Ginger Atherton, whose father Tony Montooth ran the peanut-strewn, unpretentious bar until his death in 2017, said the Nut House is aiming to reopen on June 10. She and her two siblings recently assumed ownership of the 341 California Ave. bar, which will celebrate its 50th anniversary next year.
The owners of Antonio's Nut House, which has been a California Avenue mainstay for decades, are looking to purchase the property or relocate to preserve the bar, whose lease ends in December. Photo by Sammy Dallal.
They plan to move all of the bar's seating into the adjacent parking lot and partner with local restaurants and food trucks to host pop-ups, Atherton said. (They're hopeful the city will proceed with a proposed temporary closure of California Avenue to further this plan.) With the taqueria inside the Nut House closing permanently, the kitchen will be available for use.
Under Santa Clara County's revised health order, which takes effect this Friday, June 5, restaurants can reopen for outdoor dining and serve alcohol with meals, but not separately. Bar areas must remain closed.
The Nut House's future was uncertain before it temporarily closed for nearly three months during the Bay Area's shelter-in-place order. The building owner has indicated he will sell the property when the Nut House's lease expires in December, leaving the siblings to determine if they could purchase the building or move to a new location to keep the Nut House alive.
They're turning to the community to raise funds for either outcome. Atherton launched a GoFundMe campaign in May. They're also planning to sell naming rights to Nut House bar stools, billiard tables and pinball machines (no word on whether the caged gorilla will be up for dibs) as well as the chance to be featured in a new mural outside the bar. There will be a new "mug club" — buy a mug and get beer for a year — and Nut House t-shirts.
"Since Tony's passing in 2017, the dedicated staff along with Tony's Children have been fighting to preserve this ICON for the Palo Alto community," the GoFundMe campaign reads. "NOW… in 2020 faced with this devastating pandemic we are more committed than ever to saving this communities [sic last remaining gathering place and social treasure."
Moving the Nut House would cost an estimated $300,000, Atherton said. The siblings are in talks for a possible nearby location on California Avenue, but their hope is to keep the Nut House in its original home.
Several customers have also indicated an interest in helping to purchase the property, Atherton said.