Shop Talk | July 6, 2012 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Eating Out - July 6, 2012

Shop Talk

FURNITURE DUO ... Two new furniture stores are opening in downtown Palo Alto within two blocks of each other. The first, West Elm, is taking over the corner location at 180 University Ave. After nearly three years of temporary tenants at the site, West Elm grabbed the 11,000-square-foot space and is doing a major renovation. Owned by Williams-Sonoma, West Elm sells contemporary pieces and housewares, with a sustainable-furniture division. Developer John McNellis said: "We are absolutely delighted to be bringing West Elm to University Avenue. It ... will perfectly complement the other home-oriented uses, like Restoration Hardware, already on the Avenue." The store is expected to open around Thanksgiving. A second furniture store, also renovating its corner location, is called Inhabiture. At 248 Hamilton Ave., it will sell "eco-friendly" furniture. Inhabiture grew out of Vox Design Group, a 9-year-old Mountain View company that creates green residential and commercial buildings and renovations. Ken Arends, vice president of sustainability for Vox, said the retail portion will be in the front of the building and the Vox Design offices will be in back. "We'll be buying materials from local vendors. We don't want our cabinetry coming from sweatshops in China," he said. A Sept. 1 opening is planned.

THAI CITY OUT, HONG KONG IN ... Thai City, a family-owned and -run Palo Alto restaurant, closed its doors in late April, enabling another family restaurant to move in. Hong Kong Restaurant opened last month at 3691 El Camino Real after painting and removing a wall in the 1,900-square-foot space. It had to leave its previous location (inside the San Antonio Inn at 2650 W. El Camino Real in Mountain View) after a 12-year run. "Our lease was up and the entire property was sold," owner Jimmy Chow said. He said the restaurant's loyal clientele followed him and his restaurant to Palo Alto. "Business has been pretty great here and we've only been open a few weeks. It's a good location; it's bigger than our old place; and we're still using the same menu and prices," he said. Lunch items are in the $6 range. "We may eventually change the menu, but not yet," he added.

24-KARAT-GOLD SHOES AT STANFORD ... The high-end shoe store Stuart Weitzman is stepping into Stanford Shopping Center. The company bills its shoes as "equal parts spectacle and sculpture," using unusual materials such as 24-karat gold, gemstones or crystals, and reports that it sells 2 million pairs of shoes annually. The shop is set to open July 11 in a 1,300-square-foot space between the Microsoft Store and the Apple Store. "When the opportunity arose to expand the business within the city, I jumped at the chance," Stuart Weitzman spokesperson Karen Ferko said, calling Palo Alto a place of "fashionable charm." The store will also sell handbags and baby shoes.

A SHOUT-OUT FOR MOLLIE STONE'S ... Mollie Stone's Markets was named Outstanding Specialty Retailerlast month by the National Association for the Specialty Food Trade, recognized for its excellence in areas including customer service. There are nine Mollie Stone's markets in the Bay Area, including the Palo Alto store at 164 S. California Ave. The chain is featured in the May/June issue of Specialty Food Magazine.

Heard a rumor about your favorite store or business? Daryl Savage will check it out. Email


Like this comment
Posted by Kiki
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 8, 2012 at 2:21 pm

We've been going to Hong Kong Chinese restaurant for years. We're so happy they are now even closer to us in Barron Park. Very nice family and cheapest prices in town with extra large portions.

Like this comment
Posted by Thai City Fan
a resident of Stanford
on Jul 9, 2012 at 9:46 am

We just wanted to bid farewell to Thai City. The family that ran the restaurant was so nice to children. We miss them and hope they are doing all right.

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Posted by labarbe
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 9, 2012 at 10:31 am

Mollie Stone's ? Really? Nice selection and all, but prices are shamelessly high for just about everything in the store. Seriously. I expect them to suffer Andronico's fate.

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Posted by NotSureAboutMollieStone's
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 9, 2012 at 10:58 am

Mollie Stone's prices are ridiculous high (yes on everything). I wonder how it can survive thus far. Maybe someone can explain the reason behind their high prices.

