CALAFIA ENDS 9-YEAR RUN ... Google's first-ever chef, Charlie Ayers, closed Calafia Cafe this week after nine years of serving farm-to-table California cuisine at Town & Country Village in Palo Alto. "The costs were greater than the take. I couldn't operate that way anymore," Ayers said. The closure was publicly announced in a brief typed note from Ayers, posted on the restaurant's door: "It was a good 9 years Thank you Palo Alto!" Ayers said the closure was not prompted by any problems with Town & Country management. He did not answer further questions about Calafia's financial state and how long he had been considering the closure. Ayers left Google to open Calafia in 2009, "realizing his dream of owning a neighborhood spot serving organic, sustainable, healthy, delicious food," the Calafia website states. Ayers took over one of the El Camino Real shopping center's larger spaces. There was the sit-down restaurant on one side and the takeout-focused Market A Go-Go on the other. Calafia won for best California cuisine for several years in the Palo Alto Weekly's Best Of competition. When asked what's next for him, Ayers quipped, "Opening a pizza place on Mars with Elon Musk!" —E.K.
TOY-TESTING SHOWROOM COMES TO STANFORD ... Palo Alto moms Hanna Chiou and Anne-Louise Nieto are launching a new kind of toy store where parents can watch their children try out toys in a living-room-like showroom before buying items later from the duo's online site. Their venture, Habbi Habbi, is set to open as a three-month pop-up at Stanford Shopping Center (across from Williams Sonoma) this fall. The showroom — designed to look like the "ultimate great room" with floor-to-ceiling chalkboards, an indoor swing and plenty of space where kids can touch, feel and engage with products — will showcase toys, language-learning tools, books and other items that Chiou and Nieto carefully researched and curated. The duo said the showroom was designed for both parents and kids and mixes elements of museum, home and play room so families can play and discover in a welcoming environment. "Our goal is really to provide an amazing experience," Chiou said in a press release. —L.T.
Compiled by the Weekly staff; this week written by Elena Kadvany and Linda Taaffe. Got leads on interesting and news-worthy retail developments? The Weekly will check them out. Email email@example.com.
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