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May 13, 2005

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Palo Alto Online

Publication Date: Friday, May 13, 2005

ShopTalk (May 13, 2005)
ShopTalk: Seats At Peet's?

by Daryl Savage

Peet's Coffee & Tea just opened in the Charleston Shopping Center.

Although this is Peet's third store in Palo Alto, there is one big difference: Seats. Indoor and outdoor, and lots of them. Peet's is also building a wooden deck into the parking lot toward Middlefield Road for additional chairs and tables. "It will seat about 50 people," one employee said. The Homer Avenue Peet's has no inside seats and the Town & Country Peet's has limited seating.

"Yes, it's our first store with seating and we're excited about it. We've always considered Palo Alto and the Peninsula to be our home base," said Chris Sizemore, Peet's director of new stores, noting that Peet's Menlo Park store on Santa Cruz Avenue opened 34 years ago. Although Peet's officially opened May 9 at the Charleston center, its official opening will be June 4, with free coffee and tea and special sales.
As Peet's launches its new location, its next door neighbor will be packing it up. Gymboree, the colorful, musical play store for young children, closes Friday, May 13. "Our lease was up and we couldn't renew," said a staff worker at the front desk. Another tenant, just two doors down, had a similar fate: Palo Alto Orthopedic Company recently closed it doors. That site is still unoccupied, but maybe not for long. Village Properties' Manager Larry Jacobs was spotted looking long and hard through the window of the vacant site. But he was reticent about discussing future plans, "We don't normally talk about things before they happen," he said.

MIDTOWN GETS ITS BAKERY . . . And it's a good one. Esther's German Bakery confirmed that it will open its first retail outlet August 1 -- probably -- in Midtown, at 2737 Middlefield Rd., next to Subway, in the former One-Hour Photo space.

Robert Nio, who named his bakery after his wife, Esther, began his wholesale business just one year ago.
"We grew like crazy. I couldn't believe it. We have challenges keeping up with the demand," he said. One of Nio's customers is JJ&F Market.

"It flies out the door," JJ&F owner John Garcia said of Nio's pretzels and breads. "We've only had these products for a month, they're brand new, and our customers are already excited about it." Ironically, the site is also next to the original Harmony Bakery location, when it first opened in 1989.
The Harmony folks, meanwhile, Phil and Niki Nasr, are rumored to be eyeing a site in either Ashland, Ore., or Santa Cruz for a fresh start.

AT A CROSSROADS . . . A new Eastern-European grocery, Crossroads World Market, opened at the very tip of South Palo Alto, at 720 San Antonio Road. Owner Hani Haddad completely transformed the interior of the 3,600-square-foot shop, once a "Straw Hat Pizza" restaurant. It now is a specialty international market that carries foods from Russia, Turkey, Poland, Italy and Czechoslovakia, to name a few.

"It's like the United Nations here," Haddad said. "When customers stand in line, you hear all these different languages being spoken. It's nice because everyone gets along here. The Turks and Armenians get along. The Palestinians and Israelis get along. Outside, people are in conflict, but not in here."
Haddad carries the international feature throughout his market. Not only are the foods from different countries, so are the granite and marble floor tiles. Pointing to the different shapes and colors of tile, Haddad could identify where each originated: "From China, Italy, Brazil and the Philippines."
SPRING CLEANING, PALO ALTO STYLE . . . A few Palo Alto stores have decided it's time for a new look. The Gap completely closed down its two-level store for a remodel that will take four months. It plans to reopen right before the back-to-school rush. Kids Gap and Baby Gap are still open. A neighbor of the Gap, Haagen Dazs Ice Cream, also did a complete remodel and reopened last week in a sleeker, more contemporary style.

On the other end of the city, Goodwill, 4085 El Camino Way, is repainting, reorganizing and reshuffling. The store is remaining open while it primps. And Dastoor, an Indian Restaurant on the Palo Alto/Mountain View border just a mile south of Goodwill on El Camino, has redone its buffet, lowered its prices and hired a new manager and chef.

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. She can be e-mailed at [email protected]

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