News of the imminent closing of Fosters Freeze on Oak Grove Avenue in Menlo Park has given birth to a groundswell of support for finding a way for the community to continue to enjoy the shop's burgers and ice cream treats whether by moving the building and its equipment, or reassembling the equipment at another location.
Fosters Freeze manager Sung Lee, citing the high cost of living for him personally in the Bay Area, recently posted a sign on the shop window announcing his intention to close at the end of September.
Business is "a very little bit down ... but there's not enough sales to make a living around here. I decided to close (and) move out of the Bay Area," he said in an interview. "The middle class can't stay here. The living costs are so high."
Menlo Park City Councilman Ray Mueller is leading the effort to save Fosters Freeze and is looking ahead to a brainstorming session soon with volunteers.
"The challenge has been identified. There is a vision around what people would like to see," he said, adding: "I'm not Pollyannish about whether this will be difficult to achieve. ... I understand that this is going to be tough. I just feel that it's something that will be worth it."
"It's success will be determined by the strength of the passion of the community behind it," he added.
Mr. Mueller identified three options, in order of preference:
■ Find a location and move the building there and have it operate as an independent business.
■ Find a building with the space to take in the equipment and Fosters Freeze trim to recreate the shop's aesthetic, and put out a request for proposals to find someone to run the business.
■ Find an existing organization, perhaps a nonprofit, willing to recreate the aesthetic and run the business, perhaps in a park.
Any of these options might turn into opportunities to create jobs for youth, Mr. Mueller said.
Mr. Mueller said he's already talked with, and been rebuffed by, the owner of a downtown property. He said he has also spoken with and is waiting to hear back from a "youth-focused organization" on the idea of recreating the Foster Freeze aesthetic inside an existing building "within the downtown area."
"It's a connection to the past that you can enjoy with your family," he said.
"Today our family often frequents Fosters Freeze in Menlo Park for dipped cones and milkshakes," Mr. Mueller wrote in an email. "Places like this provide an intangible value to a community, tying a magic from generations past to our present."
The current owner of the property where the Fosters Freeze is now, Greenheart Land Co. of Palo Alto, will probably not be taking action within the next three months, Mr. Mueller said.