News

Update: Beltramo's Wines & Spirits is closing its doors in Menlo Park

Business has been in Menlo Park since 1882

By Barbara Wood and Kate Bradshaw | Almanac Staff Writers

"That's devastating news," a customer at Beltramo's Wines & Spirits said Monday on hearing the news that the business, a Menlo Park institution owned and operated by the Beltramo family since 1882, is closing, probably by the end of summer.

John and Daniel Beltramo are grandsons of founder Giovanni Beltramo. One is past 80 years old and the other nearing 80, and the pair will be retiring, the family said. They will be closing the store at 1540 El Camino Real in Menlo Park and selling the property.

"The store will begin an orderly wind-down process," the family statement says, and the owners and employee hope "customers will stop by soon while the selection is widest and say their farewells."

"That's a big disappointment," said another customer on Monday who has bought beer, whiskey and wine at Beltramo's since 1965. "There are other liquor stores, but I've always patronized this place," he said. "Prices are low, service is good, and it's a community fixture."

The closing will affect more than 20 employees. One of them, when asked what he will do when the store closes, replied: "Look for work."

He said Beltramo's employees do many wine tastings and are knowledgeable about the business, which he hopes will be an advantage in his job search.

Beltramo history

According to the family, Beltramo's got its start when Giovanni Beltramo emigrated from Asti, Italy, bringing cuttings of Nebbiolo and Barbera grapevines with him. He worked in vineyards near what is now Cupertino for a few years before he began cultivating his own vineyard in Menlo Park.

Giovanni Beltramo started a wholesale and retail wine and spirits business in Menlo Park in 1882. By 1935 Giovanni's son Alexander Beltramo had moved the business to its current location. He operated a cocktail lounge along with the liquor store until 1979, when the cocktail lounge was shut down to make more room for an expanded wine selection, the family says.

"The store was a pioneer in the California wine industry," the statement says, and was also the first to import and introduce many French, Italian and other international wines to its clients.

"We have always been directed by the Beltramo family to bring in the finest merchandise from around the world," operations manager Matt Silsby said.

The store has been led by Alexander's sons, John and Daniel Beltramo, since the mid-1960s. Given their age, "the brothers have deemed it time to retire from the business."

"We are proud of our store's history and honored to have served the community for 134 years," Dan Beltramo said. "We raise a glass in thanks to our friends and customers for supporting us for such a long and memorable ride."

Dan Beltramo, who lives in Atherton, will remain in the area, as will his daughter Diana Beltramo Hewitt, who lives in Menlo Park.

Ms. Beltramo Hewitt said she has worked in Beltramo's for the past five years and has "enjoyed every minute of it." But as the only Beltramo of her generation involved in the business, and with family obligations of her own, she said she was not ready to take over the reins of the business on her own.

The company has had much recent success and introduced a number of innovations such as eBay sales and a phone app, Ms. Beltramo Hewitt said, and they are "so much happier to go out on top like this."

However, she said: "It's time to spend a little more time elsewhere."

Property for sale

The family did consider selling the business, she said. "We pursued a path with a couple of potential buyers" but it was complicated by the fact that the business would have to move since the property is for sale and a buyer has been identified, she said. She declined to provide more information about a property sale.

Asked about competition from big box stores, such as BevMo in Menlo Park and Costco in Redwood City, she said: "There's always competition. That had nothing to do with the closure whatsoever."

She said the family will "certainly miss" its customers and more than 20 employees.

Beltramo's "is not likely to be replaced anytime soon," she said. "It's like a good book. When you close the last page, you're going to miss the characters. We'll take the characters and the people we've encountered along the way with us."

Comments

18 people like this
Posted by STu Soffer
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on May 9, 2016 at 12:08 pm

Legendary family; legendary store, I wish them well.


Just met Dan Beltramo junior at a conference in NYC last week.


23 people like this
Posted by Srini
a resident of another community
on May 9, 2016 at 12:19 pm

Sad to see another Menlo Park institution close, but the Beltramos have earned the privilege of taking it easy. The are, indeed, going out on top. I just hope the property doesn't turn into another decades long nitpicking as to how the city will allow it to be used.


