Menlo Park: Outdoor dining areas under construction


Workers are building outdoor seating areas in street parking spaces in front of six restaurants on Santa Cruz Avenue in downtown Menlo Park.

Workers are installing raised concrete seating platforms, ADA-compliant access ramps and rails, and concrete planter boxes in front of these restaurants: LB Steak, Galata Bistro, Angelo Mio, Mademoiselle Colette, Bistro Vida and Left Bank.

A similar area is being created in front of Harvest, a home furnishing store, and is expected to be used for outdoor furniture displays.

Work is expected to be completed in mid-January, according to Jim Cogan, the city's economic development manager.

A total of 10 parking spots will be lost.

Another project, accounting for a bumpy ride on Santa Cruz Avenue west of downtown, is a water main replacement beneath the road. Pavement restoration began Dec. 12, and after a holiday break, work will resume the first week in January, weather permitting.

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24 people like this
Posted by Mike G
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Dec 16, 2016 at 12:51 pm

I wonder if our city council will move forward to build a long overdue parking structure now that even more spaces have gone away? Parking in downtown Menlo Park is a disaster and the worst lot is the Draeger's lot due to its poorly angled striping. I had a run in with a local officer who said he would give me a ticket because I wasn't parked between the lines. My response was a tersely snappy remark of "If you can park it between the lines in this lot I'll pay the fine right now after you repark everyone elses cars too". He summarily walked away giving me a warning.

Menlo Park is the worst town to park in compared to any of our neighboring cities!!! Losing even a small number of 10 spots is going to make it worse, what a joke.

7 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Dec 16, 2016 at 1:38 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

It IS time for Menlo Park to build a downtown parking structure.

Please put out an RFP for private vendors to build and operate such a structure and include the options of putting it totally underground so that the surface space can be used creatively and for automating it to maximize its parking capacity.

17 people like this
Posted by Concerned
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Dec 16, 2016 at 1:43 pm

I was biking with my daughter from Willows to Hillview Middle School on our daily school commute and saw a number of unsafe situations posed by the construction along Santa Cruz.

1. Uneven pavement
A little bump for a car can be quite another thing to a bicyclist. Currently there a large number of patched surfaces along Santa Cruz that seem to be intended to be flush with the pavement but are executed extremely poorly. In addition there are a large number of patched sections 1-2 inches below the pavement surface where there's been no effort to smooth the transition back to previous pavement. For kids on road bikes with smaller, higher-pressure tires, there's a real risk of getting a sudden pinch-flat on these transitions with the corresponding loss of control.

2. Construction vehicles in bike lane
It's one thing to have an occasional truck parked in the bike lane but this morning there were 3 dump trucks and about 5-6 construction vehicles with no attempt to cone off a modified path for road / bike lanes. As a result kids were swerving in and out of the bike lane around the very wide dump trucks. My daughter was in the process of passing another slower kid when they swerved to go around a dump truck and so she moved well out into the road lane, causing a driver to have to move into the middle turn lane on santa cruz to avoid her. In this case I'm glad the driver was aware and swerved, but I would have been more at ease if they'd seen the obstructions in the bike lane and slowed down in advance to allow bicyclist to use the road lane. I also used it as a teaching moment for my daughter to look behind her before ever attempting such maneuvers in the future. However, most kids are on their own and most of them DON'T pay any attention before swerving into the road to pass obstructions in the bike lane.

3. SIgns / other obstructions in the bike lane
There were a couple of knocked down construction warning signs in the bike lane -- sort of a self-fulfilling hazard and warning all in one.

So... my request to Menlo Park... can you PLEASE schedule when dump trucks and other large road construction equipment is along Santa Cruz to times not during the school commute?? Or if you do have 3 dump trucks in a row on Santa Cruz can you show a modicum of sense and lay out cones redirecting bike and car lanes??? And make sure you don't leave any construction debris / signs lying in the bike lanes???

Is it just me, or are others concerned about this lack of attention paid to kids bike safety along this major school bike route?

18 people like this
Posted by Menlo Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Dec 16, 2016 at 1:49 pm

Starting construction on this at this time of the year is, in my opinion, another poor decision by City employees. In case City employees didn't notice, the downtown is packed with diners and shoppers especially at lunch time where finding a space takes major effort. We really don't need fewer parking spaces and construction going on during the holidays. I think this "outdoor dining" should really be called "dining on the street" and is a negative and should not have been approved in the first place. City employees have an agenda that is frequently at odds with what residents really want and need. Too bad they don't listen.

6 people like this
Posted by Cass Apple
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Dec 16, 2016 at 3:13 pm

Thanks to Menlo Park's city council and all of the other folks involved with thinking this up and getting it underway. Menlo Park will be a nicer and friendlier place. (It is already that--but this will make it more so.)

