They met at a Menlo Park Planning Commission meeting on Aug. 23, when the commission voted 4-3 to approve a use permit for he Beverages & More chain to open a store at 700 El Camino Real, in the former location of Chili's restaurant.
They share a passion about preserving small, family-owned businesses. And they decided to work together to appeal the commission's decision and ask the City Council to overturn it.
On Monday night, Oct. 4, the two Menlo Park women -- Maureen Hogan and Barbara Rosasco -- made their case against the BevMo permit to a sympathetic audience, members of the nonprofit group Hometown Peninsula, which works to help locally owned businesses and also opposes the BevMo permit.
About 30 people gathered to hear them in the Menlo Park Presbyterian Church meeting space behind Ace Hardware in downtown Menlo Park.
Ms. Hogan and Ms. Rosasco gave them a preview of the case they plan to make to the City Council on Nov. 9.
Ms. Hogan said she and her husband decided to move to Menlo Park from Palo Alto three years ago. "We liked the downtown and felt it was a very family-friendly area," she said. When she was young, she noted, her family owned a small business.
Her key argument is that the BevMo store does not meet the required standard of "necessity and convenience" to award a use permit. There are already 14 places in Menlo Park that sell alcohol within a three-mile radius, she said, including the Safeway store on El Camino Real, across the street from the proposed BevMo site.
In addition, she said, BevMo would be detrimental to the community since a majority of its revenues will be "cannibalizing sales" from local merchants, who have stronger ties to the community and their employees. Based on numbers from city staff, Ms. Hogan said the net sales tax gain for Menlo Park would amount to only about $17,000 a year.
Ms. Rosasco said she was recently repatriated after living for 20 years in Japan, where she owned a small business. "What unmet service is (BevMo) providing?" she asked, noting that there is already a BevMo in Redwood City.
Local merchants, she said, have a personal relationship with staff, provide better working conditions, and support "countless community events."
Many Menlo Park residents oppose the BevMo application, she said, and 1,500 of them sent the city postcards expressing that opposition. In recent days, the City Council's e-mail inboxes have been swamped with messages of opposition.
Among people in the audience at the Oct. 4 meeting was Councilman (and candidate for re-election) Heyward Robinson, who said he agrees with the "sentiment" expressed at the meeting, but couldn't go beyond that since he will be sitting in judgment on the issue when it comes before the council.
Another candidate at the meeting, Peter Ohtaki, said he generally supports businesses coming into Menlo Park, but he didn't think BevMo "makes the cut" due to its negative impact on local business and the fact that there are already 14 places in Menlo Park that sell alcohol.