Who’s responsible for Allied Arts disaster? Menlo Park, posted by Mrs. S., a resident of the Atherton: West Atherton neighborhood, on May 29, 2007 at 3:01 pm
My husband and I recently returned from a six-month trip to find that the Woodside-Atherton Auxiliary to the Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford had, once again, shot itself in the foot…and this time it may be fatal. Not only have they evicted the only tenant who had ever been a consistent draw to the facility (the Palo Alto Auxiliary that ran the Allied Arts Restaurant), but they planned on replacing them with a version of the JZ Cool restaurant. Now Jesse Cool, a “for profit” restaurant owner, is not opening a restaurant at Allied Arts, claiming a “misunderstanding” about the lease terms. Duhhhh. How many customers did she expect to have with only breakfast and lunch service, no bar, no wine, no beer, severe limitations on operating hours, and no desirable retail neighbors to encourage walk-in business. My friends tell me she probably hoped to transfer a liquor license from another location to the Allied Arts restaurant. Woodside-Atherton’s leadership is naïve enough to believe that they could slip that little deception past the city and the neighbors. I don't think so, and apparently they didn’t.
Now Allied Arts has no restaurant, and no likelihood of attracting one with the operational limitations imposed by the property’s use permit. No restaurant equals no foot traffic on the property, and eventually no retail tenants. Then comes the fire sale of the property for what, apartments?….a senior center?….low-cost housing?….who knows.
The Woodside-Atherton Auxiliary’s president, Jean Coblentz, has been fixated on turning the Allied Arts property into a destination meeting and conference center. Hello!!!! In a Menlo Park residential neighborhood? With Stanford University and many local hotels offering similar services supported by experienced staff and sophisticated technology? In a rose garden setting? With limited seating capacity? Seriously, Jean, who will come? Why? You’ve been pursuing this strategy for more than a year with no success. What’s changed? Certainly not a new restaurant, to replace the legendary Allied Arts volunteer-staffed facility, with more than 75 years of service and customers who came even when there were few retail stores to browse.
It’s not hard to figure out who is killing the Allied Arts facility. President Jean Coblenz’s unfortunate combination of arrogance and ignorance will be fatal for Allied Arts and the Woodside-Atherton Auxiliary. Soon there will only be the Tally Ho, and the success of that event has steadily diminished in recent years.
There might have been some hope if Victoria Applegate, Vice President and Director of Auxiliary Relations, Packard Children’s Hospital, had done her job. Applegate’s responsibilities, among other things, include assuring that the various auxiliaries which support Children’s Hospital work cooperatively, and when conflicts arise, she should be expected to keep both sides informed and mediate any differences. Ms. Applegate did none of these things in regard to the eviction of the Palo Alto Auxiliary’s restaurant. When asked why not, friends from the Palo Alto group indicated her response was, “Because you didn’t ask me for my help.” Did this lack of effort on her part have anything to do with her prior relationship with the Woodside-Atherton Auxiliary? Was favoritism involved? Or did she simply not know that the eviction was planned? In either case, she was either ignorant or intentionally did not warn Palo Alto of the impending change, thus denying them the opportunity to prepare for other activity. Did the fact that Palo Alto had to threaten Woodside-Atherton with a lawsuit to recover thousands of dollars due them under the terms of their lease affect either Coblentz’s or Applegate’s actions? Duhhhh……!
Over the last few weeks, I’ve spoken to many concerned and disillusioned friends from both the Woodside-Atherton and Palo Alto Auxiliaries, and almost all of them feel that Coblentz and Applegate were the ones whose actions or inaction resulted in the current disaster at Allied Arts. The big loser is the hospital and the children who benefited from the volunteer-staffed restaurant’s donations. I’m very glad I went inactive at Woodside-Atherton many years ago. It’s sad to watch the slow decline of such a wonderful facility as the Allied Arts Guild. It’s even sadder to know that it could have been avoided, but for the actions or inaction of two people. It’s time we put names to those responsible for the calamity at Allied Arts, and stop referring to them indirectly by such euphemisms as “the leadership.”
If you think the concerns noted above are new and unrecognized by others, you’re wrong. Look at the many entries regarding Allied Arts in the Town Square Forum of The Almanac. I think the members of the various auxiliaries, Children’s Hospital, and the Menlo Park community are long overdue for an accounting of what has taken place at the Allied Arts complex. Tell us, Ms. Coblentz and Ms. Applegate…..why in the world have you destroyed the Allied Arts we loved so well?
Posted by Amen!, a resident of the Menlo Park: Downtown neighborhood, on May 29, 2007 at 5:51 pm
I too was a member of the WAA, and I completely agree with you Mrs. S. How sad to see the hard work of so many, over so many years dashed at every turn. Even sadder that it wasn't just one, but two auxiliaries affected. Shame on those responsible.
Posted by Celeste Smith, a resident of another community, on May 30, 2007 at 8:01 am
Wake up Woodside Atherton Auxillary!!! You used to be so successful with Allied Arts that no one could even park onsite. It was a place to enjoy great food,stroll through unique shops and ALWAYS be able to find that last minute gift at the Traditional Shop. You also along with ownership and fundraising for the very worthy cause of Children's Hospital have a responsibility to the history of Allied Arts not to ruin this historical property!
