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Cal Ave hair salon to split in half to open wine bar

Uploaded: Feb 13, 2015
Lori Romero has operated her hair salon, True Salon, at the corner of California Avenue and Birch Street in Palo Alto for a decade. Come this spring, however, the 2,460-square-foot space will no longer just house a salon, but also a wine bar.

After a year of dreaming and planning, Romero closed the salon last week for renovations, which most notably include splitting the space in half and turning the other side into an upscale, "prohibition meets modern day" wine bar.

Romero lives in Campbell, but spends much of her time in Palo Alto, where both she and her husband work. She said they often griped about not having a lot of places for people their age (she's in her forties) to get a nice glass of wine and socialize. (Though they actually came up with the idea for opening their own place while with another couple at The Wine Room on Ramona Street downtown.)

"Most places have a bar and it's a restaurant with a bar, or it's a sports bar," she said. "We were just looking for something a little more upscale and a place that we would like to go."

Romero since decided that splitting the salon in half would be easier than finding a separate space to open this dream bar, and partnered with a friend who's been a South Bay bartender for 20 years (by her own admission, her best experience in the industry is consuming wine). They're currently getting a deeper (and more official) wine education through the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET), Romero said.

Named Calave (pronounced as if there's an accent over the second "a") for the street it's on, the wine bar will have a range of European wines as well as from Chile, Australia, California, Washington and Oregon. There will be eight wines on tap, as well as beer (and some by the bottle).

Romero is also planning to serve small bites ? charcuterie, cheese, desserts, flatbreads, paninis and the like ? that will also be available as lunch items for hungry Cal Ave workers and visitors.

Romero said after deciding to use the 299 California Ave. space, they also discovered it had historical significance: the site was once the home of Mayfield Brewery, which opened in 1868. When Palo Alto went dry in the late 1880s, Mayfield remained wet (and reportedly rowdy). Read more on the history of the Brewery in this Stanford Historical Society piece.

The site's history informed the Calave concept ("prohibition meets modern day"), Romero said, though the focus remains on wine rather than beer.

Romero said they're aiming for an April 27 opening date.

Comments

 +   9 people like this
Posted by Former-Truer, a resident of Midtown,
on Feb 13, 2015 at 11:32 pm

True was a great hair salon when it opened, and for several years after. Then it seemed it became hard to book with my usual stylist (whom I had followed to True from her previous salon) and there was quick suggestion by the receptionist to book with some other stylist who was more available. Who wants to see a stranger????

I soon found that I could only book with my own stylist if I asked to speak to her directly. Seems True was funneling business away from the steady money-makers toward new stylists that had no existing clients, assuming the steady money-makers would continue to generate new clients to feed the salon. BAD MOVE!

Then my stylist (who was among the first that helped open True) went on maternity leave, and when she returned she was given a new station in the back, away from the natural, light-giving windows, rather than her previous station out front. Amazing that women can treat other women this way. When she decided to move on I completely understood why and followed her to her new salon. I hope her other clients did as well.

I won't be visiting "Calave."


 +   8 people like this
Posted by Mike Keenly, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park,
on Feb 15, 2015 at 8:48 am

When I read this post, I couldn't stop thinking about cut pieces of hair that would end up in my wine. I'm sure they'll figure it all out, but my first impression is this doesn't sound very appetizing.


 +   8 people like this
Posted by Bob, a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows,
on Feb 15, 2015 at 9:41 pm

That's really exciting! Cal Ave is rapidly getting less sleepy. The Nuthouse is a good place to go out if you are a Stanford student, but it's not as appealing afterwards.

It's also inspiring to see someone switching careers to pursue her dream.

I'm looking forward to seeing if Calave can match its competition on University Ave.


 +   7 people like this
Posted by palo alto'n , a resident of College Terrace,
on Feb 16, 2015 at 7:20 am

I am very excited to see this coming to our community. I have asked around and do know for a fact that the salon and wine bar will not be shared open space. I was told by a worker and saw for myself that there is a huge wall floor to ceiling that separates the two businesses. So Mike, no hair clippings in your wine ;)

This is a fantastic idea as I would have been very sad to see True leave as it is a fantastic salon that I have been going to for 7 years now.

A wine bar is going to be a great addition to this area. My husband and I will be able to walk and not have to worry about driving and parking. Can't wait!


 +   7 people like this
Posted by Ingrid, a resident of Menlo Park,
on Feb 16, 2015 at 8:24 am

Lori has exceptional taste as we saw in how she designed True Salon, so no doubt Calave will be another great designed wine bar.

