Ladera community rallies to save pizza place


After 24 years of serving pizza in Ladera, Round Table restaurant in the Alpine Road shopping center could be closed as soon as this weekend.

In response, members of the Ladera community are rallying to keep it open. Portola Valley resident Trish McBride is helping coordinate a fundraising campaign for the restaurant.

The restaurant owner, Jim Meola, told the Almanac that longtime debts from his now-closed pizza place on Alameda de las Pulgas in West Menlo Park have him behind on his rent by about $4,500. The corporate owner of his building in Ladera, known as 3130 Alpine Road LLC, has threatened to close him out if he can't come up with the money, Mr. Meola said.

The restaurant serves about 2,000 customers a month, seats 40 and employs 18 people, Mr. Meola said.

Saving the business

As of Thursday morning, the campaign to keep the restaurant open reported have 50 donors, Ms. McBride said in a telephone interview.

The campaign reminded her of "It's a Wonderful Life," Ms. McBride said, referring to the popular 1946 movie in which a small-town community rallies to rescue a savings-and-loan bank.

"It's kind of like everybody's pitching in," she said. "In general, it's been a very positive thing."

An online forum has had comments suggesting that the pizza place be replaced by an upscale establishment such as a restaurant "with wine and all that fancy foodie stuff," Ms. McBride said. "I think we need to preserve this. We need somewhere that will serve our kids' community."

This Round Table tracks the order history of its phone-in customers, allowing them to call and order "the usual," she said.

Checks made out to Round Table Pizza can be taken to Nino Gaetano, a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage at 116 Portola Road at the corner of Alpine Road, Ms. McBride said.

Asked to comment, Mr. Gaetano, a third generation resident of Portola Valley, replied: "We're actually trying to keep Main Street going in Ladera. We just want to help (Mr. Meola) out. He's a vital member of our community."

The property management company, he added, "has been very gracious and really working hard to keep Round Table open."

For more information about the fundraising campaign, write to to contact Portola Valley resident Trish McBride, who is helping to coordinate the campaign.

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Like this comment
Posted by Pizza lover!!!
a resident of Portola Valley: Brookside Park
on Sep 29, 2011 at 1:57 pm

OK - so you realize this is just the beginning. You actually have to PURCHASE the pizza too. We are regulars there and were sad to hear Jim was closing the parlor. But the bandaid of $4500 will be of no value (except to save Mr. Meola's credit) if you do not frequent the restaurant! If you are making your coffee at home, for example, do you think Konditorei will keep their doors open? How is that extra $20 per week doing to help out? By all means, if your circumstance hasn't changed, neither should your spending.

Best of luck to ALL the Mom & Pop shops trying to keep their staff employed and their communities served!

Like this comment
Posted by Lulu
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Sep 30, 2011 at 11:47 am

Has meeting payroll also been a problem? Rent is one budget item, but ensuring the employees are paid on time and with sufficient funds is also important.

Like this comment
Posted by Angela Hey
a resident of Portola Valley: Brookside Park
on Sep 30, 2011 at 9:25 pm

This is a good place to help Mr Meola with ideas to keep the pizza place open. The best thing is to support it. Here are some ideas, although I really don't have any great ones for a pizza cafe so I threw out a few questions to stimulate some thinking:
1. If you have a great pizza there tweet to your friends and invite them along.
2. If you want it to stay open take your friends there.
3. If you don't want such high carbs choose salad from the salad bar.

Can the landlord can reduce the rent by say 10%?

Would Round Table attract more people if it had new paint or rearranged seating inside (so it's not so draughty)?

Would it have more customers if it were not a Round Table pizza store, but instead had gourmet pizzas with different toppings? Is this feasible?

Who would buy pizzas in bulk? Trail repairers??

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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