News

Portola Valley: Corporation formed in effort to buy Alpine Inn

Three informational meetings planned for next week in the town library

The Alpine Inn (formerly Rossotti's) at 3915 Alpine Road in Portola Valley is up for sale, relatives of the former owner said. A town resident has formed a corporation with the intention of raising money from the local community to buy it. (File photo by Michelle Le/The Almanac)

The Alpine Inn, a much-loved burger joint and beer garden at 3915 Alpine Road in Portola Valley, is for sale. The business has been listed for about a week with a San Jose broker, according to Vicki Alexander, daughter-in-law of the late owner of the inn, Molly Alexander.

There are several groups of local people expressing interest in buying the business, "including a couple of consortiums," Alexander said. "If people are interested, they should get their offers in."

Lucy Neely, a Portola Valley resident and an Alpine Inn enthusiast, told The Almanac recently that she is seeking investors with the aim of raising enough money to buy the inn.

To that end, she has registered "Portola Valley Community Roadhouse, LLC" as a California corporation. A search of records at the Secretary of State's office confirms registration of the corporation on April 9.

"Our intention is to create an inclusive, welcoming restaurant that maintains the beloved character of a 156-year-old drinking establishment," she said in a statement. "We plan to serve delicious food and drink and offer a comfortable and inspirational space that functions as a vibrant community gathering place."

Neely said she would be announcing her plans on PV Forum, the online gathering place for residents of Portola Valley and nearby unincorporated communities.

She has arranged three informational meetings to be held in the meeting room in the town's public library at 765 Portola Road. They are set for:

• Tuesday, May 22, at 11 a.m.

• Tuesday, May 22, at 6 p.m.

• Wednesday, May 23, at 6 p.m.

Asked for an estimate on her fundraising target, Neely said she needs to first determine how much money might be raised. The target "is definitely in the millions," she said.

Shares will start at $10,000 each, she said. The owners will elect a board to run the restaurant in collaboration with professional management.

For more information, write to her at pvroadhouse@gmail.com or call 650-206-3038.

'Hue and cry'

Significantly, the Alpine Inn is registered as both a state and a federal landmark. In Portola Valley's general plan, in the chapter on historic resources, the inn is labeled as a structure to be preserved.

A bronze tablet embedded in a boulder outside the inn notes that the building dates from the 1850s, that it was built by one Felix Buelna, and that it served "as a gambling retreat and meeting place for Mexican-Californios."

"It was strategically located on the earliest trail used both by rancheros and American settlers crossing the peninsula to the coast," the tablet continues. "Acquired by an American in 1868, it has continued to serve under various names as a roadhouse and saloon."

Any proposals for altering or remodeling the building would have to take into consideration its history, Town Historian Nancy Lund said. The Town Council might even have to weigh in, she added.

Neely said she's spent months talking with people and looking into who the potential buyers might be and concluded that she "didn't have confidence in any of them."

Lund did not dismiss the possibility of someone with huge resources buying it, proposing changes that are unacceptable to the town, and taking the town to court.

"How much would the people be willing to pay?" Lund asked. "I hear about deep-pocket people taking things. ... I hope a consortium decides to buy it and keep it as it is" along with seismic improvements, she said.

"I think there would be a hue and cry if it became something other than a restaurant," she said. "My guess is that people wouldn't mind if they had a slightly altered menu."

Alexander said the family is "assuming it would go back to the way it used to be," referring to the menu. Rectangular hamburgers might make a comeback, she said, along with sourdough buns and regular hot dogs. "The fries were absolutely fantastic," she said. "Now they're just ordinary fries. ... Now it's just any old place."

"It's such a wonderful social resource," Neely said. The goal would be "just taking what's great about it and bringing that to the fore and improving it," creating "a community-driven restaurant for Portola Valley and the surrounding community," she said.

Neely is the daughter of Portola Valley residents Dr. Kirk Neely and Holly Myers. She has a bachelor's degree in economics from Bates College and is a manager for the family's wine business.

