Palo Alto Weekly

Eating Out - April 18, 2014

Shop Talk

DAY CARE CENTER AT FORMER SU HONG SITE ... When Su Hong restaurant relocated four years ago to a more visible site on El Camino, it left its sprawling building vacant at 4101 El Camino Real, after occupying it for 12 years. Finally, a new tenant is making preparations to take over the nearly 9,000-square-foot space and transform the former restaurant into a preschool. City documents show that Acme Children Center is the new occupant, with plans for the construction of an outdoor playground and five classrooms. The school will be able to accommodate 168 kids. City of Palo Alto planner Amy French said Acme currently operates out of Cubberley Community Center, 4000 Middlefield Road.

COLDWATER CREEK TO CLOSE ...

Coldwater Creek announced bankruptcy and will close all of its 365 women's apparel stores, including the one at Stanford Shopping Center, the company announced last week. The statement came as a surprise to employees at the Stanford shop. "We found out when you found out," one store clerk said. She said that employees knew the company was in trouble, "but we didn't expect this," she said. "Customers should know that our stores and website remain open for business and we will be providing information about the tremendous values that will be available at our inventory clearance sales in the coming weeks," said Jill Dean, Coldwater Creek's president and CEO. All merchandise is currently 40 percent off. Also affected are Coldwater Creek's other Bay Area stores in the Hillsdale Shopping Center and Westfield Valley Fair Mall.

THE ANNEX GIFT SHOP CLOSES, PREPARES FOR MOVE ... The Annex of University Art, on the corner of Hamilton Avenue and Ramona Street, closed last month and has moved much of its merchandise next door to University Art at 278 Hamilton Ave. The art store announced in December 2013 that it was relocating to Redwood City after 65 years in Palo Alto. That move, due in part to Palo Alto's high rents, is tentatively scheduled for May, said store representatives.

SPORTS GALLERY CLOSES ... Yet another long-time downtown shop became a victim of skyrocketing rents. Sports Gallery, 318 University Ave., closed April 13, after 15 years in Palo Alto. "Our overhead and our rent became too much," said Jason Gruwell, who is vice-president of sales and one of four owners of the sports memorabilia shop. "We love Palo Alto; we're sad to leave, but it's the right business decision at this time. We've also noticed that the retail walk-in business is dying a slow death. People are tending to go the Internet route instead," he said. Gruwell is looking for a new location for Sports Gallery, "but it probably will not be in Palo Alto. And definitely not downtown. We've learned our lesson," he said. In the meantime, Sports Gallery has a Mountain View warehouse at 922 San Leandro Ave., which will be turned into a showroom, according to Gruwell.

GROCERY OUTLET THRIVING IN ALMA VILLAGE ... Tony Tenaglia is a happy man. As owner/operator of the new Grocery Outlet, which opened two weeks ago in Palo Alto's Alma Village, Tenaglia cannot hide his enthusiasm. "I knew in my heart we were going to exceed everybody's expectations. And we have done just that," he said. Tenaglia said he arranged the store based on the buying habits of this area. "The placement of fresh and organic produce throughout the store directly reflects the shopping patterns of the community. I've seen the fresh and healthy items in almost everyone's basket," he said. Addressing earlier concerns about the presence of a Grocery Outlet in Palo Alto, Tenaglia admits it was a bumpy road in the planning process. "Initially, there were some concerns. Concern about the sign out front and concern about the previous tenant with some people thinking it would be more of the same, but that's not the case at all," Tenaglia said. The former occupant, Miki's Farm Fresh Market, lasted only six months before it was forced to close from a lack of business.

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. Email shoptalk@paweekly.com.

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