19 people like this
Posted by Ken Chalmers
a resident of another community
on May 9, 2016 at 12:20 pm

It is very sad to hear this. I worked in the store from 2005 to 2010 and have great memories. As communities we need locally owned businesses to thrive, and it is a real shame that the Peninsula is losing this gem. Best wishes to the Beltramo Family, all my old co-workers and the most recent employees.


15 people like this
Posted by ronald wardrop
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on May 9, 2016 at 12:21 pm

I love this place and will greatly miss it. It's a great one-of-a-kind. Been a customer for around fifty years. Best wishes to the Beltramo family.


23 people like this
Posted by Tom B
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 9, 2016 at 12:23 pm

If this is not a sign that Menlo Park is drastically changing, I don't know what is!
Thank you Dan & John...Congratulations on your many years of fine service and selection!


22 people like this
Posted by Dana Hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 9, 2016 at 12:33 pm

My family, friends and neighbors will sorely miss our favorite wine shopping experience. Our visitors have marveled at Beltramo's wonderful wine selection and warm, helpful service and made sure tho shop there whenever they came to Menlo Park from other areas of the country. Best wishes, to the owners.


32 people like this
Posted by Tony Draeger
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 9, 2016 at 12:42 pm

As a fellow Menlo Park retailer, I have long admired the Beltramo Family and the business they built. Beltramo's set the standard for quality merchandising in fine wine, and is a business admired and emulated throughout the US. I wish John and Dan the best in retirement.


2 people like this
Posted by Valerie Baldwin
a resident of Portola Valley: Brookside Park
on May 9, 2016 at 12:45 pm

So sad. Family businesses just cannot compete with chain stores. The family fought the Bevmo's coming to town and lost, thus the inevitable.


19 people like this
Posted by Michael Closson
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 9, 2016 at 12:54 pm

It is very sad to lose such a high quality locally-owned business. If we are to retain the distinctive nature of our city (and keep money circulating in our community) we need to support our locally-owned businesses and not the chain stores.


21 people like this
Posted by MPer
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 9, 2016 at 12:58 pm

@Valerie

The 80+ year old owners are retiring and will sell the land, which is probably worth way more than the business at this point. The one heir who is involved in the business does not want to run it.

This is not a case of a local retailer being run out of town by a huge corporation. The Beltramos are cashing out, and that is their choice. They are not going out on business because they failed, they are closing the store so they can retire. That is a good thing.

Congrats to the Beltramo's you will be missed! Although the store was never the same when they got rid of the cocktail lounge!


9 people like this
Posted by cameron & Tito Bianchi
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 9, 2016 at 1:32 pm

We are so sorry to read this news! We love the Beltramos & the store & will truly miss this one of a kind..truly historic store & its friendly staff!! We wish the Beltramos the best & hope they enjoy more travels & more time with family! Cheers! Cameron, Tito & family


13 people like this
Posted by Local Customer
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on May 9, 2016 at 1:40 pm

I certainly wish the family well but am selfishly incredibly sad about this development. I have been a customer for the last 15 years and rely on great recommendations from the knowledgeable staff. They have never steered me wrong in picking out wines for gifts or for events. This is a resource I will greatly miss. What a loss.


20 people like this
Posted by pearl
a resident of another community
on May 9, 2016 at 2:08 pm

pearl is a registered user.

This news article reminds me of Margaret and Theresa Rossotti, both of whom married into the Beltramo family. Margaret and Theresa were in our Girl Scout troop way back in the last century. Rossotti's was owned at that time by Mr. and Mrs. Rossotti, who used to let us have our Girl Scout overnight outdoor camp-outs there in the big field on the property. Lots of wonderful memories! ; )


12 people like this
Posted by Ed Zschau
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on May 9, 2016 at 2:09 pm

A great Menlo Park business and family. Beltramo's is wonderful example of a family-run business dedicated to great products, exceptional customer service, activity community involvement and arduous supporter of Menlo Park. Enjoy the next chapter.


11 people like this
Posted by Jonathan MacQuitty
a resident of another community
on May 9, 2016 at 2:15 pm

I was in Beltramo's on Friday. I am very sad to hear about this change. It's a fabulous wine store with an excellent selection and great staff. I will miss it and I'm sure many others will do the same....


