Almanac

News - February 26, 2014

Menalto Corners still on the market?

by Sandy Brundage

Conflicting reports are circulating regarding the possible sale of Menalto Corners, a 4,400-square-foot retail center at 1923-1929 Menalto Ave. in Menlo Park that serves as a popular community gathering spot.

Last week, the cafe's owner, Kathleen Daly, said a real estate agent for Cafe Zoe was told by the agent representing the building's owner that the building had been sold in a quick deal, and that no counter-offers would be considered.

Ms. Daly said she got a call on Feb. 11 from her agent, Adela Gildo-Mazzon, informing her of the sale. Sources at the cafe at the time the call arrived and those familiar with the situation confirmed the report.

Ms. Daly told the Almanac on Feb. 21 that the impression it had been an all-cash transaction was an assumption on her part, but that the conversation was clear that it was "a done deal."

The news came as a disappointment to community members who had asked the retail center's owner, Anatole Zelkin, to give the tenants time to make an offer for the property.

Now it appears that reported deal may have fallen through, although the retail center's tenants have gotten conflicting information last week on the property's status.

Despite repeated requests for clarification, Suheil Sahouria, the agent representing the building's owner, hasn't responded to questions regarding whether a sale failed to go through, beyond claiming nothing in the story was accurate. He also did not answer questions about the conversation he reportedly had with Ms. Daly's agent.

Mr. Zelkin was not amenable to being interviewed and told the Almanac at the time the first story ran that he would not give out any information.

Likewise, Ms. Gildo-Mazzon said she had no comment.

The building is listed at $1.45 million on LoopNet.

A sale could leave Cafe Zoe searching for a new home. Ms. Daly told the Almanac that she, like two other tenants — Twig and Petals and Captivating Dance by Nona — have no leases under the current owner. The fourth tenant, Habibi's Salon, was under contract.

The tenants learned that the building was up for sale in early January after negotiations over rent and utility increases fell apart.

Mr. Sahouria said the tenants turned down the offer of long-term leases.

After leaving voicemails inquiring about the sale, the tenants reportedly heard from Mr. Zelkin last week and received unclear information as to whether a deal is in progress or the building remains up for sale.

Ms. Daly has been pursuing options to purchase the building herself with help from either investors or a small business loan. During its five and a half years at the retail center, her restaurant has become a fixture in the Willows community.

Residents expressed hope that a new landlord may see the value of the community's investment in the Menalto Corners' businesses. Ms. Daly said the tenants likewise remain optimistic.

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