News

Woodside Bakery owners say they have been told to close by Jan. 15

Owners say they hope for an extension of time to avoid bankruptcy

Woodside residents Mark Sweyer and his sister Jan Sweyer, since 2006 the co-owners of the popular Woodside Bakery & Cafe at 3052 Woodside Road, said they have been told to close up shop and vacate the premises by Jan. 15.

Mr. Sweyer said that on Nov. 3, George Roberts, the landlord of the commercial site at the northwest corner of Woodside and Canada roads, asked Mr. Sweyer to come to his second-floor office across the road in Roberts Market and handed him a one-sentence letter informing him that the bakery and cafe had to go.

The Sweyers say they plan to ask Mr. Roberts for an extension until May to make the transition smoother and avoid bankruptcy.

Reached by phone on Monday morning (Nov. 23), Mr. Roberts' daughter, Christine Roberts, said she and her father had no comment for this story.

The Sweyers bought the business in 2006 with a 33-month lease and have been renting the property month-to-month for the last seven years, Mr. Sweyer said.

He said they had always wanted a lease, but it never came to pass.

This turn of events was completely unexpected, Mr. Sweyer said. "I was going to give (the restaurant) to my son," he said. "Now we've got to switch gears and start all over again."

Plans for one part of that restart include a wholesale bakery in the M2 industrial zone of Menlo Park, the Sweyers said.

"Our wholesaling will be our only means of survival," Ms. Sweyer said in an email. "This will also provide places for our customers to go to purchase the Woodside Bakery baked goods they've enjoyed over the past 30 years."

The restaurant and bakery now employ 65 people "that we have to lay off for Christmas," Ms. Sweyer said. "They cried. It was very emotional."

"We understand that we have to go," Ms. Sweyer said. "We are devastated by it. This is our home. ... As we go forward, we understand that we have no recourse. We have to go. What we really hope and ask for is that (Mr. Roberts is) compassionate enough to give us time to gather enough money to get back on our feet."

Meeting all the obligations within a few weeks is impossible, Mr. Sweyer said. Without a postponement, ideally until May, they will have to file for bankruptcy, Mr. Sweyer said. "We may leave earlier if we can get on our feet," he said.

"You have no time to put a financial exit package together ... and a schedule on how everyone will be paid," Ms. Sweyer said. "The tidal wave comes over your head and you're dead. ... We need to get as much as we can so we can pay our bills and survive."

"This is about being so sad that we cannot continue going forward in the community that we grew up in and we have to leave," Ms. Sweyer said. "I would hope that the community would come to our aid and support us."

Comments

71 people like this
Posted by fwiw
a resident of Woodside: other
on Nov 23, 2015 at 11:34 am

This is really shocking and unexpected. The timing seems particularly callous. I am very disappointed to hear this news.


37 people like this
Posted by really?
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 23, 2015 at 11:57 am

really? is a registered user.

Noooooooooooooooo! Given the undeserved outcry over Foster Freeze, this should be a huge bombshell!


40 people like this
Posted by Mimi
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 23, 2015 at 12:04 pm

This is extremely sad. Woodside Bakery will be missed by me and my family and many others. Surely the timing should be reconsidered. Let us know how the community can help.


74 people like this
Posted by woodside resident
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Glens
on Nov 23, 2015 at 12:06 pm

So this is how we treat our own??? My heart goes out to Jan and Mark, longtime Woodside residents. I for one will be avoiding Roberts two markets in protest. Callous, callous, callous. Shame on the Roberts family.


42 people like this
Posted by Lucille
a resident of Woodside: other
on Nov 23, 2015 at 12:10 pm

Oh no! How very sad, and how awful for all the workers! Why is no reason given? That alone seems heartless. I hope there are no plans to tear down the building and put some big out of place building there. Please say it ain't so!


30 people like this
Posted by Jon Castor
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Heights
on Nov 23, 2015 at 12:37 pm

Jon Castor is a registered user.

Good luck to the Sweyers and the employees who've been an important part of the special feel of our Town. We'll miss the Bakery and Cafe.


36 people like this
Posted by Area Resident
a resident of Atherton: other
on Nov 23, 2015 at 1:25 pm

Area Resident is a registered user.

Filing for bankruptcy threat is a clue. A well run business does not file for bankruptcy with a 70+ day notice. It is a set back but not a bankruptcy set back. There may be more to the story that Woodside Bakery is not disclosing. You should be able to determine how much you owe your vendors and employees in a couple of days. Something just does not sound right.


36 people like this
Posted by giraffe
a resident of Portola Valley: Woodside Highlands
on Nov 23, 2015 at 1:28 pm

giraffe is a registered user.

Maybe we should all go to Bianchinis for our groceries in protest unless some compelling reason for this eviction is forthcoming.


18 people like this
Posted by Toni O.
a resident of Woodside: other
on Nov 23, 2015 at 1:36 pm

Toni O. is a registered user.