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Comments

6 people like this
Posted by Bob
a resident of Portola Valley: Brookside Park
on May 17, 2018 at 1:45 pm

It seems to me it would be historically fitting if a new menu was created that included Mexican food, along with the ubiquitous American hamburger. The place needs a grill, not a griddle, so fat draws away from any meat products, and a more varied menu. Salads! Enchiladas! Music, too. This is such a treasure for PV. I hope to be an investor (a small one).


5 people like this
Posted by Danna
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on May 17, 2018 at 2:05 pm

I want in!!!!


31 people like this
Posted by Joe
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on May 17, 2018 at 2:24 pm

I don't see how you maintain the ambiance by putting in a grill and taking out the griddle. Grills are for health-food savants and not fit for community dives like this place.

That's the risk here. Touching what's made this place memorable and screwing it up.

Going back to the old menu? Yes. But making it more congenial to people who would not normally eat there and who would find fault with the food as it is (or used to be)? No. No way that they should get anything approaching an upper hand in whatever its future is.

I hope the day never comes when I have to tell myself that I have to go there one last time to enjoy a polish sausage cooked flat on the griddle with the bun laid out there as well. That is heaven.


24 people like this
Posted by Ryan B.
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on May 17, 2018 at 2:40 pm

Rosati's is a town/county/state treasure. I hope it stays that way, it'd be a real shame if someone turned it into a heartless, new age, $25/pitcher of beer joint. This local consortium idea is an excellent avenue for ensuring that any change reflects the community's best interests. Way to go, Lucy Neely


19 people like this
Posted by Reader
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on May 17, 2018 at 2:49 pm

Leave the ambiance. Clean it up. Enough that the Oasis is gone. Let’s not loose another heartbeat of the Peninsula.


16 people like this
Posted by JP
a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on May 17, 2018 at 3:20 pm

Please no mexican food. yuck


6 people like this
Posted by PV neighbor
a resident of Portola Valley: Portola Valley Ranch
on May 17, 2018 at 4:25 pm

Kudos to the efforts by the community members to retain this historic and special place.

I would love to hold onto the “down to earth” Portola Valley feel but please, please, let’s upgrade the menu. The greasy buns, greasy burgers and zero greens available is outdated. Bring on some decent grilled burgers, and salads, I will come by often!

Thank you!


15 people like this
Posted by Sue bob
a resident of Portola Valley: Woodside Highlands
on May 17, 2018 at 5:53 pm

Hose it off, keep the griddle, bring back the old rectangle burgers. Keep the bar and tables, don’t paint anything and don’t pave the parking lot. Give the yuppies a kale salad or fruit cup or something...


8 people like this
Posted by JB Hunt
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on May 17, 2018 at 6:55 pm

Say "goodbye" to one of the most iconic places in the hood. It's never been about pasta or fancy grills. It's a beer joint that serves some food. I believe it's about to be history. Too bad.


22 people like this
Posted by Paladin in Exile
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on May 18, 2018 at 9:51 am

I agree with cleaning it up and preserving the traditions that have been in place there over the last 100 years. Nothing more. The draw is the traditions
and memories people have of the place. If it's not broken don't fix it, just clean it.


5 people like this
Posted by Wishing
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 18, 2018 at 2:23 pm

Wish a similar effort would be made for the Oasis. We need both!


13 people like this
Posted by Don't change it
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 18, 2018 at 2:35 pm

I first went to Rosati's (Alpine Inn) in the early 70s with my dad when my parents were newly divorced. My dad discovered this place and took his kids there for a burger (rectangular with a sourdough bun). He didn't use his real name but something like "big bear" that was called out over the loudspeaker when the burgers were ready. I was so embarrassed. Back then it was more of a motorcycle hangout than a bicycle hangout. I loved sitting outside on the picnic table in the warm sunshine with a delicious greasy burger in my hand. Ah, the good old days!

Please don't try and give the place a makeover. A decent grilled rectangular burger, good fries, and maybe a little cleanup is all that is needed. Don't remove the "patina," lol. It doesn't need to be a family friendly community center. The beauty of the place is that it attracts people of all ages and walks of life - - at least it used to when I was a kid.


