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Mike's Diner Bar avoids eviction, plans to remain in Midtown

Original post made on Sep 10, 2023

Mike's Diner Bar, a Midtown institution that just last week was on the brink of eviction, received an eleventh-hour reprieve and now plans to remain at its Middlefield Road location and to expand its menu of offerings.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Sunday, September 10, 2023, 2:05 PM

Comments (19)

Posted by Bingo
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 10, 2023 at 4:04 pm

Bingo is a registered user.

CONGRATULATIONS Mike & Staff - and thank you to all who helped make it possible for Mike’s Diner to stay open in Midtown.
Here’s to another 29 years! Looking forward to having breakfast and lunch added to the dinner fare.

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 10, 2023 at 4:38 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Great news indeed!! And great work on the part of the community. It's about time LOCAL input counted instead of the city's reliance on consultants from afar with little or no local knowledge.

"The notice from Sheriff Robert Jonsen informed Wallau that if he failed to leave by then, the sheriff would "immediately enforce the writ by removing you from the premises."

Too bad Jonsen appears to enjoy making threats so much. A nice diversion from for him from the recent criticism he's been getting for tear-gassing mentally inmates IN their cells and requesting more military equipment and being denied because of the tear gas incidents. But undeterred he's now pushing for tasers to use against county residents.

Web Link

Web Link

Posted by ALB
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 10, 2023 at 5:53 pm

ALB is a registered user.

Amongst all the tragic news a ray of light is shining with the breakthrough settlement allowing the heart of Midtown, Mike’s Diner & Bar to continue. The landlord did the right thing. Chapeaux to Annette Glanckopf, Len Filppu, vice mayor Stone, neighbors and all the good people who made it their business to support Mike Wallau in fighting the good fight.

Posted by AdjunctProfessorville
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 10, 2023 at 7:39 pm

AdjunctProfessorville is a registered user.

Very glad for Mike and the midtown neighborhood as a whole. I do fear that this is one of those things where there’s much more than meets the eye, and the prospects for this to bubble up again are real. All that being said, no sense being a wet blanket now, wishing everyone here all the best!

Posted by Hulkamania
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 11, 2023 at 5:58 am

Hulkamania is a registered user.

Auto pay is your friend. Maybe set it up to pay a few days in advance so this doesn't happen again?

Posted by Bystander
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 11, 2023 at 7:24 am

Bystander is a registered user.

There is a great deal that can be learned from this. I am very pleased for Mike, may he work out a better way to pay his rent. I am very pleased for us the community, may we use all those useful businesses close to home on a regular basis rather than driving, parking, and giving patronage elsewhere instead of using what's on our doorstep. I am very pleased that CC spent time thinking about areas other than downtown and Cal Ave, may they continue to do so when talking about walkable neighborhoods and valuing amenities such as Midtown as community assets for local residents.

Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 11, 2023 at 10:20 am

Annette is a registered user.

Kudos to the apparently tireless Annette Glanckopf and Len Filppu for standing by Mike's and Midtown. Now we all need to continue to frequent Mike's often so that it thrives and meeting the rent obligation is never in question.

Posted by Me
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Sep 11, 2023 at 11:13 am

Me is a registered user.

I know a lot of people were upset by its possible closure but I hope they go eat there now, as he does need financial support. I fear this is just a bandage to the inevitable, hope I am wrong. I grew up in Palo Alto, left, then moved back 15 years later in the early 2000s and have still never eaten at Mike's. There is a lot of competition out there and outsiders who visit Palo Alto for restaurants go to CA Avenue and downtown. To keep it open, it's going to need more than just being a Cheer's bar where everyone knows your name.

Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 11, 2023 at 12:37 pm

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

That is great news but now it’s up to us to support Mike’s business by actually going there and having a meal…breakfast, lunch, or dinner. I’ll be a regular for breakfast since my old favorite, Bill’s, was closed after the fire shut down 4 businesses on the corner of Middlefield and Loma Verde earlier this year. And some of our Northenders and Westsiders should venture out of their zones and check out Mike’s Diner and Bar as well. And when we have visitors from out of town, let’s not take them to fancy expensive restaurants up and down the Peninsula. Just a short drive to Mike’s and I’m sure they’ll enjoy the experience just as well in a relaxed friendly atmosphere.

Posted by stephen levy
a resident of University South
on Sep 11, 2023 at 12:59 pm

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Good news but only if he has enough customers to remain open.

Posted by Retired PAUSD Teacher
a resident of another community
on Sep 11, 2023 at 1:18 pm

Retired PAUSD Teacher is a registered user.

Always enjoyed my meals with friends there. Hope it works out.

Posted by What Will They Do Next
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 11, 2023 at 6:11 pm

What Will They Do Next is a registered user.

@Poster Me and @Stephen Levy have it exactly right. Now if half of the 1450 mid-towners who signed the petition start patronizing Mike's on a regular basis, he might survive. Petitions don't pay the bills. Customers do. It will be difficult for him to stay in business otherwise. I like Mike's and have eaten there. I hope he can stay open for years to come. I don't live in Midtown but frequented Philz and Palo Alto Wine and Spirits regularly before the fire and continue to eat at or take out from Como Esta and Sancho's 3-4 times a month. There are so many restaurant options in Palo Alto that it makes survival difficult in the dining business no matter how good your product is. Nearly every time I've driven by Mike's, even pre-pandemic, the place was almost always empty except for some Friday and Saturday nights. So I guess the old adage that "you need to put your money where your mouth is", is appropriate here. No pun intended. So is "talk is cheap."