26 people like this
Posted by Joseph E. Davis
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Dec 16, 2016 at 4:11 pm

Do people really like eating meals while sitting mere feet from Santa Cruz Avenue traffic? It doesn't seem very nice to me. These outdoor areas make sense on pedestrian malls or when more widely separated from traffic.

12 people like this
Posted by marie
a resident of Menlo Park: Stanford Weekend Acres
on Dec 16, 2016 at 4:48 pm

Stupid idea if you ask me. One you can't see these blocks at night separating the street from the sidewalk. And second on some corners they stick out and one is forced to make a wide right. turn. Except for Santa Cruz Avenue and University Drive corner of Peet's coffee you have to negotiate a fire hydrant on the side walk. Only a matter of time before a pedestrian gets hit in the dark to avoid crashing into these blocks. I bet you the same person at city hall who came up with putting cement islands in the middle of Santa Cruz to help pedestrians only to have them removed 6 months later is the same idiot who came up with this idea to make more room for outdoor cafes.

11 people like this
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 16, 2016 at 6:05 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

"Do people really like eating meals while sitting mere feet from Santa Cruz Avenue traffic? It doesn't seem very nice to me. "

Ask Parisians. They do it all the time.

15 people like this
Posted by Robert
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Dec 16, 2016 at 8:24 pm

When you include the spaces being eliminated on Oak Grove, Crane and Live oak (177) it more like 200 and why would the council do this at the same time? The city is already starved of parking spaces but I guess if the objective was for all of us to bike or walk to get around then a job well done! As a business and property owner for over 30 years I have seen mistake after mistake no forward vision for our city just blocked off streets and retail businesses who cant do enough volume because there's no access for customers? I hear MP just hired someone to attract retail and restaurants its a tough sell with no parking and if we had a vibrant downtown wouldn't it sell itself? as a retailer this city has no clue at least Palo Alto builds infrastructure I think they just approved 2 more structures while we cant build one!

17 people like this
Posted by whatever
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Dec 17, 2016 at 12:55 am

Menlo Voter
Menlo Park ain't no Paris France. Paris Texas maybe, but not Paris France.

13 people like this
Posted by whatever
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Dec 17, 2016 at 1:02 am

While we're at it lets get rid of those ridiculous pop up parks downtown. Six lost parking spots on Curtis and worse traffic congestion. Who are the mindless staff members behind these ludicrous ideas?

13 people like this
Posted by Nana
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Dec 17, 2016 at 2:15 am

1) Parking meter officers in menlo are the worst!

2) there are not really any good places to eat in menlo. Maybe they should start with that. Can't even get decent Mexican or Chinese. Have to drive to Redwood City or Palo Alto. Nothing but cheap chain stores. No wonder the city is dead past 5 pm. Take a drive to San Carlos and see how busy it is. Menlo Park city council needs to go!!!!

1 person likes this
Posted by Shop in Menlo
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Dec 17, 2016 at 8:15 am

"Do people really like eating meals while sitting mere feet from Santa Cruz Avenue traffic? It doesn't seem very nice to me."

It's working for First Street in San Jose, too.

14 people like this
Posted by Cant Figure
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Dec 17, 2016 at 8:17 am

(City Council)
Ummm, now what could we do to make it even more inconvenient? I know, let's take away even more parking spaces!!!!

Why don't you just turn the whole of santa cruz avenue i to a popup park? God knows there are not enough parks around town. Forget about the lost revenue for the local businesses, as long as people have a place to dump their trash and plastic chairs to break, our work is done!

Seriously, all this makes me want to do is spend my money in Palo Alto or Redwood City. I really would much rather contribute to our local economy, but the local officials seem bent on keeping that from happening.

18 people like this
Posted by MP Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Dec 17, 2016 at 8:47 am

We live in Menlo Park, but virtually never eat out in Menlo Park. It's not for a lack of parking (thee are massive canyons of parking if you're willing to walk 2 or 3 extra minutes), it's not for a lack of seating next to Santa Cruz Avenue, it's because the restaurants are boring / bland / expensive.

There are only so many "blue-hair italian" places one can eat at

Round Table is so dated they don't even do a gluten-free pizza

Everything is bland, boring, 'safe' - a mix of overpriced/boring and low-end chains.

There's also virtually nothing else to do - Los Altos, Mountain View, Palo Alto, Redwood City have interesting shops / attractions to go with interesting restaurants. We have boring restaurants and a bunch of furniture stores (whoever decided MP should become a furniture destination needs to have their head examined, using prime real estate for stores people visit maybe once every 5 years)

Sidewalk dining is a non-solution, with a bunch of people whining about the non-problem of parking (there's plenty of parking, not much worth parking for).

