News

A cafe in new Atherton civic center?

Teaching kitchen in library also reviewed positively

Atherton, which now has no commercial zoning, may soon change that so locals can buy a cup of coffee when the town gets its new civic center.

The plan is far from firm, but City Council members endorsed the idea when they met on May 20, and also gave the go-ahead to exploring a teaching kitchen for the new library.

"I feel strongly that one of the biggest draws for our new civic center is to make a new center to Atherton, for people to come to," said Mayor Rick DeGolia.

"I think the idea of a cafe could be a huge attraction to the civic center," he said. "Personally I'd love to come to Atherton and have my cup of coffee."

Mr. DeGolia said he had visited Ada's Cafe in Palo Alto's Mitchell Park library, which has only a few tables, inside and outside; it also has a very small kitchen. "It was a lovely, lovely experience," he said.

Council member Mike Lempres said, "I would, too, love to come here and have a cup of coffee."

Council member Bill Widmer lent the only note of dissent. "I'm in favor of the teaching kitchen," he said. "I think it would add a lot of value to the library." However, he said, "I'm very cautious about having other commercial or other stand-alone commercial activities."

Atherton planner Lisa Costa Sanders said the town would have to change zoning to allow a cafe. An addition to the environmental report on the civic center master plan might also be required, and an amendment to the town's general plan, but that all could be done in less than six months' time, she said.

City Attorney William Connors said allowing the cafe would not open the town to other business ventures. "There's other quasi-commercial things going on" in Atherton, he said, such as the Circus Club. "It is a little different, but it's not precedential," he said.

The staff report said that most details, including "location, vendors (if any), conditions of use, hours, and land use issues" would be decided later.

In other business, the council continued until next month the discussion of changes to the town's special events ordinance that will allow the town to recover costs of providing police, public works or other services to a special event.

A divided council also agreed to move forward with a plan to transfer the town's planning and building activities temporarily into Holbrook-Palmer Park. Council members Bill Widmer and Mike Lempres voted against the move.

"I am not in favor of putting something next to the city manager's house" in the park, Mr. Widmer said, adding that he preferred to find a place in the town center for the offices.

The offices are currently located in deteriorating temporary buildings that will need work if they are to last through another winter, town staff said.

Comments

6 people like this
Posted by Robert D.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 28, 2015 at 11:59 am

Robert D. is a registered user.

Atherton has always insisted they have no businesses in town. I would disagree.
Start with the Menlo Circus Club. This is a business complete with a full restaurant and full bar on-site. Next - Menlo College. They have a cafe, to supplement their dinning commons. This of course assumes that a college (or private schools) is not viewed as a business. Finally, the businesses run out of homes. I am not sure I would call those 'traditional' businesses though, but the tax base might be interesting.
I guess it comes down to what do you define as a business. I would argue that a cafe is no different than the 2 already listed.


6 people like this
Posted by $$$
a resident of Atherton: other
on May 28, 2015 at 12:12 pm

Where's the money coming from for all of this? Last I heard, the private donations were not materializing, and the council was considering floating a bond to pay for all of this. This is not what the voters decided. Don't understand why the Almanac hasn't covered that.


1 person likes this
Posted by whatever
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 28, 2015 at 1:42 pm

In the early 1960s there was a gas station and a real estate business on ECR at or near Atherton Ave.


1 person likes this
Posted by WNew
a resident of Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
on May 28, 2015 at 2:52 pm

Nothing commercial in Atherton?? Uber cars frequently serve Atherton residents.


11 people like this
Posted by Outside the box
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on May 28, 2015 at 2:58 pm

I think a cafe is a fantastic idea! It's likely to actually draw some residents to the town center to develop some sense of community. Over the past decade we've lived in Atherton, beyond going to the building/permit dept. 3 or 4 times when we were updating our home, stopping by the police station once to pick up glow sticks, and going to the library twice when the kids were little (we instead went to the Menlo Park library which was so much nicer), I've had no other reason to spend time in the Town Center. While I understand the need to update the dilapidated police and city mgt.buildings/portables, I've never understood why one would want to spend millions of dollars on a location that I"m guessing a tiny percent of residents spend more than a few hours in throughout their life. But, if a beautiful center is going to be built, sure would be great to make it a draw for all the residents who have outgrown libraries (even beautiful libraries). Something like the little outdoor space at the Filoli cafe or seating around a fountain like at Borrone's would be wonderful. Better yet, put in a beautiful, scenic cafe at Holbrook Palmer- maybe install some chess and checker and card tables, a bocce ball area, etc This would certainly inspire more residents to come out and get to know each other and use the park beyond the years when their children are playing on jungles gyms and sports teams.