Posted by SF resident, a resident of another community, on May 31, 2007 at 3:44 pm
It is always easy to sit back and point fingers, and name people. I suggest that Mrs. S re-activate her membership and take up the cause that she holds so dear. Or then again, quite possibly she is too selfish to give up her time since she is glad she went inactive many years ago. It is so much easier for her to blame others than to take responsibility.
Posted by Jesse Cool fan, a resident of the Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park neighborhood, on Jun 1, 2007 at 1:30 pm
I am really disappointed that the auxiliary and Ms Cool weren't able to work out anything. Her food would have been a great draw to the Guild, and social events there could benefit from such high quality catering. I think her downtown site hasn't been serving breakfast or dinner, or alcohol and certainly isn't as attractive a place to eat. Something doesn't make sense in all this.
We were looking forward to the variety and quality of food at longer hours than the auxiliary ever could staff. Here's hoping attention can get forward focused on finding a quality replacement rather than looking backwards.
Posted by Kathy Nolan, a resident of another community, on Jun 3, 2007 at 6:50 am
You didn't have to be a rocket scientist to see that WAA's plans for the future of Allied Arts was flawed and doomed from the start. I mean, a facility not wired for technology and you want to draw clients for business conferences . . . duhhh. WAA would have been better served by working more closely with PAA to achieve both goals. Maybe an Allied Arts Guild Auxiliary? The competivness and arrogance of some WAA people was very apparent--I spotted it immediately and I was only a member for a short time before the closing of the PAA restaurant. And who suffers? The children.
Posted by JANELLE A. ARMSTRONG, a resident of the Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park neighborhood, on Oct 2, 2008 at 9:44 pm
AS A THIRD GENERATION RESIDENT, OF THE ALLIED ARTS NEIGHBORHOOD, AND A CHILD WHO FROLICKED AMIDST THE "ENCHANTED" GARDENS AND FOUNTAINS, PICKED STONES FROM THE PATHWAYS AND HOPPED OVER RAIN PUDDLES IN LITTLE RED RAIN BOOTS, ON RAINY DAYS ON THE GROUNDS THER. I WISH ALWAYS TO HAVE ALLIED ARTS REMAIN THE "CROWN JEWEL" THAT SHE HAS ALWAYS BEEN. UNSCATHED, AND SERENE. FOR THAT, WAS THE ORIGINAL INTENTION THAT THE "COLONY OF ARTISTS" WHO FORMED IT, WISHED FOR IT TO BE, IN THE BEGINNING.
I WOULD SAVE MY ALLOWANCE AS A LITTLE GIRL, AND THEN BUY "PRICELESS" TRINKETS SUCH AS DAINTY AND PRECIOUS CANDLES, FROM THE "WICK CANDLE SHOPPE" FOR MY NOW DECEASED MOTHER AT THE ALLIED ARTS. I AM A STAUNCH AND FEROCIOUS ADVOCATE, FOR KEEPING THE ALLIED ARTS IT IN IT'S "AUTHENTIC" STATE AS IN MY CHILDHOOD MEMORIES. IT IS A "D FLAWLESS DIAMOND" IN THE "HAYSTACK," OF WHAT IS NOW, OUR WORLD. WHEN IT WAS THREATENED WITH CLOSURE FIVE YEARS AGO, I FOUGHT WITH MANY OTHER INDIVIDUALS, TO MAKE CERTAIN THAT ALLIED ARTS WOULD NOT BE CLOSED DOWN AND DESTROYED.
THE "ENCHANTED FAIRYLAND" AS I CALLED IT AS A LITTLE GIRL, IS A FLAWLESS "GEMSTONE" A RESPITE OF BEAUTY AND CALM, AMIDST THE DAILY BUZZ OF THE WORLD. AT LEAST, THAT IS HOW I VIEWED IT AS A SMALL CHILD, A LITTLE GIRL WHO WANDERED WITHOUT A CARE IN THE WORLD, IN THE GARDENS, STARED IN AWE AT THE BEAUTIFUL HANDCRAFTS, AND HAD MUCH OF HER INNER "SELF" SHAPED ON THAT PIECE OF LAND. I HAD THE PRIVELEGE OF WATCHING ONE OF THE GREAT ARTISTS OF CALIFORNIA, DOROTHY ROE BROWN, PAINT IN HER LOFT, AS SHE LET ME LAY NEAR HER ON A SHELF IN A LARGE BOOKCASE, WITH A BLANKET, AS I WATCHED HER CREATE MASTERPIECE, AFTER MASTERPIECE OF A PORTRAIT, OF A LOVED ONE, COME TO "LIFE" FROM A PHOTOGRAPH, SITTING AT ATTENTION ON HER CANVASS. THE CLASSICAL MUSIC DRONING FROM HER SMALL RADIO IN THE BACKGROUND. HOW, CAN THESE MEMORIES BE REPLACED? HOW CAN A PLACE SUCH AS ALLIED ARTS, BE REPLACED AND NOT KEPT IN ITS SACRED ORIGINAL STATE? IT WOULD BE CRIMINAL, AND THE "FAIRYLAND" WOULD CEASE TO EXSIST. NO MORE FAIRIES? MRS. COBLENTZ, KNOWS ABOUT FAIRIES. I FELT IT IN HER. SHE IS A GOOD WOMAN. I KNOW MY "HORSES." I RODE IN THE TALLY HO, I RODE IN MANY HORSE SHOWS AT THE ATHERTON "CIRCUS CLUB." I LEARNED TO RIDE AT THE "CIRCUS CLUB" IN ATHERTON AT THE AGE OF EIGHT. SOME THINGS, CANNOT BE REPLACED. EVER. I AM A MIDDLE AGED WOMAN OF FIFTY-ONE NOW, BUT MY MEMORIES OF THE ALLIED ARTS, ARE STILL IN THEIR "YOUTH." THE ALLIED ARTS, WILL ALWAYS BE THE "FAIRYLAND" IT WAS TO ME AS A CHILD, AND STILL IS TO THIS VERY DAY.