Like this comment
Posted by Ben
a resident of another community
on May 18, 2018 at 6:20 pm

Where will it all end?


1 person likes this
Posted by Hrundi Bakshi
a resident of Atherton: other
on May 18, 2018 at 7:24 pm

Don't let this distract you from the fact that in 1966, Al Bundy scored four touchdowns in a single game while playing for the Polk High School Panthers in the 1966 city championship game versus Andrew Johnson High School, including the game-winning touchdown in the final seconds against his old nemesis, "Spare Tire" Dixon.


3 people like this
Posted by Chad
a resident of Portola Valley: Los Trancos Woods/Vista Verde
on May 19, 2018 at 11:48 am

Here is the word. A European group is looking at investing in the building, but dramatically changing the use. Their idea- Beer garden is going to be converted to a mini-wheat grass farm. The harveste wheat grass will then be concentrated and served on tap inside. Farm to table! Yes! Where the pinball machine /old arcade area is to become a retail store for a Euro brand of spandex bicycle bibs! Another plus. Outside, there will be a charging station for Tesla owners. I can get behind this!!


3 people like this
Posted by Reader
a resident of another community
on May 19, 2018 at 4:49 pm

And bring back 42nd Street while we're talking about it!


6 people like this
Posted by Paul
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 20, 2018 at 7:00 am

I grew up in Menlo Park in the 40’s and the Alpine Inn or Rossati’s was a mandatory stop on many bike rides around the Alpine Rd./Sandhill Rd. loop.
This grand establishment must be preserved - with the cooking griddle. I would be willing to invest !


5 people like this
Posted by Bob
a resident of Portola Valley: Brookside Park
on May 21, 2018 at 10:20 am

Chad, are you kidding or serious?
I think the PV folks will have a reaction to this news. The town's ordinance states that any biz must primarily serve the town's residents, I believe.


3 people like this
Posted by Mo-Man
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 21, 2018 at 3:32 pm

What The Hell Is Wrong With All You People!!!!! Zotts Has Been A Part Of EVERYONES life Since The 50's ^60'S!!!!!!!!!!! To Change I t Would Be Disasterous!!!! Has Menlo Park / Portola Vallry. Palo Alto Lost Their Minds????? Look At What's Happening To Menlo - Where El Camino Will Become A "Strolling Zone"!! I Had Lived There Since 2953 - Moved To Arizona in 2007
-You ALL Should Be Ashamed!! A Damn Pity!!!


3 people like this
Posted by Joan
a resident of Portola Valley: Los Trancos Woods/Vista Verde
on May 21, 2018 at 5:01 pm

I agree with Mo- Man. Life without a Zott Burger is unthinkable.


3 people like this
Posted by Portola Valley Resident
a resident of Portola Valley: Westridge
on May 21, 2018 at 8:45 pm

I did not appreciate the above commenter lumping Portola Valley with mp. We are a separate town and very different, please take note accordingly.

I think the beautification and renovation of Alpine Inn is an excellent idea, but agree that the food should be kept the same as it is (minor improvements to quality here and there) but otherwise the same. I would like to see a more modern interior and less dirty, improved patio, and better parking lot. Also an above commenters idea of electric charging stations isn’t a bad idea. I will be in attendance at the meeting, looking forward to sharing all my ideas and hearing more!


3 people like this
Posted by AG
a resident of Portola Valley: Westridge
on May 22, 2018 at 11:05 am

I want to love Alpine inn, but it's truly unsanitary. Everytime I've tried, I just can't ignore the lack of simple food procedures.

Clean up the eating areas...raw meat hands to register...to buns....really, not ok!

Keep the saloon with the beer (but keep those bits clean!!)

Keep the menu unbelievably simple!

It's great to be simple, it's fine to be dusty, just be sanitary.