5 people like this
Posted by Sees This and Says Wow
a resident of another community
on May 28, 2015 at 3:03 pm

That's exciting! I think Atherton needs a Hilton built in it- not to mention a monorail! This will be an exciting time! There also should be Grayline tours, restaurants and resorts. It would be an awesome place for carriage rides, too, just like Central Park. Then Woodside Road would be an excellent location for Casinos and Regal Cinemas, and a four-story mall! I've always thought that Skyline would be a terrific place for a gigantic resort and that would also help the Equine industry with horse tours. This is simply... the best!


2 people like this
Posted by really?
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 28, 2015 at 8:05 pm

really? is a registered user.

'I think Atherton needs a Hilton built in it- not to mention a monorail!'

Don't worry, they're getting HSR and are all very excited about the idea.


1 person likes this
Posted by Unsure ...
a resident of Atherton: other
on May 28, 2015 at 8:41 pm

I appreciate the idea that having a food / coffee vendor would increase the draw of the community (not necessarily only Atherton residents) to the new town center.

I'm not sure I understand the scale of the vision. Are we talking about a Phil's / Pete's / Starbucks franchise? How about a Cafe Barone or Luttikens? If not, what about a roach coach?

I'm not sure any of the above is appealing. All of them are either too commercial or too downscale.

With any good idea, the devil is in the details .. count me as need to hear more. There's not enough information to know whether I support it or not. I like the general concept but the implementation could be ugly.


1 person likes this
Posted by outsider
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on May 29, 2015 at 6:31 am

the gas station was on the corner of El Camino Real & Almendral - there was also a restraunt across the street called the Atherton Club & before that another restraunt with outside seating that I don't remember the name .(maybe Raymar Oaks? ) That came to an end tho when a car going north on E. C. R zigged into the patio seating.


1 person likes this
Posted by whatever
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 29, 2015 at 8:27 am

Thanks outsider.
However, Madam Savary’s Ramor Oaks was a block north of Atherton at 3435 ECR.


5 people like this
Posted by agnes brydges
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 29, 2015 at 3:29 pm

I think it would be nice having a place close by to have coffee and visit quietly with people, like Café Barone but much smaller and low key, with far fewer tables and people.


2 people like this
Posted by Elitism, much?
a resident of another community
on May 29, 2015 at 4:10 pm

Unsure... :"I'm not sure I understand the scale of the vision. Are we talking about a Phil's / Pete's / Starbucks franchise? How about a Cafe Barone or Luttikens? If not, what about a roach coach?
I'm not sure any of the above is appealing. All of them are either too commercial or too downscale."

Ah, yes...good enough for us plebeians outside of Atherton, though. Eh?


3 people like this
Posted by Dan S.
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 29, 2015 at 11:21 pm

If you came to Atherton for the community and the congenial atmosphere, you were sold a false bill of goods.

I bought my McMansion with the wall around it so I wouldn't have to interact with people like you. I also have my coffee flown in direct from Kona, why would I stoop to buying a cup at a local cafe?

Amateur hour.


Like this comment
Posted by Water
a resident of another community
on Jun 2, 2015 at 12:22 pm

A roach coach? I think it would have to be referred to as a "caviar car".


3 people like this
Posted by John Thibault
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Jul 16, 2015 at 4:18 pm

The little town of Siasconset on Nantucket did a great job with their café and library in the town center area. Very charming. Web Link


2 people like this
Posted by Gail Alberti
a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda
on Sep 24, 2015 at 10:06 am

I think this could be a wonderful addition to the new Town Center. Of course there would be much to work out but why not consider the ways in which such a small, beautifully placed cafe could enhance collegiality in our community? A non-profit might be a great option. I, for one, am plenty tired of the limited choices we have in our immediate area for visiting over a good cup of coffee in a relaxed setting. Unless you are a Starbucks fan or don't mind the crowds and lines at Cafe Barrone's, or the limited seating at Peet's, your shucks out of luck.


3 people like this
Posted by $$$
a resident of Atherton: other
on Sep 24, 2015 at 10:22 am

My apologies in advance for attempting to bring a dose of reality into this discussion, but I think my question is reasonable:

How much in private donations has been raised now? Is it enough to pay for the town center let alone a cafe?

Isn't that the real question?


Like this comment
Posted by really?
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 24, 2015 at 11:45 am

really? is a registered user.

You could always move Fosters Freeze into the new civic center. That would be appropriate.


Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda

on Sep 26, 2017 at 12:37 am

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?


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

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