8 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Dec 17, 2016 at 12:29 pm

Mountain View seems to be a good job of attracting younger diners with their more diverse selection of restaurants. Menlo Park can stay in the 20th Century for only so long.

9 people like this
Posted by Louise68
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 18, 2016 at 11:46 pm

@ Concerned:

Why insist on your daughter and you riding your bicycles on Santa Cruz when doing so is, by your own admission, so dangerous? You know that the bicyclist will always lose in any bicycle-motor vehicle collision.

I just do not want anyone to get hurt (or worse) if there is anything they can do to prevent that from happening.

2 people like this
Posted by Former MP Res
a resident of another community
on Dec 19, 2016 at 2:04 pm

Why does the city council spend so much time on these ridiculous ideas and can't even give the BBC the permit to open?

2 people like this
Posted by dana hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Dec 19, 2016 at 3:18 pm

I personally like the outdoor street dining experiment and expect these will be very popular when the days and evening are warm enough to sit outside. The manager of the Left Bank - the only restaurant to have one for over a year - reports that he is very satisfied with his and made a commitment to add a similar space at LB Steak because of his positive experience.

One suggestion: the painted concrete barriers are ugly; add some attractive wood skirting to cover them.

RE: the downtown Curtis parklet: a good idea; horribly executed... TWO years in a row!

What purpose did they have in mind? Who designed it?

It reminds everyone how little taste our city (government) has.

All residents should be disappointed and disturbed by this civic embarrassment.

4 people like this
Posted by Mpres
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Dec 20, 2016 at 1:11 pm

Are the restaurants paying the city for the "outdoor" extended seating?

2 people like this
Posted by Beth
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Dec 20, 2016 at 4:13 pm

To MP resident:

What are "massive canyons of parking?" Are you referring to what's known as side streets or what/where?

And the "blue hair…" comment is for older people, specifically women?

We likely won't develop into another Palo Alto, Mt.View nor Redwood City, yet with demand growing, the restaurant and entertainment scene will change accordingly.

MP downtown area by comparison to the others is small, so only so much is doable, and current downtown building property owners have a say here also.

Like this comment
Posted by Elizabeth
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Dec 20, 2016 at 7:29 pm

I had errands to do downtown today and could not wait to get home. Traffic horrible, no parking. So what's with the push for outdoor eating along a section of Santa Cruz Ave that is congested with cars? Why would anyone want to sit outdoors with cars going by? Whoever thought up this idea gave no thought to the outcome. Parking is at a premium downtown.

Then I realized that along with this "bright idea" comes another "bright idea" of removing more parking on certain streets near Santa Cruz only to satisfy a small group of people.... bikers.

The downtown is a mess.

10 people like this
Posted by MP Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Dec 21, 2016 at 8:38 am

@Beth, take a look at an aerial photo of Downtown Menlo Park - Web Link

The land use is appallingly bad - by a quick (eyeball) estimate, more than half of the land area is dedicated to parking. These huge chunks of parking that take up most of the space between, say, Santa Cruz and (Menlo Ave, Oak Grove) are what are generally referred to as parking canyons.

And by blue-hairs, I mean that there is very little in Downtown MP restaurant-wise that appeals to anybody, male or female, under roughly the age of 50.

@Elizabeth, there's a ton of parking downtown, and I think most of us consider walking a few extra feet to the shops a small price to pay for the hundreds of Hillview students who bike to school to have a safer route to school.

5 people like this
Posted by really?
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 21, 2016 at 8:48 am

Just build the damn parking garages! This is all getting so tiring. Just get three proposals from design-build contractors, make the choice and get it going. No more studies, no more debate, no more messing around!

4 people like this
Posted by MP Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Dec 21, 2016 at 9:16 am

Agreed 100% re parking garages. If you must have parking, they are totally the way to go, especially if you can reclaim land area for more productive uses (e.g. just about anything - housing, restaurants, offices, anything that's not parking)

Like this comment
Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Dec 22, 2016 at 7:16 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

"Elevator does not go to the op floor or the five floors after."


Like this comment
Posted by Frances Griffin
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 29, 2017 at 6:28 pm

This is a massive give away of the PUBLIC right of way. Do they get all that PUBLIC SPACE rent free???
If you want more parking to help merchants, why take away parking spaces that are actually convenient.
When I was on crutches, I never shopped in Palo Alto and even now on a bad day parking near my destination is key. I find Menlo Park parking not bad at all compared to Palo Alto even with the stripped away parking spaces.

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

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