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Posted by KP
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jul 9, 2012 at 11:21 am

Some people with money like to spend it wisely, and go to Trader Joes, Milk Pail or Safeway, etc. - others think that if they shop at more expensive stores they are getting better items or they can name drop to show they have money...they go into Andronico's and Mollie Stone's in their high heels, hair done up, 3 pc. suits etc.! I laugh at them.
I try to keep my money where it belongs...WITH ME!

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Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Jul 9, 2012 at 11:38 am

A lot of hostile character judgments about whoever shops at whatever market.

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Posted by longtimeresident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 9, 2012 at 11:40 am

Downtown Palo Alto has very few stores that hold any interest for me. They need to have restrictions on what stores can go in the downtown area. Less nail salons, furniture stores and coffee places. More clothing, shoe, book and unique specialty stores.

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Posted by paloaltotreewatch
a resident of Palo Alto Orchards
on Jul 9, 2012 at 11:50 am

just what we need more home improvement stores.
No worries they are distant third to
1) restaurants
2) mani/pedi/hair places.

When I grew up in this town there where 7 bookstores on and off University.There was weekend live music at the Varisty and all was well. Now there are zero cultural items left.

The town used to be a unique combination of intellectualism and money
now it is just money and that is very boring.

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Posted by Barbara
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 9, 2012 at 12:52 pm

I don't get why Mollie Stone's would be named "outstanding specialty retailer" -- What? It's certainly NOT in the same category as Whole Foods!

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Posted by local gurl
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jul 9, 2012 at 3:20 pm

I much prefer Mollie Stone's to Whole Foods. Whole Foods is a huge corporation -- despite the veneer.

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Posted by Barbara
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 9, 2012 at 4:59 pm

Yes, Whole Foods is a huge corporation on the NYSE and doing well, and we want that to continue! Those companies are what keep the USA strong!!

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Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Jul 9, 2012 at 5:42 pm

Why do people argue about absolutely everything on this website? It's just bizarre. "My market is better than yours neh neh neh neh neh" Worse than children.

Start a thread on what elements make a community? What makes an adult conversation?

Or do you just like arguing?

Like this comment
Posted by Nora Charles
a resident of Stanford
on Jul 9, 2012 at 11:22 pm

Congratulations to Mollie Stone's! After the very sad closure of Andronico's (I hope another grocery store moves in) I started shopping there. Yes, some items are more expensive than at Safeway, but not all. The employees are very friendly and helpful, and it's a perfect size, not overwhelming like the larger stores. I just hope the ill-advised plan to narrow California Ave. won't be a problem.

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Posted by PA Resident
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jul 10, 2012 at 1:29 am

To those wondering about the popularity of Mollie Stone's — it has carved out a strong niche in the kosher-foods area, offering the widest selection of kosher items I've seen anywhere. That's not a draw for me, but given the large number of conservatively-dressed families I see walking around south Palo Alto on Saturdays, I bet there's a large clientele here in Palo Alto. (I just pick up occasional items there when I'm in the neighborhood.)

We used to go to Thai City quite a bit when our kids were little and adored Thai City's mee krob. When they took that off the menu years ago, and also changed something about their chicken dishes, we stopped going nearly as often. (My guess is that they began slicing and pre-steaming the chicken ahead of time, and then would just throw handfuls of it into stir-fries. It had a rubbery texture and a livery flavor, unlike any stir-fried chicken I've had, and the chicken dishes were negatively impacted. I doubt that we were the only patrons who noticed that something had changed for the worse.)

Nevertheless, we still went there from time to time, enjoying what was still the best tom kha gai anywhere (in spite of the chicken), a fine selection of beers, and one particular waiter who was a real cutup. And yes, as someone mentioned above, they treated the children just great. I hope the family is getting along OK. When I was sick last week and craved some of that tom kha gai, I was disappointed when my husband told me that it had closed.

With the nearly simultaneous closing of Thai Garden/Pattaya when Palo Alto Bowl was torn down, that leaves south Palo Alto with no Thai places. (Yes, I do enjoy Indochine in Midtown, and Thaiphoon downtown.)

I've never tried the Hong Kong restaurant — I guess I'll have to check it out.

Like this comment
Posted by Love Shop Talk
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 10, 2012 at 1:54 pm

These Shop Talk articles are great!

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Posted by Mary Sue
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 13, 2012 at 5:58 pm

I LOVE West Elm! Very glad to see it on University!

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