Palo Alto Weekly

Eating Out - June 28, 2013

Shop Talk

BABBO'S GOES DARK ... The venerable Babbo's Restaurant, a fixture for 24 years at the Stanford Shopping Center, closed last month. "Things changed. It was time to leave. So we had to close Babbo's with a heavy heart," said Paulette Fono, who owned the restaurant with her husband, Laszlo. Running the European-style restaurant was a labor of love for the Hungarian-born couple. "It was my life, my passion," Fono said of the 50-seat restaurant. "At one time, we were operating four restaurants in the mall." In addition to owning Babbo's, the couple also ran Bravo Fono, Cafe Andrea and Madame Paulette, all popular eateries in the 1980s at Stanford. Babbo's was known for such dishes as hand-made tortellini, lamb shank with polenta, and bread pudding with creme anglais and brioche. It was the Fonos' last restaurant. "It was a privilege to serve our customers," Fono said.

BIGGER KITCHEN ... Dino Tekdemir, the effervescent owner of Anatolian Kitchen, has big plans for his business. He is taking over the former space of Ramona's Pizza, located next door to his restaurant at 2323 Birch St., Palo Alto. Ramona's closed May 1, leaving a trail of pizza lovers surprised and dismayed. Tekdemir plans to create a bar, lounge and private dining room in the additional 1,000 square feet of space. "We're hoping to be ready and finish all construction by late October," said Tekdemir, who sent his building plans to the city this week for approval. "When they approve, we start," he said. Anatolian Kitchen opened about three years ago, and Tekdemir said he did not expect the success. He recently opened a second restaurant and wine bar in San Francisco's Union Square, called First Crush. "I now split my time between the two restaurants, but I'm mostly here in Palo Alto," he said. As for Ramona's owner Carmen Tejada, she said Tekdemir's offer to buy her space was somewhat of a relief. Her son, Mario, had worked long hours with little vacation time to manage the restaurant, and she said the family couldn't afford to hire someone to help manage it. "I was very emotional — selling the business when we had such wonderful, loyal customers who we'd served for such a long time."

Send tips to shoptalk@paweekly.com. Online editor Eric Van Susteren contributed to this report.

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