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Los Altos standby The Boardwalk to close after 38 years

Uploaded: Jun 2, 2014
After 38 years of serving classic burgers, pizza and cold beers in a comfortably unpretentious setting, The Boardwalk in Los Altos is closing its doors.

Michele LaBarbera, daughter of original owners Bernie and Doris Tougas, said Monday that months-long negotiations with a new building owner over a lease extension failed, resulting in the decision to close.

"(The owner is) going to be pushing out and up and it just became prohibitive for us to try to stay," she said.

RKT Group LLC, with Vish Agarwal listed as the property owner, purchased the 4940 El Camino Real building in 2013 and in April of this year, won approval from the Los Altos City Council move forward with plans to redevelop the space, which The Boardwalk has occupied since 1975. According to the Los Altos Town Crier, the project includes plans to add 3,679 square feet and various updates for the decades-old mixed-use building. The additional space includes approximately 2,700 square feet of first- and second-floor office space and a 915-square-foot addition to the front of the building, which faces El Camino, according to the Crier.

Agarwal said Monday he is "not supposed to comment" on the project.

"I personally have nothing to do with it," he said. "There's a LLC behind it and I have nothing to do with it."

LaBarbera has been negotiating with the new ownership since December 2013 to extend her family's lease, which is up at the end of this month.

"We've been trying to work this through the last six to nine months and just weren't able to get it done," she said.

She doesn't want to cast a negative light on the new owner, who she acknowledged has full right to the building, and would not say how much rent she was being asked to pay to extend the lease. But, she said, times are changing in Los Altos.

"You know, Los Altos is a changing town and we're just so sorry that we're not able to be a part of it.

A post on The Boardwalk's Facebook page announcing the closure had garnered just under 100 comments by late Monday afternoon (it was posted Sunday, June 1). Comments range from "You will be missed," to "so many great memories there" (including somebody's first beer at age 21 30 years ago) to "Find a new location ? For many of us The Boardwalk was the last man standing?"

The Boardwalk's last day of business will be this Wednesday, June 4. LaBarbera said her mother will be there. Her father died nine years ago.

"There will be pizza and we'll open up the taps and say goodbye to The Boardwalk," LaBarbera said.

The family still owns and operates six Bay Area restaurants, including The Oasis in Menlo Park. LaBarbera said she'll be on the lookout for a new Los Altos location.

"We will greatly miss that community as well I think as they miss us," she said.

Check out the Mountain View Voice's review of The Boardwalk from August 2009, "We'll be havin' some fun."
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Manlo Punk, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park,
on Jun 2, 2014 at 8:14 pm

Had many a good beer, burgers and other fair at the Boardwalk. Places like these need a home and I hope they find another.

Thanks Boardwalk! Will be going tomorrow or Wednesday for the closing bash!

Posted by MVJim, a resident of Rex Manor,
on Jun 3, 2014 at 12:02 am

Dangit! Wish I had more advance notice so I could visit one last time.

Posted by NW Resident, a resident of North Whisman,
on Jun 3, 2014 at 8:44 am

Another great one bites the dust, thanks to "redevelopment." I've been going there off and on since the late 70's and had a great end-of-season party for my Little League team there about 5 years ago, as well as some nice family dinners in recent years.

Beer, wine, pizza, burgers, sandwiches, sports on TV and arcade games for the kids. We need more places like this where anyone from adult softball teams to family parties can have a great time.

My hat is off to the LaBarbera and Tougas families for their longevity in our community.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Jun 3, 2014 at 9:32 am

This is such bad news.

The young sports fans in our family have loved going there for years and is one of the best sports bars for families that we know.

Once again, somewhere affordable and family oriented is going and there is another teen hangout lost to us.

Quality of life issues are becoming a big deal around here. Developers are catering to themselves and we, the residents, just have to fit in with their ideas. The Counter is not a replacement for Burger King, we have lost Fresh Choice (yes it was getting tired looking but it catered for a need), Marie Callenders - similar story, yada yada yada. Sears is gone, Sports shop gone, shoe shop gone, all places our family used all the time.

Sad sad sad.

Posted by member, a resident of Midtown,
on Jun 3, 2014 at 9:46 am

Heading over tonight for one last night!

Posted by Chick-fil-haay!!!, a resident of Monta Loma,
on Jun 3, 2014 at 10:21 am

It would have been nice to have this story published a week or two prior to tomorrow's closing. You know, so people can make plans. Just sayin.

Posted by USA, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on Jun 3, 2014 at 12:17 pm

I am very sad to see it go.

I have been going there for 30 years. I went there with my girlfriend, now wife, and now family.