I am excited to have an upscale wine bar...we could use that in the area, as an alternative from a noisy sports bar.
Last Fall, I saw some of the preliminary designs of Calave - can't wait for it to open!


 +   5 people like this
Posted by Rowe, a resident of Mountain View,
on Feb 16, 2015 at 4:30 pm

I've followed Lori since the mid-90s. This new venture is not half hearted, not a whim. I am so excited to know that her business savvy is going to expand into a new venture that is sooooooooooooooo appealing and a great addition to the area and the demographic. I'm a 50 year old professional who would love to find a place to chill out and hear conversations with friends, vs competing with a tv screen blasting overhead. I will be one of Calave's patrons and I intend to broadcast that out to my friends, colleagues!


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Guest, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Feb 17, 2015 at 11:14 am

This is bound to fail: who wants to drink and eat surrounded by a chemical and wet-hair stink?

One remote possibility for success is if the hair salon's patrons are also daytime lushes!


 +   7 people like this
Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Feb 17, 2015 at 1:38 pm

It's interesting to note that most commentators on this thread are assuming that the salon and wine bar would be open to each other - no walls. I'm pretty sure the county health code will not allow that, let alone ABC.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Joseph, a resident of Adobe-Meadows,
on Feb 17, 2015 at 9:11 pm

Isn't there already a wine bar on CA ave? Vino vids something ?


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Bunch of Winers, a resident of Midtown,
on Feb 17, 2015 at 10:32 pm

Hooray! Palo Alto definitely needs cool and interesting locally-owned places for "grown ups" to meet and hang out over delicious food and nice wine.

I'm only shocked at all the whining going on in the comments above.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Albert, a resident of another community,
on Feb 18, 2015 at 7:38 am

California av needs a nice place like this! Looking forward to going! Also, I'm sure that both businesses will be wall separated. If not, no big deal. I'm sure many salons in SF and LA areas serve drinks and food to their clients.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Jay Park, a resident of Jackson Park,
on Feb 18, 2015 at 8:13 am

@Joseph:

Vin Vino Wine is a retail wine shop. It's not a wine bar, though they do have regular tastings.


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Max Hauser, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on Feb 18, 2015 at 10:34 am

"VVW" (as it's affectionately known to wine geeks in the region and to the local wine trade) actually _has_ functioned partly as a de-facto wine bar for a contingent of regular customers for at least 25 years or so. But those are people largely tasting wines they're considering buying by the bottle. Some of them have been doing this at VVW and elsewhere for a decade or four, and know their way around the inventory, though the place is also useful for anyone who wants to try the wines the shop is currently tasting. The sheer regularity of some customers (who either live nearby or make it part of their routine) adds to the wine-bar image, which was already being noted in online discussions of the place by the early 1990s.

Not the same, though, as a place focused mainly on the bar function, serving the casual public that wants to drop in and find wines it likes, rather than the particular genre or producer the shop is showing that week.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Elena Kadvany, education reporter of the Palo Alto Weekly,
on Feb 19, 2015 at 3:03 pm

Elena Kadvany is a registered user.

To all the readers concerned about getting hair in their wine (or vice versa): owner Lori Romero told me that the two businesses will be completely separated by a wall.

"The health department never would have allowed something like that," she said.

For those curious to learn more about Vin Vino Wine down the street, here's a review from October: Web Link


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Jenn Davies, a resident of Palo Alto Hills,
on Feb 26, 2015 at 2:55 pm

I'm excited to see this happen! I think she's right-- there's a niche audience that would like an upscale bar that's still a fun place to hang out. This sounds like the perfect compromise. And if the wine is good as well, then this place could have it all. Web Link


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Mark Leach, a resident of Greenmeadow,
on Mar 4, 2015 at 12:29 pm

The fact that they are splitting in half doesn't surprise me. Alcohol is pretty expensive when served by the glass and can really help to boost profits for this business. It might even become a destination for a women's outting or something like that.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Stephan Bashkir, a resident of Palo Verde,
on Mar 18, 2015 at 3:58 pm

I think this is a really great marketing idea for the salon. By bringing people into the location for the wine bar, they can see the great work that gets done there. It draws people in and can lead them to coming in for more business. Plus, who doesn't love a wine bar? It will generate a lot of revenue and create more foot traffic to her salon. [Portion of post removed.]


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Laila, a resident of another community,
on Mar 31, 2015 at 12:44 pm

I wonder how this will work out for the company. I think it is a very unique mix of companies. I can't say that after going to the salon to get my hair done, have I ever thought to go to a wine bar, but it may be something to look into. I would love to get an appointment at this place and see what it is like. [Link removed.]



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