Our family loves the Bakery. Maybe we can start a campaign to save it? Not to mention Mark and Jan are so nice. Maybe some political tension having to do with the the election? Either way the Bakery is a Woodside staple.


32 people like this
Posted by Tunbridge Wells
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Nov 23, 2015 at 2:05 pm

Tunbridge Wells is a registered user.

Area Resident: a bankruptcy threat is Standard Operating Procedure in negotiations with landlords. If a company goes files for bankruptcy, the Bankruptcy Trustee has the ability to look at past rent paid, and if the Trustee determines that the bankrupt tenant has been paying higher than market rent at some time in the recent past, the Trustee can require the landlord to fork over the amount over market rate.

Landlords really, really don't want their tenants filing for bankruptcy, so a threat to file is a standard negotiating tactic. Given how little power tenants have in commercial landlord/tenant law, it's not surprising that it gets used regularly.


22 people like this
Posted by Area Resident
a resident of Atherton: other
on Nov 23, 2015 at 2:21 pm

Area Resident is a registered user.

Turnbridge:
You are right, it may be a ploy by WB but the threat is rather extraordinary. I agree a reasonable landlord does not want a good tenant to leave. The key is a good paying tenant. Assuming the landlord gave proper notice of increases, if any, it was a month to month agreement(per the article) so they were not locked into a fixed period lease. If it was onerous they could have exited any time. The bad Yelp reviews, along with a notice to vacate, suggests there may have been other issues. I doubt we will, or should, know.


10 people like this
Posted by mbetsy6
a resident of another community
on Nov 23, 2015 at 4:13 pm

mbetsy6 is a registered user.

What a shame! The Bakery is a great place to hang out and my partner and I have enjoyed many a meal there.


66 people like this
Posted by Splendor
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Nov 23, 2015 at 5:30 pm

Splendor is a registered user.

There is a backstory here people. George Roberts and his daughter have chosen to take the high road and have not aired this publicly or bashed Mark in public and I applaud them for it. Before and you rush to judgement and slam the Roberts family perhaps keep that in mind. George is a businessman and has been an important and caring member of the community for many many years. Sad to see the bakery go but not fair to vilify Roberts so quickly when you don't know the details.


5 people like this
Posted by Momto3
a resident of Atherton: other
on Nov 23, 2015 at 6:20 pm

Momto3 is a registered user.

I know were I will know longer be shopping! ROBERT's market. Such a shame to see this bakery!


4 people like this
Posted by Momto3
a resident of Atherton: other
on Nov 23, 2015 at 6:22 pm

Momto3 is a registered user.

*where


43 people like this
Posted by Western Hillsider
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on Nov 23, 2015 at 8:06 pm

Western Hillsider is a registered user.

I, too, value having the Bakery in Woodside and would regret seeing it go but think this is a complex, private business matter. The Almanac has the right...maybe even the journalistic obligation... to report what it learns from the Sweyers and the Roberts about an event of public interest. On the other hand, we don't know most of the underlying facts or background yet (if ever) and perhaps shouldn't. Taking sides at this point is completely inappropriate.


7 people like this
Posted by Jessie
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Glens
on Nov 24, 2015 at 11:42 am

Jessie is a registered user.

Those of us who live in Woodside are fortunate to live in a place where old-fashioned values still exist; a town that is unique in this fast-paced world of Silicon Valley. A place where neighbors still support one another and feel a sense of community. Jan and Mark Sweyer represent these values; having grown up here ad having, with their mother Helen, remained an integral part of the community for decades. I feel it is a sad day for this community when we lose an element of that community feel and the historical value such residents contribute. Woodside Bakery is the hub of the downtown community and much will be lost when Jan and Mark have to vacate the business that they have worked so hard to create for almost ten years.


14 people like this
Posted by CC
a resident of Woodside: other
on Nov 24, 2015 at 4:06 pm

CC is a registered user.

I have lived in Woodside for many years. I have heard several times of businesses wanting to come into town that compete with Roberts being blocked by them as the landlord for most of the suitable retail space. I have always had the impression the Roberts family had somewhat of a monopoly on the downtown Woodside space. It has been suggested they do not want anything that could be competition for the Market. I would be interested to know if they actually have such a monopoly and are able to block businesses they don't want as a result. I heard they not long ago blocked another coffee bar type operation for this reason. When the Bakery is gone is there anyplace other than Robert's Market to get coffee and snacks to go? If so, I am not aware of it. There "may" be a bigger issue here. That said, I think Robert's Market is a Woodside treasure. It add's so much to the community. It would just be nice if there were some additional choices. Losing the Bakery hurts the town, not to mention it is devastating for the owners and employees.


27 people like this
Posted by Seriously?
a resident of Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Nov 24, 2015 at 8:42 pm

Seriously? is a registered user.