12 people like this
Posted by Whitney Glockner
a resident of another community
on May 9, 2016 at 2:59 pm

So sad to see Beltramo's close. It was by far the best selection and service of any wine and spirits shop in Northern California. I might be biased - Dan and John Beltramo gave me my first real job as a seasonal gift wrapper back in the early nineties, and was every bit as wonderful to employees as to customers. It's the end of an era in Menlo Park. Congratulations to an amazing family and business!


2 people like this
Posted by Former Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on May 9, 2016 at 3:06 pm

I remember delivering newpapersd to John Beltramo...


6 people like this
Posted by Russ G
a resident of another community
on May 9, 2016 at 3:44 pm

Many fond memories. Such a high quality store and staff. These folks introduced me to wine in the early '70s. Sad it couldn't Cary on. Best wishes to the family. Enjoy retirement, you most certainly earned it!


6 people like this
Posted by Russ G
a resident of another community
on May 9, 2016 at 3:44 pm

Many fond memories. Such a high quality store and staff. These folks introduced me to wine in the early '70s. Sad it couldn't Cary on. Best wishes to the family. Enjoy retirement, you most certainly earned it!


8 people like this
Posted by Russ G
a resident of another community
on May 9, 2016 at 3:44 pm

Many fond memories. Such a high quality store and staff. These folks introduced me to wine in the early '70s. Sad it couldn't Cary on. Best wishes to the family. Enjoy retirement, you most certainly earned it!


6 people like this
Posted by Joëlle Picquenot
a resident of another community
on May 9, 2016 at 5:04 pm

A special thank you to John who made us browse through the aisles of the liquor shop and discover its wonders. We, his French friends, always keep have happy memories of this hard worker. !!!!
Congratulations to the whole family and a lot of love to John.
Joëlle Picquenot.


15 people like this
Posted by K. Rolla
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 9, 2016 at 6:26 pm

Though I do not drink, I shopped at Beltramo's for gifts and for guests, as well as for family. My folks started shopping there in 1961. I'm happy for the Beltramo family but, sad for the community. It sure was a good long run though, wasn't it?


12 people like this
Posted by John O'Brien
a resident of another community
on May 9, 2016 at 8:34 pm

I was introduced to Beltramo's by my daughter who lives in Portola Valley.
For the past 10 years or so, whenever my wife and I drove down to visit her and her family, we would take back to our home in Oregon a fine selection of liquor and wines from Beltramo's. If we were unable to drive down, the wonderful staff at Beltramo's would fill my order over the phone and deliver it to me. My wife and I will miss this store,their fine selection of wines and spirits, and the friendly and very helpful staff.


2 people like this
Posted by bill rayburn
a resident of another community
on May 9, 2016 at 10:49 pm

Somebody please peel off the "Rayburn Wing" bronze placque affixed above the Gin section for me, thanks....


1 person likes this
Posted by Curious C.
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 9, 2016 at 11:22 pm

Curious C. is a registered user.

Please, Beltramo family, think carefully about who gets your property. The traffic is really growing. We want low traffic and NICE people who don't have capitalism at the center....


8 people like this
Posted by Rick Moen
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on May 10, 2016 at 1:41 am

Beltramo's has been an ornament to the area, and a key member of our community. Thank you for decades of being so good that nobody else can compare, and we'll all have very fond memories.

Rick Moen
rick@linuxmafia.com


8 people like this
Posted by Jen
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 10, 2016 at 3:50 am

Thank you Beltramos family for your commitment to quality and a family environment in your store. Our family has been in Menlo Park and shopping with you since the early 1970's. We appreciate you and will miss you as a fixture in this community. Best wishes to you!


2 people like this
Posted by really?
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 10, 2016 at 12:27 pm

Does this mean there's going to be 50% off Cote Rotie soon? Can't Wait!


