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Town Square

After two decades, Empire taps out

Original post made on Apr 12, 2013

Empire Grill and Tap Room, a chic and polished fixture of downtown Palo Alto for more than 20 years, is preparing to close its doors later this month.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, April 12, 2013, 9:43 AM

Comments

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Posted by The-Sun-Is-Settng-On-The-Empire
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 12, 2013 at 9:58 am

If the Empire is such a Palo Alto "institution"--why is it going out of business? Has it lost its lease because of a greed property owner, or is it that Palo Alto residents are not patronizing the establishment in numbers large enough to pay the bills?

Businesses are organic. There are reasons why they thrive, and reasons why they don't. So--what's the real story here?


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Posted by j99
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 12, 2013 at 10:11 am

Probably closing because there is so much construction and streets with construction prohibited parking in downtown Palo Alto that there is no parking left for patrons. The City Council is killing the city. I tried to go to an Indian restaurant on Alma near Lytton and at least two blocks were coned for construction work. Terrible.


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Posted by commonsense
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Apr 12, 2013 at 10:33 am

It's too far from University and has a big patio/rent bill to support. It went out of business because it was not run well enough and/or enough people chose to eat elsewhere. Why is always the greed of the developers that is the root cause of downtown's "problems"? It's called capitalism and it's a lot better than the alternatives.


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Posted by chris
a resident of University South
on Apr 12, 2013 at 10:46 am

It could have something top do with the quality of the food.


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Posted by Kate
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 12, 2013 at 10:57 am

There's never any nearby parking. And parking is an issue at night in very unsafe downtown Palo Alto.


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Posted by Silly
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 12, 2013 at 11:03 am

There's NO parking. Does the city ever wonder at the lost tax revenues?


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Posted by sparty
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 12, 2013 at 11:21 am

First and last trip to Empire Tap Room we were ignored by the bartender. So we went to Gordon Biersch. They were just fine with selling us something there. This was maybe 15 years ago. I won't miss them.

Looks like things are the same. Plenty of mentions of how rude they are in the yelp reviews over the last year


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Posted by Spud
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 12, 2013 at 11:35 am

It's sad to see them go, but when you look at sites like Yelp, it seems like their popularity (and possibly quality and service) have been declining for quite some time.

Parking may be a problem, but other places nearby (Tacolicious, Gordon Biersch, Old Pro, Nolas) seem to be doing ok, I think. Tacolicious was packed last week, I can attest, so those people found parking.

I think it's just the invisible hand. If you can't adapt to draw clientele, you can get left behind, I'm afraid. Just a theory. What happened to Maddelena's/Cafe Fino? Something similar?


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Posted by Jean
a resident of Triple El
on Apr 12, 2013 at 11:47 am

We loved it, and took visiting friends there for leisurely summer lunches. We will miss it.


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Posted by emily
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 12, 2013 at 11:53 am

Hopefully a great establishment will make great use of the wonderful patio. Empire Tap room had poor service and over priced food. And really, really odd bartenders.

I'd love to see something that truly embraces the patio there, and makes it more accessible for people who want a drink and a light meal. I'd love it to be a more casual hangout, rather than upscale dining - we have plenty of upscale dining downtown.

As for all these people complaining about parking, why not try one of the lots or the surrounding neighborhoods? There is PLENTY of parking in downtown PA, as long as you are willing to walk 2 or 3 blocks! Gosh, people are lazy!


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Posted by Yo, Yao, Yogi
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 12, 2013 at 11:55 am

"There's NO parking. Does the city ever wonder at the lost tax revenues?"

Reminds me of the Yogi Berra quote, "Nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded."


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Posted by Floyd
a resident of Green Acres
on Apr 12, 2013 at 12:10 pm

I was turned off by the food early on and I tried it many times when it first opened. The old wooden booths inside were hard on my back. Add to that the parking problem.
As I recall it replaced a wine restaurant.


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Posted by Mike
a resident of University South
on Apr 12, 2013 at 1:19 pm

The place just didn't seem inviting to us short wearing engineer types, especially with the Rose & Crown nearby.


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Posted by Stan
a resident of another community
on Apr 12, 2013 at 2:11 pm

We stopped going there ages ago because of the pompous attitude of the owner and the poor service.

I'm amazed they survived as long as they did


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Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 12, 2013 at 10:52 pm

We had some lovely patio meals there throughout the years, but the only time I sat inside it was strange. I was dining w/someone very well-known & the bartender kept coming over & interrupting our meal to talk to him. Then we've skipped it in recent times based on the poor Yelp reviews - bummer because we did like that patio.


