Palo Alto Weekly

Eating Out - August 3, 2012

Shop Talk

STEALTH FITNESS STUDIO ... A casual walk past the new Xercise Lab in Palo Alto's Town & Country Village doesn't begin to tell the story of what goes on behind the glass doors. A small retail shop that sells fitness items is all that is visible from the front door. But Xercise Lab's space may surprise visitors who step farther inside. "It does look deceptive," said Jenny Rowe, who opened the fitness center in June. The back portion of the 2,000-square-foot space is dedicated to a modern fitness studio. Although the fitness studio is a roomy 900 square feet, Rowe allows only 15 students per class to give everyone ample space. Another feature in the studio is the sprung hardwood floor that is built to be shock-absorbing. "It's bouncy. We have springs underneath the floor, just like the springs in a mattress," she said. A Los Altos native and Palo Alto resident with three young sons, Rowe said she saw a need for children's fitness as well as adult's. "There's hardly any P.E. in schools any more. They get one P.E. class a week for 30 minutes. That's it," she said. So part of Xercise Lab's mission is to offer fitness to kids. One non-dance program, appropriately named Recess Lab, offers 45 minutes of intense cardiovascular and strength training "disguised as fun," Rowe said. A 25-year veteran of the fitness industry, Rowe saved her money over the years so that she could create Xercise Lab. "I don't have any investors. I started this from scratch. I guess I'm an entrepreneur at heart."

SURVIVOR: MACARTHUR PARK ... MacArthur Park, one of Palo Alto's oldest and grandest restaurants, has shown its determination to survive throughout its 31 years. While the restaurant was once considered a Peninsula hot spot, its future is now uncertain. "Our 99-year-lease with Stanford is coming to an end on June 30, 2013," restaurant assistant manager Matt Lavery said. But he remains hopeful. "We're optimistic we'll find a new location, either at the Stanford Shopping Center or somewhere nearby," he said. Lavery, who has been affiliated with the restaurant since 2003, admitted that it has seen better days. "We definitely don't get the crowds the way we used to," he said. The restaurant stopped serving lunch at the end of March and is now open only for dinner. But it continues to be a popular destination for parties and celebratory events. "We actually do a lot of big events. Many of them take place on our patio," he said. And it's one of the few restaurants in this area that can accommodate as many as 300 diners at one time across its six rooms. But Lavery acknowledged that there remains confusion about the future of the restaurant. Recent news mentioned the possible demolition of the historic Julia Morgan building, with a large theater complex replacing it. There's also talk that the historic building could be moved to another location. "Because of the confusion, we're doing different promotions to keep people aware of the restaurant, especially our happy hour. We also do a prime rib dinner on Friday and Sunday for $19.18, which is the year this building was built," Lavery said.

BAKERY CLOSES ... Anko Bakery, which was previously known as Alison Bakery, closed its doors last week at 4131 El Camino Real, Suite 104, in Palo Alto. Neighbors in nearby Barron Park expressed concern that the nearby Cold Treats ice-cream and frozen-yogurt shop would also close, but a woman who answered the phone at the business would not comment on the possibility. A man at the bakery also declined to answer the Weekly's questions.

Heard a rumor about your favorite store or business moving out, or in, down the block or across town? Email shoptalk@paweekly.com.

Comments

Posted by Howard, a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 5, 2012 at 6:11 pm

The demise of MacArthur Park is long overdue.


Posted by going-going-gone, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 5, 2012 at 6:27 pm

Alison Bakery was not likely to succeed because of its location. Even though Starbucks and sandwich shop are big draws, the bakery didn't offer much to compliment these two draws. The products were somewhat overpriced.


Posted by Gus L., a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 5, 2012 at 6:43 pm

I will go out on a limb and say a billionaire developer wants the land so bad he can taste it.. He will build a center there and put his name on the building...


Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 5, 2012 at 9:20 pm

I thought it was already determined that the MacArthur Park spot will be high-rise parking for the HSR station.


Posted by PA Native, a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Aug 6, 2012 at 2:04 am

I never understood the appeal of MacArthur Park. Parking is terrible, food was never good and service was snooty. I think their success was due to their uppity atmosphere, something new for the 80's. I'll be first to wave bye-bye.


Posted by neighbor, a resident of another community
on Aug 6, 2012 at 9:43 am

I adore MacArthur Park. Good food, quiet, sophisticated -- and the historical building and setting is a gorgeous bonus. It's a lovely gateway to the University and a good buffer between the increasingly dense/ugly development along University Ave.

Are the "low density/no parking" freaks going to protest a high-rise going onto the site?


Posted by Munchen, a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 6, 2012 at 10:33 am

I also love MacArthur Park and hope they find a new place. There are no better ribs anywhere!


Posted by the_punnisher, a resident of Mountain View
on Aug 6, 2012 at 10:45 am

the_punnisher is a registered user.

Spring was never waiting for us, girl It ran one step ahead As we followed in the dance

Between the parted pages And were pressed in love's hot, fevered iron Like a striped pair of pants

MacArthur's Park is melting in the dark All the sweet, green icing flowing down Someone left the cake out in the rain

I don't think that I can take it 'Cause it took so long to bake it And I'll never have that recipe again, oh no

I recall the yellow cotton dress Foaming like a wave On the ground around your knees The birds like tender babies in your hands And the old men playing checkers, by the trees

MacArthur's Park is melting in the dark All the sweet, green icing flowing down Someone left the cake out in the rain

I don't think that I can take it 'Cause it took so long to bake it And I'll never have that recipe again, oh no

There will be another song for me For I will sing it. There will be another dream for me. Someone will bring it.

I will drink the wine while it is warm And never let you catch me looking at the sun And after all the loves of my life After all the loves of my life, you'll still be the one

I will take my life into my hands and I will use it I will win the worship in their eyes and I will lose it I will have the things that I desire And my passion flow like rivers through the sky

And after all the loves of my life Oh, after all the loves of my life I'll be thinking of you and wondering why

MacArthur's Park is melting in the dark All the sweet, green icing flowing down Someone left the cake out in the rain

I don't think that I can take it 'Cause it took so long to bake it And I'll never have that recipe again Oh no, oh no, no, no, oh no

-MacArthur Park

Probably just as useless as the song....XMq


Posted by John, a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 6, 2012 at 11:27 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by neighbor, a resident of another community
on Aug 6, 2012 at 7:07 pm

To "the_punisher"
The MacArthur Park restaurant can't be faulted for the lyrics of the song....and maybe the restaurant was named after MacArthur Park in LA, which existed for 50-60 years before the song.

In recent years LA's MacArthur Park was refurbished and has enjoyed a tremendous resurgence in popularity. It's an extremely popular jazz concert venue.

I appreciate the LA Park and the PA restaurant.


Posted by helene, a resident of Midtown
on Aug 7, 2012 at 12:57 am

Several years ago MacArthur Park restaurant was delicious with a lovely atmosphere. I no longer care to dine there as I find the food is not very good. Bring in a new chef with great ideas, and I think the restaurant could turn around.


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