Frankly, I am shocked by the online uproar over the closing of the Bakery. Among all my fellow Woodside residents, every single one of them is ecstatic that a mediocre, subpar food establishment with the worst coffee we have ever had will be replaced by another eatery.

I have been a patron of the Bakery for the past 7 years… A few bad tastes (no pun intended) have been left in my mouth over that time: the Halloween cookies discounted 50% on November 7, 2009 (seriously??), the owners’ repeated unfriendliness or, at best, aloofness, a horrible wine list that often led me to choose water over wine (and I never do that!) and, lest us omit the Bakery’s pivotal role in the closure of Emily Joubert’s coffee service in the late summer. This article paints a very sympathetic portrayal of the Sweyers, but they failed on many levels. I applaud George Roberts for recognizing that Woodside residents demand and deserve high quality products.

Many of the comments vilify the Roberts family. We should not forget that they have devoted the majority of their real estate in Woodside to retail and dining establishments. It is true that two families dominate most of the commercial space in town, but the Roberts do not have many office tenants like the other family does. Our town would benefit from a Town Council ordinance dictating that a certain percentage of commercial real estate be retail, consumer service and dining establishments.

Lastly, there seems to be some journalistic bias in this article: when Emily Joubert was forced to cease offering its delicious and very popular coffee, the topic received 93 Replies and 66 Thanks on Nextdoor Woodside. There certainly seems to have been more of a “story” there than here… is the author writing to support her friends, the Sweyers, or am I just being too cynical? (By comparison, the Bakery closing has generated 63 Replies and 64 Thanks – not all supportive of the Bakery.)

PS- If the rumors are true and Mayfield Bakery is coming, the owner is a Woodside resident who deserves our patronage.


6 people like this
Posted by CGD
a resident of Woodside School
on Nov 24, 2015 at 11:05 pm

CGD is a registered user.

I am very sad that Mark and Jan will no longer be operating the warm and friendly Woodside Bakery and Cafe. Mark has poured his heart into making this establishment a welcoming and central hub for locals and visitors to Woodside alike. We will miss Mark and Jan and their staff. Surely, this eviction could have been handled in a less callous manner. My parents taught me that you could tell if someone had class by the way in which they treated people in a less powerful position than themselves. I don't think the Roberts have shown much class in this regard. Perhaps they feel the town would be better served by a different establishment. Fine. The property belongs to Mr. Roberts and he has the right to do with it as he chooses. No argument there. But please- to kick Mark out with 65 employees right before the holidays with such short notice. That is unexcusable.
I can't help thinking about all the families that will be negatively impacted by this callous decision.


10 people like this
Posted by Boon
a resident of Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Nov 25, 2015 at 4:56 pm

Boon is a registered user.

It is sad to see any business suffer, but I don't think it is fair to blame the Roberts family. Obviously there is much more to the story than was reported here. read between the line before you throw stones.


2 people like this
Posted by pogo
a resident of Woodside: other
on Nov 25, 2015 at 5:19 pm

pogo is a registered user.

"read between the line before you throw stones"

I'm gonna have to remember that one!


5 people like this
Posted by CC
a resident of Woodside: other
on Nov 26, 2015 at 9:24 am

CC is a registered user.

Seriously posted:

"PS- If the rumors are true and Mayfield Bakery is coming, the owner is a Woodside resident who deserves our patronage."

Can we assume you know these people since they live in Woodside and thus know that that the Mayfield Bakery is coming to town? That is positive news for the community if true and certainly would mitigate the damage to the town of losing the Woodside Bakery.


7 people like this
Posted by Observer
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Nov 27, 2015 at 10:13 am

Observer is a registered user.

I'm so sorry to see the Bakery go. Mark , and his family, three generations of Woodside residents for over 55 years have created a wonderful environment where I regularly dine with my family and friends. As always, there are two sides regarding the eviction and George Roberts and his daughter have the right to evict at their pleasure. Myself, having been a Woodside resident for almost 60 years, feel I have a reasonable understanding of our community and culture. I remember George’s father giving us candy on our walk home from Woodside elementary school in the early 60’s. I remember Mr. Roberts senior as a kind and honorable member of our community. With regard to to some of the above comments, there will always be “haters” and I choose to ignore them as their spiteful and vengeful comments don't bring solution, or contribute to resolution for either party.
As stated in my letter sent to the Roberts family, the eviction is a done deal, no argument here, but, it would not be a hardship on the Roberts family to allow the bakery to remain in business through May so as to give the owner and employees time to get their affairs in order and get on their feet. I am aware that the incoming business is not able to take possession of the space till June and with this in mind, once again, there will be no hardship on George to allow the Bakery to remain till May. I have faith that the Roberts family will see the fairness in making such a decision, as to do otherwise would not be congruent with what I believe to to be the legacy of Mr. Roberts’ senior or the spirit of the Woodside community. When all is said and done I'm be curious to see if the Roberts family will choose to be right or smart in their decision making?


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

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