7 people like this
Posted by PV Stereotype
a resident of Portola Valley: Westridge
on May 22, 2018 at 1:32 pm

I insist that Alpine Inn remain exactly the way I want it with a few changes that I know are right and true. Also, I'm not going to risk my own money to buy the place but expect those who do to follow my infallible instincts. And prices better not be in the fancy range. In closing, I have nothing but incredulous and entitled contempt for those who disagree. I have a caps lock key reserved for you and if Judge Judy weren't on right now, I just might use it. Good day!


3 people like this
Posted by David B
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on May 22, 2018 at 3:06 pm

Please please please, make the food better! I don't know food so I can't advise how, but..... whether it's a griddle or grill or better ingredients or something..... there must be a way to improve it.


5 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on May 22, 2018 at 4:23 pm

Sanitary would be nice. I’m always in favor of a good health inspection. Beyond that, I’m just grateful that people are trying to keep it out of the hands of Khosla. That is, or was, a very real threat.

Thank you very much to whomever started the LLC to try to save our Zots.


4 people like this
Posted by Roshongo
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on May 22, 2018 at 5:17 pm

Landmark or not, it's a dump! The food is terrible and the place is filthy. Tear it down and build something decent. I know all the " old-timers " will probably have a heart attack but the place is gross!


4 people like this
Posted by Westridge Willy
a resident of Atherton: other
on May 24, 2018 at 8:56 am

This is a great opportunity to do something special for the future of Portola Valley, all while remembering Zott’s nostalgic past.


6 people like this
Posted by Richard Vaughan
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on May 24, 2018 at 11:30 am

Searsville Lake
Peanut Farm
Nuts to Zotts Race
Oasis
Sunset Magazine
Menlo Theater

All great things that have disappeared/closed as times change.....
I appreciate the effort being made to keep the traditions alive.
We did it with Keplers - Hope it can be done with Zotts
Good luck to the group!


4 people like this
Posted by Rosinante
a resident of Portola Valley: Central Portola Valley
on May 24, 2018 at 4:11 pm

Richard V. you left out the,

Hitchin Rack, just north of the Peanut Farm on Cañada Rd.


6 people like this
Posted by Historic Bars Supporter
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 24, 2018 at 11:52 pm

Negotiate with the Beltramo's and the Tougas family (long-time operators) to take over and improve the Oasis and throw it into the corporation with Rosati's (Alpine Inn). . . .this is not only local history but they are legendary spots. Irreplaceable historical landmarks. The public wants these businesses and will support them!


Like this comment
Posted by chad
a resident of Portola Valley: Los Trancos Woods/Vista Verde
on May 25, 2018 at 2:22 pm

Reply to Bob's comment (5/21/18). The Town has never really liked the current use of Zott's. If they did, why did it make the closing hour 8PM (over 30 years ago). No beer or food after 8PM? That said, I think bike tights, wheat grass, and Tesla charging stations would all serve the town residents and well. A CUP might make that "Ordinance" go away. If this is not what some citizens of the Town want, go to any and all town meetings on subject.


Like this comment
Posted by Richard Vaughan
a resident of another community
on Jun 15, 2018 at 5:56 am

Haven't heard much about where everyone is at with regards to saving Zotts, but thought I'd share one story from my mom. Back in the 40s when she was going to Stanford undergrad and med school, she said that Zotts was the place to go for a beer because It was just outside of Stanford's property, which was a "dry" campus, and "unescorted" women would be served. Lots of great memories for all who've enjoyed the rectangular "bricks".


Like this comment
Posted by Stanford '58
a resident of another community
on Jun 21, 2018 at 8:15 am

What Rossatti's was is something that doesn't exist anymore and really would/could be a viable treasure today. That rectangle burger was sublime. And I cut my beer-teeth on Oly by the quart, drunk out of pint paper cups.

I do agree with decent health and sanitation standards at the grill, but there is a place for a great burger and great fries and simple beer. Today they's probably have to serve a selection of craft beers, but I am reminded of what my kindergarten son said about a gaudy plastic bird feeder we were given. "NO, NO, we don't WANT that kind of bird!"


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

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