Posted by Louise68, a resident of Menlo Park: other,
on Jun 3, 2014 at 2:37 pm

Greed, greed, and more greed is what seems to have destroyed yet another family-friendly retail business. More unneeded offices being built. Sigh.....

And I agree: the Almanac really should have published this story two weeks ago, to give more people more chances to say farewell to the Boardwalk.

Posted by Elena Kadvany, a resident of another community,
on Jun 3, 2014 at 2:43 pm

In response to the comments regarding posting this story earlier: I heard of the news yesterday, and The Boardwalk ownership posted their announcement on their Facebook page Sunday evening, June 1.

Posted by Boris, a resident of Castro City,
on Jun 3, 2014 at 2:46 pm

I lost my virginity in that place (Carlos, if you're out there, I remember it like it was yesterday!). It will be missed.

Posted by Pumping Iron, a resident of Rengstorff Park,
on Jun 3, 2014 at 2:47 pm

I didn't like that there weren't any roller coasters there. I mean, it was called The Board Walk. False advertising.

Posted by Carlos, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on Jun 3, 2014 at 3:17 pm

Boris, I wish I felt the same, but I don't remember it or you at all.
I guess it's because you weren't my first. Sorry to break it to you after all this time.

Posted by Kathy, a resident of Downtown North,
on Jun 3, 2014 at 3:20 pm

Find another place so I can stop in when I come back to the Bay area.

Loved your food and prices.

Posted by Sparty, a resident of another community,
on Jun 3, 2014 at 5:22 pm

Sparty is a registered user.

That location only exists in the first place because of "redevelopment." Unless that building magically appeared after the big bang.

Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community,
on Jun 3, 2014 at 7:05 pm

Really wish i owned a building(s), would love to have tenants like this. My office workers would have a good meal, after dinner and weekend crowd. Instead boring offices with a Subway nearby

Posted by Facebook Friend, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks,
on Jun 3, 2014 at 9:34 pm

Maybe it will become a restaurant with sliders, tapas, smoothies and sushi

Soothsie anybody?

Posted by Thomas Clark, a resident of another community,
on Jun 3, 2014 at 10:14 pm

Hey Mr. I'm not supposed to say anything....SAY something.....

Posted by Reader, a resident of another community,
on Jun 3, 2014 at 10:41 pm

Vish Agarwal wants everyone to know that he has nothing to do with it. Uh huh. Right.

Posted by Jeremy E., a resident of Midtown,
on Jun 4, 2014 at 1:57 am

This is a very abrupt closing. Shame on the landlords. There has been a large sign out front recently advertising a renovated office building, and I wondered what this would mean for The Boardwalk, but there seems to have been no word until now.

I really wonder at landlords and the companies behind them who force out successful, beloved businesses; this seems to be happening more and more frequently in the Bay Area. How can people who make these decisions sleep easy? Do they check their consciences at the door when they go into business? How can you own property in a city and ignore the people who live there?

The Boardwalk has been one of the few restaurants open late on weekends; it's where many of the theater companies in the area go for cast parties: Foothill Musical Theatre, Los Altos Youth Theatre, Peninsula Youth Theatre, Paly Theatre and others; some nights you could go in and practically find them all there together.

No more. The Los Altos City Council approved this with nary a concern for The Boardwalk, it appears, and a lot of enthusiasm for having a shiny, new building. I mean, who cares about existing businesses, people, traditions and community when you can have something shiny and new? Money and appearances are frequently what count most to the landlords, businesspeople and politicians in our society: serving people and looking out for the needs of others are further down the list.

Posted by Go Away!, a resident of Mountain View,
on Jun 4, 2014 at 11:28 am

Of course all it takes is a landlord like here who has no ties to the community, takes no accountability for anything and hides behind his "corporate shield". I find it disheartening. I wish he'd go away.

Posted by Los Altos Resident, a resident of Los Altos,
on Jun 4, 2014 at 12:40 pm

The City Council members that made this decision should be ashamed of themselves. They should have made a condition that the new landlords come up with a reasonable agreement with the Boardwalk. I wrote this to the councilwoman who made the decision, but no reply, of course.

"Dear Val Carpenter,

I am very disappointed that you and your colleagues unanimously approved the proposed changes for the 4940 El Camino Real building which has tragically resulted in the closure of The Boardwalk sports bar and restaurant. I was saddened to see that the developer "spiffing up" the building, as you put it, was more important than the loss of a community treasure that has been a social gathering point for locals for the last 38 years.

