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The Counter plans to close Palo Alto site after 15 years

Original post made on Jul 13, 2021

After serving up custom-made gourmet burgers in Palo Alto since 2006, The Counter is closing its doors at 369 California Ave. by the end of this month.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, July 13, 2021, 9:33 AM

Comments (25)

Posted by Claudette
a resident of Woodside
on Jul 13, 2021 at 10:36 am

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It’s a shame....the counter is so family friendly, quick and easy before games at Stanford, walkable for many , and lots of choices......it’s always about money. Never community.


Posted by Consider Your Options.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 13, 2021 at 10:50 am

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[Post removed.]


Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 13, 2021 at 11:22 am

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It's a shame that California Avenue has lost so much of what made it great. Between the previous lengthy closure (to redesign the sidewalks and streets) to COVID, the street has lost some fantastic stops. My husband and I used to enjoy visiting No Knew Books, lunch at The Counter and picking up dessert from the Palo Alto Baking Company. With the closure of The Counter, this is all gone now.

There are still some great spots on California Avenue and the adjoining streets in Palo Alto's "second downtown." However, the vibe has changed now. How many restaurants have failed or closed in this area now?

Not only is the cost of rent high, but the City comes up with incredibly bad ideas that hurt the ability of a business to succeed. The $25/day parking garage (replacing FREE parking) certainly didn't help.


Posted by Laurian Cannon
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jul 13, 2021 at 11:33 am

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No big loss as foo-foo burgers are just another way of overcharging for a relatively mundane offering.

The losses of The Boardwalk in Los Altos and The Oasis in Menlo Park will be far more missed than this place.


Posted by TorreyaMan
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 13, 2021 at 11:35 am

TorreyaMan is a registered user.

It seems that Premier Properties merely sought a new tenant when the current one declined to renew its lease. As to the monthly and other terms, we can't comment because that information is not public. As to the franchise closing, we too will miss it although we have actually preferred the one in Mountain View.


Posted by Joe Harper
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 13, 2021 at 11:52 am

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>The losses of The Boardwalk in Los Altos and The Oasis in Menlo Park will be far more missed than this place.

No, no they won't. I'm not saying PA version of the counter was good. But neither was the Oassis--bored, uncaring staff....no thanks. And Boardwalk? Their most recent reviews on yelp before shutting down said it all, screaming kids running completely apesh-- through the restaurant... more than a few reviewers cited this.

I do agree though, the MV version of The Counter did seem better. Even though one night they clearly forgot our food. I posted a picture of an empty table next to us and captioned it "Empty tables all around and yet 45 mins and still no food." About 3 minutes later a manager and server showed up and comped us everything. Pretty good. I paid for the beers and since we had those...let him comp the rest

As for "lines down the street" when opening. Maybe. On day 1. I remember the Counter in PA for the staff. At first, FOH was all young females. Then I suppose after the owners figured out high school kids have better things to do than show up for work, you got to see the usual mix of people who are servers and hosts...Including males!


Posted by fred
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 13, 2021 at 12:31 pm

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I’d say that their next door neighbor out competed them.


Posted by James
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 13, 2021 at 12:47 pm

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Could it be the Zareen next door expanding? Its business is going gangbusters, easily the most popular restaurant on California.


Posted by Lei Ping
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jul 13, 2021 at 1:18 pm

Lei Ping is a registered user.

Maybe open a cafeteria-style Chinese restaurant instead?

Everyone likes Chinese food and the current Palo Alto demographics suggest an emerging Mandarin sphere of influence in many neighborhoods.

You can get a decent hamburger just about anywhere but finding good Chinese food is always a hit and miss prospect.


Posted by side splitting
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 13, 2021 at 1:18 pm

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Most in town don't even know what there once was in the name of great burgers on California Ave, or PA in general.
The last great burger on California Ave was Kirks!.....unfortunately the grease on grill the new Kirk's location in T&C isn't nearly as flavorful.


Posted by jhskrh
a resident of Mountain View
on Jul 13, 2021 at 1:58 pm

jhskrh is a registered user.

Franchise restaurants are cookie cutter business opportunities, no unique identity. Mountain View’s Clarke’s Charcoal Broiler closed for good after 75 years, family owned Mario’s Italiano closed after 35+ Years. We will miss both but a closed Peet’s, Panera, Jamba Juice, Cheesecake Factor, Starbuck’s etc? No loss there. They will just be replaced with another franchise.


