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December 21, 2005

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Palo Alto Online

Publication Date: Wednesday, December 21, 2005

ShopTalk ShopTalk (December 21, 2005)

by Daryl Savage

The city of East Palo Alto finally made it on the map -- the tourism map. The San Mateo County Tourism Business Improvement District last week formally added East Palo Alto to its list of cities to promote tourism. The driving force behind that decision is the new Four Seasons Hotel at University Circle. "This would not have happened if the Four Seasons was not in East Palo Alto," said Anne LeClair, president and CEO of the county's tourism board, based in Burlingame. "The Four Seasons is a beautiful, state-of-the-art property with an outstanding management team. The hotel is going to be a great benefit to our county," she said. It's the 70th hotel worldwide for the luxury chain and it comes with a distinct business philosophy - "an attempt to anticipate what a hotel guest needs and have it ready," explained Jeffrey Knollmiller, spokesman for Four Seasons. "Anyone can build a beautiful hotel. It's the services that are paramount." Those services include such perks as complimentary workout clothes for guests who forget their own at the 8,000-square-foot fitness center and spa. The hotel has also brought in technically savvy concierges who have received special training on how to deal with questions and problems unique to Silicon Valley. After several delays this year, the five-star hotel is now scheduled to open in late January.

HIGH-END SALON HEADS FOR MIDTOWN . . . A cutting-edge hair salon will open next month in the Midtown shopping center. The 2,400-square-foot "DS Newman Salon" will be the second beauty salon in the center and the fourth in Midtown. "It's a different kind of shop," said Dontay Newman, who owns the salon with his wife, Starr. "This is not a little three- or four-chair salon. We'll have 10 chairs." Newman doesn't believe he will take business away from nearby shops. "We service a certain clientele. Very upscale, very fashion-forward. This is the kind of salon you'd find in New York or London. There's enough business here for everybody," he said. Newman is so excited about opening a hair salon in Midtown that "I have to drive by every morning. I can tell you what new screw went in today," he said. "This is a dream come true." The grand opening is set for Jan. 15, 2006.

'FEMININE ENERGY' COMING TO T&C . . . No delays for "Day One," the store and educational center for new parents that is forging ahead in Palo Alto's Town & Country Village Shopping Center. "We're on time and on budget," said Andrew Zenoff, Day One's founder and CEO. The former space of the Cookbook Restaurant has been completely gutted. The store, which will open in March, plans to offer services for new and expectant parents, such as classroom instruction on breastfeeding, parenting workshops and baby gifts. "It's the Peninsula's only integrated resource center that offers community, education and products for parents," Zenoff said, adding that a community partnership has been set up with Lucile Packard Children's Hospital for pre-and post-natal classes to be taught at Day One. Zenoff pointed out the walls that were recently built near the front door. "We don't want to use sharp angles. Instead we're building in lots of curves. That's for soft, feminine energy," he said.

NO NEW MIDTOWN GAS STATION, AFTER ALL . . . Despite a wildfire rumor in coffee shops that "the fence is down" and the closed Arco gas station at 2995 might reopen, that is not about to happen, according to city officials. Amy French, the city's current planning manager reports: "ARCO pulled out the gas tanks and never put back any replacement tanks. Fire Department signed off on the tank removal some time ago. ARCO has been trying to sell the site, so it would make sense if they are trying to make the site look nice. We had inquiries from potential buyers about other uses of the site. A gas station is not imminent on this site." New tanks would require a fire department permit, and "any other use proposed there would need to request a PC (planned-community zone) amendment or submit a rezone application," French noted. Locals had been hopeful that former Arco station manager, Dee Ortiz, had raised enough money to buy the station, but he denied the rumor. The station closed two years ago.

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

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