This strip of El Camino has proved to be difficult for restaurants (Pineapple Grill, Fresh Choice, Marie Callendar's have been a few of many recent closures); the Boardwalk was both popular and profitable, a true diamond in the rough. That the closure is just a week before the beginning of the World Cup, the biggest sporting event in the world that takes place every 4 years, just rubs salt in the wounds.

On your website you claim that you "strive to balance desired changes with preserving what is cherished". I don't think you have done a good job in this instance to attain that goal and will remember that at re-election time."

Posted by Richard, a resident of Community Center,
on Jun 4, 2014 at 4:29 pm

I have been going to the Boardwalk for almost over 30 years and have had so many good memories there. I will truly miss it and look forward to them reopening somewhere else.

Posted by OneTime, a resident of Mountain View,
on Jun 4, 2014 at 5:30 pm

Great place, sorry to see it go...

If all of the comment-ors are true to there hearts, Express your American Right and Vote the city Council out, If you want to affect change. Just don't talk about it...

Hey it's in menlo park but I bet you could snag the BBC Building right now..

Best of Luck Boardwalk Owners.

Posted by tommygee54, a resident of Rex Manor,
on Jun 4, 2014 at 5:35 pm

I knew nothing of this restaurant until 2005 when I discovered it by accident!! And I had been driving by 'The Boardwalk' for years but just did not notice it. I am sorry I did not find it sooner. But yes even though I found this place in 2005, I still have my memories. But wow, another long time eatery biting the dust. This time for changing times in Los(t) Altos. Now I will have to discover The Oasis in Menlo Park and try their steak sandwich meal.

Posted by Sparty, a resident of another community,
on Jun 5, 2014 at 7:57 am

Sparty is a registered user.

Still hasn't sunk in? They were in an office bldg. So... if no one had created an office bldg--which from this thread is a terrible thing...they wouldn't have been there.

And we keep invoking restaurant losses--restaurants that went bankrupt.

If you can prove that cities along El Camino caused entire chains to go bankrupt you have a point. If not, then ...

It's not always corporate America pulling strings of city councils. Look at Peking Duck in PA. Dirty dirty dirty outside. Dirty dirty inside. They couldn't even be bothered to remove trash or cut weeds on the outside of their building.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Jun 5, 2014 at 12:24 pm

Happy Donuts closing too :(

Posted by Rupert of henzau, a resident of Midtown,
on Jun 5, 2014 at 5:23 pm

Notice how any time a property owner exercises his right to do with his,property as he wishes, he is called greedy. I assume that all these homeowners that are complaining will be more than happy to sell their homes at a substantial discount. Otherwise they will be trying to maximize their profits like these " greedy" landlords.
Also when does renting a place entitle you to lease the place forever?

Posted by Jim LaBrie`, a resident of another community,
on Jun 6, 2014 at 9:33 pm

In 1985, I moved from Phoenix to the Bay Area to work at the Sears store in San Antonio Center. My first visit to The Boardwalk was that summer, and I've gone there at least once per year since.

Favorite memory - doing NCAA pool drafts there the last 12-14 years.
Worst memory -- watching Tom Niedenfuer give up the home run to Jack Clark in the 1985 NCLS.

There was nothing remarkable about The Boardwalk, except that it was always there. It's really disappointing to hear it's closing.

Posted by Dennis, a resident of Fairmeadow,
on Jun 9, 2014 at 4:17 pm

Big deal and get a life. The only memory I have of that place was looking down while eating and seeing rats through the "boardwalk" plank floor.

Posted by Effra, a resident of Los Altos,
on Jun 17, 2014 at 1:24 am

I have fond feelings of the Boardwalk, but I hated the way my clothes reeked of burger grease when I left after eating there . . .

Posted by Jana, a resident of Green Acres,
on Jun 25, 2014 at 5:47 pm

The El Camino strip of family friendly places between Palo Alto and Mountain View have been lost. The reputation of what a great place to live here is being scarred by greed. I moved into a family home purchased many years ago and am not rich just a hard working family. Its so sad there are so few places to enjoy an evening under 40.00. Hats off to Sunnyvale my old city, I do miss the inexpensive casual restaurants. Lets just pray the Sweet Shop stays Sweet.

Posted by tommygee54, a resident of Mountain View,
on Jan 27, 2015 at 8:30 pm

Perhaps The Boardwalk can relocate to a new location---At the location of the former Fresh Choice! That place would make a great location for The Boardwalk---and just across El Camino from Los Altos.

Posted by Tom Mueller , a resident of Santa Rita (Los Altos),
on Jul 10, 2016 at 8:02 pm

I grew up eating there. I moved away in 83 but visit my parents often. I last had a burger and beer there in 13. I was very saddened today when I drove there and found it gone😢

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