Posted by Bill Ross
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 13, 2021 at 3:35 pm

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Agree with Joe Harper. However, given the Owner one could conclude that they believe they can get a “higher class” tenant. Time will tell. Certainly won’t be replaced with retail.


Posted by Bystander
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 13, 2021 at 4:27 pm

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It is impossible to get the choice of toppings, the choice of bread, or sauces anywhere other than the Counter. Where else will you find grilled pineapple, grilled onions and wholewheat buns???? I will definitely miss all their flavorful offerings. Fortunately there is another location which will be getting my business.

Otherwise it is back to the carbon copy, bland burgers without any real innovations. Sigh.


Posted by PA Community Advocate
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 13, 2021 at 7:41 pm

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Great to see another bland, soulless chain restaurant leaving Palo Alto. Hopefully a great ethnic local favorite emerges.


Posted by Larry Delgado
a resident of Ventura
on Jul 14, 2021 at 9:17 am

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>>Hopefully a great ethnic local favorite emerges.

Rather than be held hostage by greedy landlords, struggling restaurants should consider investing in food trucks and situate them all over Palo Alto...a mobile food court offering a variety of exclusive restaurant specialties.


Posted by Mike
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 14, 2021 at 9:31 am

Mike is a registered user.

I liked their burgers


Posted by Evergreen Park
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jul 14, 2021 at 12:06 pm

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There is no $25 a day parking in the new Sherman Ave parking garage. Since it was opened last winter, it and all other parking spaces in the California Ave commercial area are free with no time limits.

Those interested in dining at restaurants on California Ave have always been parking to park for free for 2 or 3 hours, depending on the location. The $25 charge only kicks in for all day parking, and is intended to encourage employees to purchase a parking permit which is equivalent to about $2 - $3 a day, depending on the number of days one goes to work there. In addition, lower-wage workers can purchase a discounted parking permit for much less. Parking is not an issue in the California Ave area, although I do agree that it was not helpful for the City and businesses to close the street to traffic, extend dining to the street, and thus eliminate between 75 - 100 parking spaces, depending if you count spaces now reserved for short-term parking for picking up take-out and side street parklets.


Posted by Paly mom
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 14, 2021 at 2:48 pm

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Our family like In-N-Out burgers among The Counter, Shake Shack and Gott's. Never interested in Wahlburgers.

It's so expensive eating out in Palo Alto now. But food is not particular good with high price.


Posted by YentaThe Renter
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 14, 2021 at 3:49 pm

YentaThe Renter is a registered user.

What cal Ave needs is a Dive Bar…hold the sushi and bring back Anotonio’s! That would be smart thinking…but then…


Posted by YentaThe Renter
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 14, 2021 at 3:50 pm

YentaThe Renter is a registered user.

What cal Ave needs is a Dive Bar…hold the sushi and bring back Antonio’s! That would be smart thinking…but then…


Posted by Terrace Antelope
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 14, 2021 at 4:52 pm

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I liked their burgers, but not their service. Surival of the fittest will hopefuly works its ways into a better (and not franchised) new eatery.


Posted by Open Range
a resident of another community
on Jul 15, 2021 at 11:53 am

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The Counter = a highly overated SoCal chain with overpriced & overated burgers.

Anyone can make a hamburger at home and anyone who pays $15.00+ for one needs to get their head examined.


Posted by [email protected]
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jul 15, 2021 at 12:40 pm

[email protected] is a registered user.

To The Counter Management:
Open a new brick and mortar restaurant in downtown Menlo Park.
Santa Cruz Ave needs more dining establishments, and there are many vacancies to choose from.
Plus, It's halfway between your Mtn View and San Mateo locations.


Posted by Aric Chopra
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 15, 2021 at 5:16 pm

Aric Chopra is a registered user.

I like In&Out Burger...very reasonable and cooked while you wait + they offer the not so secret 'secret menu'.

Being East Indian from a devout Hindu family, I have to sneak-out every now and then to have a cheeseburger.

It beats being vegan.


Posted by larryncelia
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 18, 2021 at 11:57 am

larryncelia is a registered user.

The counter had a great run, 15 years in one location is pretty darn good! But also cool to see over time that other places have kept Cal Ave a great destination with fresh new choices. And the next Counter is only a few minutes down the road.


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