Beer Garden BBQ
The positive signs are impossible to ignore. Downtown Menlo Park is now re-opening in ways that offer residents and visitors many more reasons to enjoy it than existed BEFORE COVID-19 virtually shut it down.
This trend represents what I hope is just the start of a major transformation of downtown Santa Cruz. While it would remain important for running errands, for grocery and specialty shopping and for personal services, downtown could also offer a whole lot more. Ideally, it would become a hub for outdoor dining, regular small-scale entertainment, and frequent social activities.
MAHS Jazz Band (Every Sunday Afternoon)
• During the pandemic, many restaurants, e.g., Left Bank, Bistro Vida, Roma, Galata Bistro, and Camper, built beautiful new outdoor dining areas. These places are already popular and are now attracting even more customers. Some restaurants have also enhanced the outdoor dining experience by introducing regular live music.
• The new temporary community plaza in front of Walgreen’s is becoming a popular destination for people to socialize, relax, work, and enjoy new events. Starting this month, I will publish a monthly calendar of the growing number of downtown events planned for this summer, e.g., holiday celebrations, BBQs, wine tastings, live music, small screen movies, and a lot more. (Note: View calendar at bottom of this post)
• New businesses have opened downtown, e.g., Pedago Electric Bikes, the 360 Fitness Superstore, the Main Gallery, and the Mandarin and Farmhouse Kitchen restaurants; and others are expected this summer. These will significantly reduce the blight from vacant storefronts and offer residents many more appealing options to eat and to shop. (Note: View the status of downtown vacancies at bottom of this post)
None of this could have happened without strong support from our city and substantial investments by local restaurant owners - at a time that both were experiencing extreme financial hardships. The closure of a single lane of Santa Cruz between Doyle and Curtis and limited access to a small number of street parking spaces and sidewalks allowed restaurants to create wonderful European-style outdoor dining areas. All have injected tremendous positive energy into our downtown.
The owner of Bistro Vida, Ali El Safay, deserves special praise, as once again he has demonstrated his extraordinary love of Menlo Park and personal desire to make our downtown more appealing. He donated the picnic tables that enable everyone to relax, socialize, eat, drink a morning coffee, and enjoy special events in the temporary community plaza. Ali has sponsored BBQ’s, a beer garden, and live music, and he is planning many more events for this summer. His staff also regularly cleans the plaza. The Menlo Park Chamber of Commerce recently recognized Ali’s outstanding community service with its annual Golden Acorn Award.
Downtown Street Closures – One Great & One Bad
Two lanes of Santa Cruz Avenue are currently closed to vehicle traffic. The closure of the eastbound lane between Doyle and Curtis is a blessing, as it permits outdoor street dining and creates safe space for the temporary community plaza. This closure has only modest negative impact on downtown eastbound traffic because of its location near El Camino. On the other hand, the closure of the eastbound lane between Evelyn and Crane provides minimal benefits for the community but has two big negative impacts. First, vehicle traffic attempting to enter downtown both from the west end of Santa Cruz and from University (next to Fremont Park) is immediately blocked at Evelyn and redirected to Menlo Avenue. This closure surprises, inconveniences and irritates motorists. Also, after school, Hillview students regularly bypass the street barrier and ride bikes against vehicle traffic using the opposite westbound lane. While this unsafe behavior has been repeatedly reported to the city, nothing has been done to stop it. This situation creates bicyclist and motorist safety and city liability exposures.
Hillview Students (Riding To Starbuck's)
Monthly Special Events Calendar - July 2021
Status of Downtown Retail Vacancies
Welcome to my blog.
Your constructive contributions increase the value of community discussions, and I encourage participation.
On The Almanac Online bloggers - not the editor - establish guidelines and moderate comments.
Please adhere to these guidelines; otherwise, your comments could be removed.
- Stay on topic. ( Note: I decide if a comment strays too far.)
- Focus on ideas, concerns, issues, trends that either affect or could affect Menlo Park.
- Discuss other people's views and share your own but do not personally attack others
- Avoid disrespectful, disparaging, snide, angry, or ad hominem comments.
- Opinions are more effective when supported by reliable facts and reputable sources.
In general, please help keep this a welcoming place for everyone.