Menlo Park: Cafe Zoe gets city permit to serve beer and wine, stay open later


For years, people who have come to Cafe Zoe, a popular coffee shop in the Willows area of Menlo Park, have asked its owner, Kathleen Daly, whether the shop would ever serve beer or wine.

As of April 18, Ms. Daly said, the cafe, located at 1929 Menalto Ave., is one step closer to doing so. On that date the cafe won approval from the Menlo Park Planning Commission for a permit to serve wine and beer with extended cafe hours.

The city's approval is a required step in obtaining a license to sell alcoholic beverages from the state, explained Ms. Daly. Her pending license application can now move to the next level: approval by the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.

It's hard to predict when that license will be approved, she said, but expects it to be within the next 45 to 90 days.

The launching of those services, she said, might also have to be delayed while she attends the college graduation of her daughter – also named Zoe. Ms. Daly said that Zoe means "life" in Greek, and fits with the cafe's mission of promoting peace, hope and community, but the cafe wasn't named after her daughter. She said Zoe plans to partner with her, working at the cafe in a larger role after she finishes college.

In a booming market where renting restaurant space can be costly, Ms. Daly said being a small business owner can be tough. She said the cafe needed another source of revenue to stay alive.

"Staying open just to serve coffee isn't an affordable business model," she said in an interview.

"We have the most to lose," she told the Planning Commission, saying she plans to take a number of precautions to ensure safety of customers and others. She said she has received education on regulations governing the serving of alcohol, and said her employees who serve alcohol will be 21 or older and must pass a certification test. The cafe would also have an account with a local cab, Uber or Lyft driver to provide safe rides home to customers after drinking.

According to the application submitted to the city, Cafe Zoe wouldn't be a bar in a traditional sense. Hours would only be extended on certain days of the week. It would close at 5 p.m. on Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays; at 10 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays; and at 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. With the longer hours, Ms. Daly said, the cafe could host events like book clubs, poetry readings, acoustic and amplified music concerts or fundraisers.

The move to add later hours and serve beer and wine has local support. City staff says it received at least 21 emails and a petition with 127 signatures in support of the change.

Mary Hofstedt, who told the commission she has worked in alcohol prevention programs, and lives within walking distance of the cafe, told the Planning Commission that the plans did not trigger any warning signals for her.

"It's family-friendly, it's beer and wine, and it's (coming) from a trusted community member," she said.

One community member had some concerns. Ellen Haffner told the commission she was worried that children passing by Cafe Zoe on Menalto Avenue after school might see adults drinking beer or wine.

"Beer and wine (don't) belong in a family-centered neighborhood," she said. A commissioner responded by saying that people often sit outside and drink alcoholic beverages at restaurants on Santa Cruz Avenue where children are present.

"(Whether it's a) glass or beer or espresso, I don't really see that much of a difference," said Planning Commission chair John Onken. "Especially given the clientele."

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6 people like this
Posted by Bob McGrew
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Apr 20, 2016 at 11:49 am

Congratulations to Cafe Zoe! I'm looking forward to having a glass of wine in my own neighborhood.

5 people like this
Posted by Halt! Search all bags!
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Apr 20, 2016 at 12:05 pm

Some folks want to set up barricades around their neighborhood to halt activity they feel doesn't belong, however legal it may be: no beer in the neighborhood?

Another vote for Trump, I'm sure.

12 people like this
Posted by MPer
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 20, 2016 at 1:04 pm

"One community member had some concerns. Ellen Haffner told the commission she was worried that children passing by Cafe Zoe on Menalto Avenue after school might see adults drinking beer or wine."

Ellen, here's a news flash. Seeing responsible adults, responsibly drinking wine or beer is a good thing. They may learn to also drink responsibly when they are 21. I'd even bet many of their parents drink at home!

If kids have no positive impressions of alcohol or none at all, they are more likely to abuse it.

Like this comment
Posted by SteveC
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 20, 2016 at 2:46 pm

SteveC is a registered user.

I am totally shock!! Imagine people enjoying a glass of wine or beer and a child might see that!!!!. [part removed.] people enjoy a glass of wine or a beer in public As MPer said the children just might lean responsible drinking.

2 people like this
Posted by RickS
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Apr 20, 2016 at 3:44 pm

Happy to hear this! I'm looking forward to sharing good times and talk with others over a glass of beer or wine in our sweet neighborhood cafe.

5 people like this
Posted by really?
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 20, 2016 at 3:44 pm

Residents (including Ellen) have every right for concern, but a small establishment like Cafe Zoe should be fine.

But imagine if someone wanted to create the Dutch Goose there at Menalto? This would be a much more divided comment section.

Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Apr 21, 2016 at 9:53 am

Great news!

4 people like this
Posted by Mean-spirited Menlo
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 21, 2016 at 10:00 am

Cafe Zoe is a great neighborhood establishment where I have spent many hours. I have no issue with their getting an alcohol license.

That said, I understand that not everyone agrees, and others have just as much right to their opinions as I do. It is troubling to see the level of vitriol aimed at a resident who expressed her concerns, from anonymous people, no less. Are you people really my neighbors? Who told you that it was ok to mock and belittle someone? You probably don't consider yourself to be an Internet bully, but that's exactly what you're doing.

I don't know her, or anything about her, but I see behavior here that is profoundly disturbing. Try to be happy that you can spend more hours and money at Cafe Zoe and cut out the jibes.

4 people like this
Posted by AllYouCanEat
a resident of another community
on Apr 21, 2016 at 11:23 am

Really? How is a child supposed to "learn" responsible drinking by simply watching. This is great, now when marijuana becomes legal your child can learn responsible dope smoking as well.

1 person likes this
Posted by Plane Speaker
a resident of another community
on Apr 29, 2016 at 12:03 pm

This place has some pretty poor reviews.

All this talk about a cafe here, and no one mentions its address.
Which is a little understandable considering I had to look for
their web page and then search through every page to actually
find their address. Address only on their catering page.

CafeZoeMenloPark dot Com - Web Link
Cafe Zoe
1929 Menalto Avenue Menlo Park, CA 94025

On their directions page the address is not even given.
What a strange place that doesn't seem to want people
to know where it is? Kind of whispers incompetent a
little bit doesn't it?

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

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