Posted by Zhi Peng
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 12, 2023 at 7:42 am

Zhi Peng is a registered user.

It is good to hear that Mike's Diner & Bar will remain open to serve the patrons of Palo Alto.

As others have noted, a steady customer base will ensure its continued success.

That said, Mike's Diner & Bar is not an inexpensive place to dine and by lowering its prices, the restaurant will draw more patrons [portion removed.]

Posted by Rex Shallert
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 12, 2023 at 3:16 pm

Rex Shallert is a registered user.

Concurring with Zhi Peng...maybe some 'early bird specials' and an 'all you can eat' night?

Posted by Gracie
a resident of Mountain View
on Sep 13, 2023 at 3:22 am

Gracie is a registered user.

I've always appreciated Mike's Cafe as a great place to stop for dinner on my way from Mountain View to TheatreWorks at Lucie Stern. I am so, so glad it's staying!

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 13, 2023 at 11:04 am

Online Name is a registered user.

"@Poster Me and @Stephen Levy have it exactly right. Now if half of the 1450 mid-towners who signed the petition start patronizing Mike's on a regular basis, he might survive. Petitions don't pay the bills. Customers do."

Is that supposed to be news? Of course customers pay the bills.

J wonder if the snarkiness about Mike's survival is related to the well-funded organized campaign to change zoning to make it tougher for restaurants and retail to survive. Pay attention to all new the shopping centers and restaurants slated for demolition to be replaced by more housing: Rancho, Sharon Heights Shopping Center and more popping all the time.

Those who praise meal delivery services while pretending to back affordable housing might pay attention to how those services are profiting from underpaying their workers, adding huge markups to the restaurant menus and charging fees to restaurants for their services.

Pay attention when restaurants and retail explicitly blame their closures on companies that willingly paid hundreds of millions of dollars in the last election to deny their workers minimum wage and any benefits including unemployment insurance -- while sticking US with the cost of housing those displaced.

Good for Mike's and the Midtown Neighborhood Assn for their rare win.

Posted by Bystander
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 13, 2023 at 1:00 pm

Bystander is a registered user.

Mike's is surviving but only he knows exactly how well he is doing. It is good to see that there are many customers, or have been while I have been there in the past couple of months. But will that stay after the buzz of the recent news deminishes?

Mike's menu is varied and there are selections which are much more affordable than others. As for reducing his prices or having happy hour prices earlier in the day, his bottom line is still what pays his bills. When we go there, we are paying for table service which is not offered at many of the cheaper restaurants nowadays. Ordering at the counter and meals brought when ready is not what I call table service. Safe clearing, reusable china and silverware, refilled water glasses, complimentary bread, mints, and clean restrooms, are all things that we associate with a meal in a full service restaurant, but all has to be paid for. Mike's portions tend to be large enough to take home for next day lunch, or a salad large enough to share. Next time you receive bread, butter, water, box for leftovers, and use the restroom toilet paper and soap, remember that these items still have to be paid for out of the cost of your meal.

Mike, well done, and thanks for giving us a table service restaurant without having to drive and park in downtown, or Cal Ave. That in itself is worth bonus points.

Posted by Silver Linings
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 13, 2023 at 5:09 pm

Silver Linings is a registered user.

This is exactly why the City should buy up property under our main retail districts--downtown, Cal Ave, Midtown, so that it owns the land the same way Stanford owns the land under Stanford Shopping Mall. Stanford doesn't own the buildings, it leases out the land longterm.

The only reason we can afford schools, government, and safety bldgs through booms and busts here is that the City or other public entity owns the property. It stabilizes costs over the long term.

It's past time we think about doing the same for retail areas. Having retail that supports residents needs is also far more environmentally friendly than everyone buying everything online, land lease money benefits the City, and there is a community-building aspect to it. If businesses get lower, more stable rents overall because the City owns the land, businesses can offer products at competitive prices. The City can also have conditions, such as encouraging businesses that best meet locals' needs, in exchange for lower more stable rents.

If businesses have lower/stable rents, it could not only encourage more Mom and Pop shops, but also allow the City to contractually ensure workers get a good wage and benefits, which will be possible for businesses because of lower rents, and worth ever more to the City over time without costing more. Instead of needing subsidized housing, workers could better afford their own.

If the City had done this with Midtown Shopping Center, which sold in 2016 for $15 million, we wouldn't have the vacancies now, and shops wouldn't have such high costs or harsh terms. Over 30 years financing, even factoring in 50% increase for financing costs, it would still only cost an extra $20-30 per year per parcel, not even counting the money PA would get for selling the buildings. We'd get it all back in being able to shop locally for toys, baby goods, books, stationery, art supplies, 2nd-hand goods, pro camera rentals, etc... And we wouldn't have such disruptions.

Posted by Annette
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 14, 2023 at 1:18 pm

Annette is a registered user.

@Silver Linings - I get the idea but wonder if the outcome would be like what we have with CPAU. The City owns the utilities and uses utility proceeds to fill the coffers of the General Fund. If the City pays market rate for a property, would the City act like a private sector landlord and increase lease rates to reflect the high Palo Alto market and have a good ROI?

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