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Shop Talk: Renowned Indian restaurant expanding; SF Pilates studio coming downtown

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In the latest Shop Talk column, read about a modern Indian restaurant and a yoga studio that offers fast-paced workouts coming to downtown Palo Alto, plus the return of a beloved neighborhood eatery.

RENOWNED INDIAN RESTAURANT EXPANDING ... Anu and Vikram Bhambri operate modern Indian restaurants in San Francisco, New York City, Chicago, New Delhi — and come this fall, downtown Palo Alto. They're opening a new restaurant at 473 University Ave. The space was last occupied by Arte Ristorante, which closed temporarily last January and never reopened. The Bhambris, originally from Delhi, started their careers in the tech industry. Both worked at Microsoft in Seattle. Anu said she was always dissatisfied with the Indian dining scene in the United States, which felt unrepresentative of the full breadth and depth of the cuisine. "Most of the restaurants in the U.S. were doing heavy curries. That is not what Indian cuisine is about," she said. "We want to change the perception of Indian food." The Palo Alto restaurant will have a distinct focus on Indian grilling and kebabs, Anu said. Her favorite is the galouti kebab, patties made with different kinds of meat and spices that "melt in your mouth," she said. They're aiming to open in Palo Alto this fall. — E.K.

SF PILATES STUDIO COMING DOWNTOWN ... MNTStudio, the pilates and barre fitness center founded by San Francisco ballerina-turned-pilates-pro Elain Hayes, is opening a new studio in downtown Palo Alto directly across the street from YogaSource. The studio submitted a building permit in May to remodel a 1,447-square-foot space at 145 Hamilton Ave. MNT opened in San Francisco's SOMA district in 2013 after Hayes reportedly developed her own special program that incorporates athletic techniques with traditional pilates moves for workouts that achieve faster changes in the body. She personally teaches all of MNTStudio's instructors. In addition to its fast-paced workouts, the studio also provides onsite childcare and an in-store boutique, according to the MNT website. — L.T.

MIKE'S CAFE IS BACK ... The return of Mike's Cafe, a humble, longtime neighborhood eatery, might be one of Palo Alto's most anticipated restaurant openings of the year. Customers and neighbors stopped by the 2680 Middlefield Road space in Midtown for weeks as it visibly neared opening and called owner Mike Wallau and his other restaurant in Portola Valley, desperate for news. After shuttering for a year and a half for a major renovation and expansion, Mike's reopened for dinner last Thursday, June 20. Two years ago, Wallau took over the former Peninsula Hardware space with plans to expand. He tore down the wall between the old Mike's and the hardware store, adding new bathrooms, an open kitchen, pizza ovens, a communal dining table and a gleaming 18-seat bar made from 100-year-old Douglas fir wood. The former Mike's space seats 40 and the new dining room, 50. "I made a big decision," Wallau said, standing in his restaurant's brand-new dining room. "I did this because I really felt ... Midtown has always needed a place where neighbors can say 'hi,'" where staff and diners know each other by name and gather often over comfort food. — E.K.

Compiled by the Weekly staff; this week written by Elena Kadvany and Linda Taaffe. Got leads on interesting and news-worthy retail developments? The Weekly will check them out. Email shoptalk@paweekly.com.

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