Shop Talk | January 11, 2013 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Eating Out - January 11, 2013

Shop Talk

SURVEY MONKEY SWINGING INTO NEW HABITAT ... The online survey company Survey Monkey has signed on to be the anchor tenant for one of Palo Alto's newest and most ambitious developments. At the former Shell gas-station site on the corner of Alma Street and Lytton Avenue, the company will lease the top three floors and a rooftop deck of what city officials have referred to as the city's four-story "gateway building." The headquarters for Survey Monkey is now at 285 Hamilton Ave., but the growing company needs more room, spokeswoman Becky Cantieri said. "We are committed to Palo Alto but we've been looking for a larger space," she said, adding that the company is considering leasing out the second floor. Cantieri described the space as the "perfect opportunity for us. It's right across from the train station, and a significant number of our employees take the train." Survey Monkey has about 200 employees; 140 of them work in Palo Alto. Councilmember Pat Burt said he is delighted with the new tenant. "It's a growing, cutting-edge company and we're thrilled they've chosen to stay in Palo Alto," he said. The plans needed major revisions before being approved by the City Council. The controversy stemmed from some residents expressing concern about future traffic and parking problems in an already congested area. One of the concessions was eliminating 14 housing units and scaling back the height of the building. Another was an agreement to put a retail store and a nonprofit, downtown-oriented organization on the ground floor of the building. Survey Monkey's move-in date is scheduled for early 2014.

MENLO PARK MAY GET B.F.D. ... Celebrity chef Bradley Ogden is planning to open a new restaurant in the large, plantation-style building that formerly housed Gambardella's on Merrill Street across from the Menlo Park train station, a spokesman for Ogden has announced. Ogden, a chef and restaurateur who has a home in San Jose, is poised to open B.F.D. (Bradley's Fine Diner) in late summer. He plans to develop a restaurant with food served in a casual, approachable atmosphere, said Michael Duffield, a spokesman for Ogden. The space features a 2,800-square-foot, wraparound deck that would be used for patio dining. Gambardella's -- the Italian restaurant that had been a Menlo Park mainstay since the mid-1980s, aside from a brief three-year stint in Burlingame -- closed in late December. A phone call to Andy Gambardella was not immediately returned. The proprietor of nearby restaurants Crepes Cafe and Lisa's Tea Treasures -- which will not be closing, contrary to an earlier report -- are looking forward to their new neighbor. "We're excited. It brings a breath of fresh air," Helene Pascal of Crepes Cafe said of the remodeling that will be done to make way for B.F.D. "We want to make improvements, too -- change the tables, put up new decorations." The Crepes Cafe lease extends to at least 2019, Pascal said. Lisa's Tea Treasures, at 1175 Merrill, continues to host its high teas and private parties and to offer catering. "Lisa's Tea Treasures in Menlo Park is open for business, and we do take reservations. We are looking forward to serving customers as always," Thao Nguyen, manager and co-owner, 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 Wondering?, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 14, 2013 at 6:34 pm

Pat Burt Says:
"It's a growing, cutting-edge company and we're thrilled
they've chosen to stay in Palo Alto,"

So .. Mr. Burt ... just how much revenue will this company generate for Palo Alto vs the cost to facilitate their being here?

Got an answer, Mr. Burt?

Just wondering .

Posted by Whatsit, a resident of Menlo Park
on Jan 14, 2013 at 6:49 pm

So what does Survey Monkey do, anyway? And why is it so cutting edge?

Posted by Jay, a resident of another community
on Jan 14, 2013 at 8:40 pm

When I'm asked to take a online survey, I always declined. I must be the minority.

Posted by Maria, a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 14, 2013 at 9:21 pm


What kind of question is that?! If you sum up the cost and benefit of all companies being in Palo Alto, or downtown, do you have actually doubt that the costs outweigh the benefits (many of them intangible) of having business activity and innovation in Palo Alto?! Why would Pat Burt need to know precisely that formula when it is evident that we need these sort of companies to keep Palo Alto interesting, and not just from a financial perspective.

It is obvious that you want to live under a rock where nothing ever happens. That's not Palo Alto! Welcome to the 21st century.

Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 15, 2013 at 3:06 am

So, how long will Lytton Ave be closed, and Alma be two-lane? Maybe we should leave it that way permanently.

Posted by Wondering?, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 15, 2013 at 10:43 am

> What rock are you living under?

It’s amazing how some people in Palo Alto never seem to learn anything .. no matter how many times the basics are explained to them.

All entities occupy space, consume a certain amount of energy, and also create disruptions in the ecosystem which are often described as externalities. These externalities in an urban setting can ripple across the landscape, often creating problems for people not directly associated with the organism/entity/company. The parking problems downtown are an on-going, and seemingly unsolvable, problem that demonstrates a first order externality. And then there is traffic, as employees/clients/customers/suppliers/vendors/etc. need to gain access to the space where the entity operates. Beyond that, there is infrastructure that needs to be in place, and replaced, from time-to-time. Keeping the infrastructure functional takes more people than one might believe.

Continuing on, there is public safety, which often requires a certain number of public safety employees based on a ratio of people per square mile. And of course, there is a never ending number of managers at City Halls—who end up being hired to do something, even if it is not managing.

High Tech companies do not contribute much to the financial ecosystem of Palo Alto—other than buying lunches. While is not a smokestack industry kind of outfit, it nonetheless generates externalities that must be paid for, one way or another. Outside of the indirect payment of property tax through their lease, and any taxes they pay for utilities—these sorts of companies do not contribute much to the financial operation of the City Government.

As to their ability to draw other companies to Palo Alto that interact with them, and somehow contribute to the tax base—that is really a far reach to suggest, without some proof.

So .. that’s the rock I live under. What kind of rock do you live under that you don’t know about these issues?

Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde
on Jan 15, 2013 at 1:32 pm

> > High Tech companies do not contribute much to the financial ecosystem of Palo Alto

How do they manage to contribute anything to Silicon Valley? Would the Bay Area be better off without High Tech companies?

Posted by Maria, a resident of Downtown North
on Jan 15, 2013 at 2:01 pm


The entrance of ALL tenants (including you) add externalities to the ecosystem. As a citizen of Palo Alto and business owner, I'd much prefer to have the vitality of technology companies than that of another Starbucks or similar, which by the way hardly contribute to the local coffers because they put everything in to-go containers --and forego taxes -- and which headquarters are not nearby; and which types also add to consumerism instead of the global long term brand equity of Palo Alto, and Silicon Valley.

In addition, it is the City's policy to not be involved in picking and choosing who enters the business mix and who does not. In the same vein they will not advocate for or against SurveyMonkey, regardless of what they do. It is up to the landlord and tenant to agree to that.

The City's job is to make sure that certain process takes place to mitigate pollution, traffic, and all the externalities you mention. Growth has externalities, but it also has long term intangible value, that you cannot hold the City Manager to be able to measure that. It is not his job.

It is entirely obvious that all the squeaky wheels in these posts are always against growth. And they entirely forget why it is their property values continue to increase, while the Palo Alto economy has not collapsed like every other town in America in the last few years. Guess why? It is because we have hosted these sort of companies( and their employees) that have had a global impact, and the only ones that actually export worldwide.

These words and my time is wasted, in any case. Go back to your rock you want to live under.

Posted by makin' da moola, a resident of Fairmeadow School
on Jan 15, 2013 at 2:38 pm


By which, you mean JOBS, right?

Guess not. Get rid of all the companies. Think how great PA will be! Imagine, no one in restaurants to disturb your meal!

At least until they close due to lack of business!

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