I HAD THE IMMENSE PLEASURE OF MEETING THE MOST CHARMING AND GENTEEL MRS. COBLENTZ, AND I SHARED WITH HER MY MOST PRECIOUS MEMORIES FROM MY CHILDHOOD AS A LITTLE GIRL, WHO HELD "COURT" AS A "PRINCESS," FROM THE BEAUTIFUL AND GRAND, UPSTAIRS POWDER ROOM, THAT OVERLOOKS THE GREAT FOUNTAIN IN THE CENTRAL COURTYARD OF THE ALLIED ARTS. THIS CHARMING AND BEAUTIFUL LADY, LISTENED TO ME, GO ON, AND ON ABOUT THE MEMORIES, THAT SHAPED ME, AND GAVE ME SUCH HAPPINESS TO RECALL. MRS. COBLENTZ I AM SURE, WOULD BE WILLING AND FLEXIBLE IN ASSURING THAT ALLIED ARTS, RETAIN IT'S ORIGINAL "AUTHENTICITY" AS THE "JEWEL" THAT IT IS. THE PALO ALTO AUXILIARY WHO DID INDEED STAFF, AND RUN WITH SUCH EFFICIENCY AND DEDICATION, THE DELIGHTFUL RESTAURANT ON THE GROUNDS, WHERE LIFE COULD BE ENJOYED OVER A MEAL PREPARED WITH LOVE, SIPPED OVER A CUP OF TEA, WHILE GAZING OUT FROM THE HUGE PICTURE WINDOWS AT THE GARDENS. WE WERE PLEASED IN THAT, THE PROCEEDS FROM OUR MEALS WOULD GO TO THE LUCILLE SALTER PACKARD CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL. JUST A HOP, SKIP AND A JUMP, OVER THE CREEK FROM THE RESTAURANT. WE ALWAYS LEFT A LARGE GRATUITY, KNOWING THAT THE CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL, WOULD UTILIZE IT FOR THEIR HEALTH CARE. MRS. COBLENTZ IS A GENTLE WOMAN, I MET HER FOR A BRIEF BUT "SIGNIFICANT" MOMENT IN TIME, AND SHE PATIENTLY LISTENED TO ME RECITE FROM MY MIND'S EYE, ALL THE JOY, THE MOST BEAUTIFUL MEMORIES OF A LITTLE GIRL AND HER CHILDHOOD, AND I COULD SEE IN HER EYES, THAT SHE "COULD SEE THROUGH MY EYES." TALK, AND TALK MORE, WORK TOGETHER TO PRESERVE THIS JEWEL. IT IS ONE IN A BILLION. MRS. COBLENTZ APPRECIATES ALL THAT IS BEAUTIFUL, FOR I COULD "FEEL" IT. I KNOW THIS. COMPROMISE, WITH INTEGRITY, FOR ALL THAT THIS PARCEL OF LAND REPRESENTED THEN, AND REPRESENTS NOW. PRESERVE IT FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS TO RELISH AND ENJOY. SO THAT THEIR CHILDREN ON A RAINY DAY, CAN WANDER AND SMELL THE RAIN AND THE FLOWERS, AND FEEL THE WIND IN THE TREES ON THEIR FACES.
I AM SURE, THAT WITH ALL "THINGS CONSIDERED" THE BEAUTY, AUTHENTICITY, AND "SOUL" OF ALLIED ARTS WILL REMAIN INTACT. COMPROMISE, FOR ALLIED ARTS, IS INDEED A "FAIRYLAND" WHICH MUST BE PRESERVED. YES, I MISS IT AS IT WAS. THE "TRADITIONAL" SHOP WAS AN INCREDIBLE CORNUCOPIA OF THE FINEST OF THE FINE. THERE WAS NOT ONE SQUARE INCH, OF ALLIED ARTS, THAT WAS NOT PRECIOUS AND UNIQUE, IN EVERY ASPECT. SOMETHING THAT COULD/CAN NEVER BE REPLICATED. THANK YOU FOR LISTENING TO ME REMINISCE MRS. COBLENTZ.