BACK TO WORK ... After closing its doors for 16 months, HanaHaus reopened its coworking space in downtown Palo Alto on July 30. The long-awaited return was marked in celebratory fashion with the Palo Alto Chamber of Commerce, which presented a plaque to HanaHaus. Staff proudly watched as a green ribbon was cut at the entrance to the University Avenue location, where people can pay for a spot by the hour. The workspaces range from open seating to large meeting rooms and lounges. Blue Bottle Coffee, which operates a cafe in the space (once home to the historic Varsity Theatre), gave away "Buy One, Get One Free" cards to the first 50 customers, plus goodies for one lucky reopening-day customer. The occasion was momentous for Collin Sommerhauser, the head of HanaHaus Palo Alto and a business development manager at SAP, which launched the space in 2015. In a July 30 LinkedIn post, Sommerhauser described how he stepped into the job in March 2020 as stay-at-home orders were issued to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and he was "discouraged and anxious" about the future. He also expressed his joy about leading the reopening of HanaHaus Palo Alto. "It's been one of the wildest rides of my life, and it's almost surreal to think that it's actually happening."
IN THE LIMELIGHT ... Six Midpeninsula entertainment venues and arts groups are among the local organizations that will receive federal relief funds designated to help small music and entertainment businesses affected by the pandemic, Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, announced July 28. The half-dozen arts companies are among 16 such organizations in the 18th Congressional District that are set to receive a total of $13.8 million through the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program run by the Small Business Administration to provide financial support to small music and entertainment businesses that had to temporarily close due to the pandemic. The program's aim is to keep the businesses going and help keep workers on the payroll, according to a press release from Eshoo's office. "These local venues drive the Bay Area's unique culture and economy, and it's wonderful to see them opening back up with the help of these federal funds," Eshoo said in the press release. The companies picked for grants include local institutions such as the Palo Alto Players, which will receive $128,167. The group is marking its 91st anniversary this season. Another local recipient is Quarter Note, which has been granted $111,178. The program was established as part of a COVID-19 relief package that passed in December 2020. Eshoo helped secure additional funding for the grant program through the American Rescue Plan, which passed in March. For a complete list of recipients in the 18th Congressional District, visit eshoo.house.gov.
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