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Liddacoat's (vs Menu Tree)

Original post made by Andrew L. Freedman, College Terrace, on Apr 7, 2008

This picture is from the Palo Alto Historic Association's Website.

I recall when Liddacoat’s had about 20 different food businesses competing for your lunch money. When I was working in downtown Palo Alto, I'd eat lunch there almost every day. As soon as you'd walk in, if you made eye contact with anyone behind the food counter, they would practically start to dish out what they think you had previously ordered from them. Then you'd have to say (lie), "Oh, I'm just looking. I'll be back." Sometimes they’d put on a pitiful look like, they’re going to go out of business if you don’t get your lunch from them. A little bit of a guilt trip before lunch. I recall the day that Mrs. Fields came to dedicate her cookie shop. I kissed her!

Liddacoat's was a little like Menu Tree at the Sears Shopping Center, except Menu Tree was much, much, more spacious and was geared for lunch and dinner. My dad would take me and my two brothers there for dinner once a week. He’d get us situated on the second floor at a table and then he’d go down to get his dinner. My older brother and I would then shoot straw wrappers off the second floor, occasionally hitting some unsuspecting patron, until my dad came up to join us.


Comments (7)

Posted by mike
a resident of Woodside
on Apr 7, 2008 at 3:05 pm

I believe the spelling was Liddicoats. I remember it well from when I had an office in PA.

We used to refer to it as the Vomitorium

A couple of my staff got food poisoning there, it would not pass health code these days.

Posted by Liddicoats fan
a resident of another community
on Apr 7, 2008 at 4:20 pm

Ah, yes, Liddicoats. I still miss the place. Some of the food there was great. Sako's and the middleastern booth at the entrance were my favorites. When I worked downtown it was a favorite lunch spot when we went out as a group. We could split up, grab our favorite food, and regroup to eat. No need to pick a cousine that suited everyone's tastebuds. The cockroaches and grimy tables were something we tried not to think about.

Posted by WilliamR
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Apr 7, 2008 at 6:50 pm

My recollection of Liddicoat's was that it was a regular grocery store that was converted into a food court, probably in the early 60's. Am I remembering correctly?

Posted by Andrew L. Freedman
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 8, 2008 at 8:16 am

Hi Mike, William and fan,

All of your recollections are correct. Peter Gauvin wrote a story for the Palo Alto Weekly in 1994.

It was first a meeting hall then a grocery store before it became the lunch place we knew (here’s the link).

Web Link

And yes, the story mentioned that it did have some health code violations. Well, I guess that explains why I spent more time in the bathroom then at my desk (just kidding).


Posted by Marcia (Temme) Hardcastle
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 21, 2008 at 6:00 pm

I grew up in Palo Alto in the 50s. Liddicoats was an upscale grocery. We would grocery shop once a week, first at Safeway for the staples then off to Liddicoats for fresh seafood. Everything was fresh, clean and good in those days. No one ever had to concern themselves about tainted food or food poisoning. Sad that we have to seek out quality in American markets these days. Glad I was alive then; we had a great neighborhood on Embarcadero Road and no one ever locked their doors. We made up our own plays in the garage and played games outside, no video games or color tv then. Community Center was one of my fav places. I participated in classes, theater, May day events and more. I also braved swimming lessons at Riconada freezing pool. Many good times then. Also wrote for Palo Alto Times when at Paly High where we plan a 45th reunion gathering this year on Labor Day. Life was most excellent then. Eichlers were around the corner, a big field across the street all the way to Bayshore HIghway. Enjoyed the recent Eichler remod video. Duvenek was Green Gables Elementary, which it will always be for me.

Posted by Marisol
a resident of Professorville
on Mar 8, 2013 at 2:28 pm

Menu Tree! The greatest ever! Spacious, yes, good food, inexpensive and the animated birds were wonderful. Who doesn't remember good times at the Menu Tree? The upper level always seemed to be empty. The balcony seats were great for people watching. Part of growing up in the Bay area, cherished memories.

Posted by Andrew L. Freedman
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 11, 2013 at 3:30 pm

Hey Joe (Marisol?),

Long time no see - I recal you from Wilbur, but we must have bumped into each other over the years, like maybe at one of Romel's famous parties!!

Yes, the upper level at Menu Tree was perfect for blowing straw rappers off to unsuspecting tables below.

Mark H and I get together once a week for Brew-ha-ha's at the Tide House. Good variety of beer. Are you still living in the area?

Just me - Andy

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