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Posted by Henry
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 12, 2013 at 11:10 pm

Yes, the patio is lovely. I hope the next establishement will keep the patio and improve the food and service.


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Posted by Native
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 13, 2013 at 2:12 am

We went to Bucca tonight and notices Empire was packed. Wouldn't guess it's closing later this month. Perhaps it's the atmosphere people enjoy.


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Posted by Too bad
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 13, 2013 at 10:55 am

I liked walking downtown and eating a burger in their patio space. I liked the waiter that was typically there weekend afternoons.


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Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 14, 2013 at 2:02 pm

I really miss Bistro Elan ... even though it supposedly moved to that hole in the wall with 2 tables farther down off California on Birch St ... that would be the perfect place for a new incarnation of Bistro Elan. If they could re-create the incredibly wonderful patio they had at the California St. location it would be perfect! I've never eaten at a better place overall than Bistro Elan!


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Posted by Timothy
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 14, 2013 at 9:17 pm

I recall going there years ago for a happy hour. Our group was told, after being seated on the patio for a few pictures of beer, that we would have to stand if we didn't order dinner. We left, never went back, won't miss it.


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Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 14, 2013 at 11:47 pm

Well Timothy, I am sure they did not miss your patronage and you are not the reason Empire Grill and Tap is going out of business. You don' think it is a little selfish and immature of you to think that a restaurant with finite seating and a staff to pay ought to allow your and your friends to drink beer there and use the facilities probably not leave a tip too. Why would you think that is a smart or relevant thing to say anyway? There is a certain quid pro quo to being a member of society that I think you are missing. Since I assume you were of legal beer drinking age you seem kind of old to be missing that point.


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Posted by Mike
a resident of University South
on Apr 15, 2013 at 7:12 am

CrescentParkAnon,

Why is Empire going out of business?

Please enlighten us.


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Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 15, 2013 at 9:13 am

Mike, a resident of the University South neighborhood
> Why is Empire going out of business?

Mike, now how would I know the details, but I'm fairly sure it ain't because Timothy and you and your beer drinking friends did not go there often enough to just drink beer and exercise the handles on the urinals.


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Posted by AAA
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 15, 2013 at 10:23 am

"We stopped going there ages ago because of the pompous attitude of the owner and the poor service.

I'm amazed they survived as long as they did"

-- YES! I loved the outdoor patio and food was decent, but the staff and owner in recent years were just rude! We went several, several times hoping for a different experience but finally decided to just stop going because we would leave frustrated. I hope a new restaurant goes in there, with better service! We would start going again.


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Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 15, 2013 at 11:14 am

> but the staff and owner in recent years were just rude!

I think this is an interesting patter that we see in Palo Alto. Someone opens a nice business, but it will eventually be a victim of its own success as the local customers are more and more displaced by in many cases around Palo Alto an arrogant professional class and their "entitlement to be rude" attitude of themselves and their children until the place is just insufferable and no fun at all. Perhaps that is what happened. Blaming the servers while they are the ones we see is easy, a lot of times servers are responding to being treated like "servants" by people who think they are or are pretending to be Silicon Valley big shots. There are many many wonderful people in Palo Alto, but when the "pretenders" get to critical mass they take over and ruin it for everyone.


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Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 15, 2013 at 11:15 am

Excuse my typo .... "interesting patter" above .... should be "interesting pattern"


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Posted by Mike
a resident of University South
on Apr 15, 2013 at 8:48 pm

CrescentParkAnon says, "Mike, now how would I know the details..." If you don't know the details, then how can you be "fairly certain" that is wasn't due to lack of good paying customers?


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Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 15, 2013 at 10:33 pm

Timothy and "good paying customers" are mutually exclusive.


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Posted by Timmothy
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 16, 2013 at 8:48 pm

crescentparkanon, do you know what 'happy hour' is? it's mostly drinks and usually precedes dinner. we were seated buy the host for happyhour, the waiter, not the host or manager, didn't like the situation, made his demand, and we left. we were there maybe 5 minutes. the place is called the empire TAP room, you know, they sell drinks, or did you not understand that bit about being a bar and restaurant. I don't think everyone who entered their doors was required to buy dinner as you suggest, do other bars demand the same of their customers? you don't seem to understand what people do at bars. no matter.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by moved away long ago
a resident of another community
on Apr 18, 2013 at 7:54 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by bru
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 23, 2013 at 9:21 pm

bru is a registered user.

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]