8 people like this
Posted by Danny Ronen
a resident of another community
on May 10, 2016 at 2:08 pm

Beltramo's was always my go-to for both home and Peninsula projects, as it was a given the staff would be helpful, quick and extremely knowledgeable. It has been the benchmark of what wine and spirits retailers should be. Wishing them all the best and hoping some other local retailers are smart enough to scoop up that amazing staff! -Danny Ronen


9 people like this
Posted by Kevin
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on May 11, 2016 at 4:26 am

In the early '60s, when Beltramo's had a bar, my old man would load me into the '58 Ford on a Sunday morning, and tell mom we were off to get a car wash at nearby Red Carpet Car Wash. That would happen, but dad would also pop into Beltramo's for a couple o' belts. He'd leave me in the car, and be in and out within 10-15 minutes. He'd always tell me that "mom didn't need to know" about our little side excursion. Remember the older hispanic gentleman that used to do the finishing touches to your car at Red Carpet? Same guy was there for years and years. Always perfectly groomed and wearing a big smile as he handed the keys back to the owner. What a concept. Happy Retirement, Beltramo family.


7 people like this
Posted by Penny V.H.
a resident of Atherton: other
on May 11, 2016 at 9:16 am

I grew up in the neighborhood and Beltramo's was always there no matter what else changed around it. I am sorry to see it go! Thank you for all the years and I wish the family the best.


4 people like this
Posted by Beltramos Fan
a resident of Portola Valley: Portola Valley Ranch
on May 11, 2016 at 9:24 am

Does anyone know if the staff or a few of the staff will be joining another wine retailer?
They are so knowledgeable - I will definitely follow them.
Best wishes to the family....



Like this comment
Posted by Norman
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 11, 2016 at 10:38 am

Too much space for the number of customers.


9 people like this
Posted by Menlo Park Historical Assoc.
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 11, 2016 at 10:59 am

For over 100 years Beltramo's has been such an integral part of Menlo Park History. It is a sad day for the Menlo Park Community and the Historical Association to see a bit of history disappear. We all wish the family the best and thank them for their many years of service to our community.


9 people like this
Posted by Dave
a resident of another community
on May 11, 2016 at 11:13 am

As a former resident of Menlo Park in the early 90's, I'm saddened to hear of this, but I understand the situation. I wish the Beltramo family all the best in their new ventures.

I was not only a customer of Beltramo's wine & liquor store, I also rented an apartment from them on Live Oak Ave. They were wonderful shopkeepers and landlords, and I recommended both their store and apartments to others in the area. Beltramo's not only had a fantastic selection of wine, but also of spirits. There was no better stock of single malt whisky in the Bay Area.

My two most fond memories of my time in Menlo Park are Beltramo's and Draeger's. To both families, thanks for everything.


Like this comment
Posted by Employees first
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jul 5, 2016 at 1:38 pm

I understand that the Beltramo family owns the store. But the knowledgeable employees and staff made it the legend it is. Don't you think they deserve better? Could not the family have arranged for a transition to an employee owned business??

Consider how Clark Kepler handled the transition of Kepler's Bookstore. It's still there, the employees are still there (many of them). The customers still keep coming.

What short sighted vision. Lured I'm sure by the over the top real estate valuations in Menlo Park. I doubt this same outcome would have occurred in a saner community.


2 people like this
Posted by Pam
a resident of Woodside: Kings Mountain/Skyline
on Feb 23, 2017 at 11:43 pm

To: Employees first. Kepler's is in a leased location. "Sane" communities respect property rights. Hope they get every cent for their land .

Thank you Beltramo's for running a classy place and provisioning so many events through the years .

Cheers to you !


4 people like this
Posted by DC MCGlynn
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 24, 2017 at 9:54 am

More like greed Pam ..
I recall the story of the small plot of land at then end of the Draegar's store in Menlo Park. The greedy landlord attempted to raise the very high rent during the boom years knowing the store management were compelled by City code to not unload their trucks from the parking lot and hence use this loading bay. Rumor has it they wanted to raise the rent from $8,000 per month to $14,000. So Draegar's lobbied the City one more time and common sense prevailed .. Draegar's now (under strict conditions) can use the Parking Lot for their deliveries. The same piece of land that was commanding a handsome annual rental income is now earning $0 ! This is how the landlord's greed was repaid ! I laugh to myself everytime I pass by .. So Pam, its not all about the almighty dollar .. !


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

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