied for transfer of the beer-and-wine license under new owners Than Lwin Maung and Xiaojie Yin.

Heard a rumor about your favorite store or business moving out, or in, down the block or across town? Daryl Savage will check it out. She can be e-mailed at


Like this comment
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of another community
on Jan 18, 2008 at 10:36 pm

"Comfort is the key, which is why the floors are heated to a cozy 69 degrees, according to Benson."

The floors are not heated - they never have been. I don't know if you quoted Mr. Benson wrong but they are not heated.

All I have to say is REALLY do your homework before dropping off your pet here. If your pets mean a lot to you, ask for an inside tour. INSIST on it (best to ask the manager). If they won't let you inside, what does that say about the quality of care they provide? Just see for yourself.

Like this comment
Posted by Joanna
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 21, 2008 at 1:39 pm

Cute. Just like "Wag" in SF. But notice this: over 95% of the comfort features are for OUR own benefit... not the animal's. Our dogs can't tell the difference between smoked bacon or regular bacon flavoured treats.

Granite??? It is for us...

Think about it.

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