By year-end, it's off to a new, out-of-town home for Iberia, the popular Spanish restaurant at 1026 Alma St. in Menlo Park.
Owner and chef Jose Luis Relinque said he's in the process of finalizing the paperwork to buy a property at 740 El Camino Real in Belmont.
Iberia's last day of operation in Menlo Park will be Dec. 31. Mr. Relinque said he had initially looked for a new spot in Menlo Park after finding out last summer that a new development would leave the restaurant and adjacent businesses homeless.
"But the market is really terrible. If you purchase an existing business, or purchase nothing more than garbage, the costs are sky-high," he said.
Iberia had been located in the Ladera Country Shopper in Portola Valley for 16 years before moving to Menlo Park in 2000. The next year, Mr. Relinque and his wife and Iberia co-owner, Jessica, opened Rock of Gibraltar next door, which offers lunch items and gourmet take-out foods. That store will not be reopened at the new location, although the restaurant will probably add a "to go" lunch menu, he said.
The Belmont property currently houses a coffee shop. Mr. Relinque said he'll have to gut the space. He plans on wrapping up the application and permit processes and getting other necessities done by the end of the year.
The new restaurant, which will focus on tapas and paella, will have the same name and phone number, according to the owner, but will be more casual, with "the same vibe that it has now -- comfortable, relaxing ... the two things really necessary to enjoy the meal."
Iberia will also keep the same staff. "My employees, which are the most important part of the equation, will still be able to get there. Most of them live in Redwood City," Mr. Relinque said, and laughed. "That's more important than (keeping) the same clientele."
Local developer Lane Partners is proposing to build a 25,156-square-foot, three-story office building at 1020 Alma St. on top of a two-level underground garage, according to documents filed with the city.
Construction will require demolishing existing businesses from 1010 Alma St. to 1026 Alma St. That includes Los Salonez and Cindy Nails Spa II, as well as Iberia.
Designed by BAR Architects, the new office complex would preserve two heritage oak trees, and add six new trees and other landscaping to create public and private courtyards.
The 0.6-acre parcel is within the boundaries of the downtown/El Camino Real specific plan, and the developer may negotiate for public benefits in exchange for exceeding the base level of density allowed on the site.
Lane Partners did not respond to a request for comment. The Planning Commission will hold a study session on the project at a future date.