Shop Talk | October 19, 2012 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Eating Out - October 19, 2012

Shop Talk

BACON IN A BOTTLE ... Imagine this: soda that tastes like bacon. "And if you add a little salt, it tastes exactly like a crisp strip of sizzling bacon," claims the owner of Rocket Fizz, a soda/candy/toy store that's preparing to open at 250 University Ave. in Palo Alto. San Jose resident Chris Dunn, who co-owns the store with his wife, Lisa Pelgrim, says Rocket Fizz is a step back in time. The inventory includes 1,500 different candies, 60 types of saltwater taffy and at least 500 flavors of soda. "The nostalgia aspect here is big. It brings you back to your childhood," Dunn said. The Palo Alto store will be the couple's second Rocket Fizz franchise. "We opened a store in Campbell last June. It's been so successful and fun that we wanted to bring it to Palo Alto," he said. In addition to the dizzying array of candy and the unusual variety of beverages, which also includes buffalo-wing soda and cotton-candy soda, there are vintage signs and gag gifts. It's a lot to fit into the long and narrow 1,600-square-foot shop that previously housed the American Express Travel store. A November opening is planned.

ROBAII REINVENTED ... It wasn't easy for Dar Nafar, owner of Robaii Falafel and Persian, a 12-year-old restaurant that closed in 2010, to find a location for his new venture. "For two years, I was looking for opportunities and studying my options," he said. His persistence paid off, and Nafar opened Thyme to Eat at 448 University Ave. in Palo Alto on Oct. 6. It replaces Hyderabad House, which closed earlier this year. Nafar said his new restaurant, although a little more upscale, is a continuation of the old Robaii, which was on the corner of Hamilton Avenue and Cowper Street. "I've missed my customers. I always hoped to return to Palo Alto," he said. Nafar has created a more extensive menu at Thyme to Eat. New items include vegan and gluten-free options, along with a few beverages such as Chia Rose Water Fresca and Sekanjeh Bean, a concoction of vinegar syrup and Persian-cucumber puree.

PIAZZA ADDITION DELAYED ... The 4,000-square-foot expansion project for Piazza Fine Foods in Palo Alto's Charleston Center that will dramatically increase the size of its cheese shop is in full swing, but taking longer than expected. Initial projections had pegged the opening for Oct. 1. "A small portion will open the first week in November; the rest will open in early January," assistant store manager Mike de Jesus said.

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. Email


Posted by Boycott Piazzas, a resident of Midtown
on Oct 19, 2012 at 8:45 am

So Piazzas is adding another 4K square feet to there store. That will surely push them over the 20K limit.
How did they get away with that? Why hasen't the Weeklylooked into it? Why are there no EIR and traffic studies for this large project??

It is also interesting because of this story in the Weekly

Web Link

the title of which is:
"Guest Opinion: Hold the line on 20,000-square-foot grocery stores"

and from it:
"Two years ago, JJ&F Market, Co-op and Piazza presented petitions to the city with thousands of customer signatures asking that the 20,000-square-foot standard be upheld. "


"If we grant an exception that will harm existing markets that are within the 20,000-square-foot cap (Piazza, JJ&F and Safeway), aren't we likely to end up with fewer choices rather than more? "

So I guess now, that it selfishly serves their needs, the 20K limit is no longer important and they do not care about harming other stores???

BTW--i think the op-ed was wrong and an attempt to advocate a restraint of competetion in Palo Alto, but that is another story.
Thepoint is that Piazza's is acting in a hypocritical manner now, enlarging their store beyond the limit.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 19, 2012 at 8:50 am

I have wondered about this myself. As a frequent shopper at Piazza's, I am very pleased at the news. Since they are probably going to be affected by the new Mikis, this is probably a competitive move on their part.

I have wondered if since they are calling it a specialist cheese shop rather than an extension, if this is how they are getting round the rules.

Posted by Elizabeth, a resident of Midtown
on Oct 22, 2012 at 10:54 am

Will be fun to see Rocket Fizz in Palo Alto. The one in Campbell is a hoot!

Posted by shopper, a resident of Midtown
on Oct 22, 2012 at 11:02 am

I'm all for bigger grocery stores with a wider selection of foods, but 4000 square feet dedicated to cheese? How about a wider variety of fresh fruits and vegetables? That is the area that Palo Alto grocery stores really suck at.

Posted by TimH, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 22, 2012 at 11:24 am

So, Rocket Fizz. Sounds fun, but (again) a national chain business gets the nod from Palo Alto. An informal count reveals 28 stores nationally and Palo Alto would be #29. Perhaps a numeric approach instead of actual names would suit the city council, as well. Council member 1, number 2, etc.

Posted by moi, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 22, 2012 at 11:46 am

Just great.

Piazza's = more artery-clogging products from (often) abused animals.

RocketFizz = diabetes franchise.

Mayor Bloomberg, wrhere are you?

Posted by Smith, a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 22, 2012 at 12:07 pm

While I agree, Piazza employees shouldn't cut-the-cheese in small crowded areas, they really do carry, display, and sell vegetables far inferior to their competitors.

Posted by Remember When, a resident of Midtown
on Oct 22, 2012 at 12:31 pm

Remember when Kikis was open several years ago downtown. A nostalgic candy store. I hope that this store fares better. But as a mom with younger children - who needs more sweets?

Posted by MN, a resident of another community
on Oct 23, 2012 at 4:45 pm

So glad to hear about the new restaurant! Robaii always had the BEST falafel and I have been missing it since they closed. Hope they are serving it in the new place.

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