After about eight years of operating at the Stanford Park Hotel in Menlo Park, Menlo Grill has closed temporarily for a refresh.
General Manager Patrick Lane said he decided to transform from what has been more of an afterthought inside a hotel into a restaurant that can stand on its own. He plans to run the 100 El Camino Real restaurant, which will be renamed Menlo Tavern, as its own business, separate from the hotel.
"For many years people would say, 'Menlo Grill — that's at the Stanford Park.' I want people to think in the future, 'Menlo Tavern — that's where the Stanford Park is, right?'" Lane said.
Menlo Tavern will be led by a new chef and bar program manager. Lane wouldn't disclose the new chef, but he hired Keith Fox, a Santa Cruz native most recently working at Huckelberry Bar in Brooklyn, to oversee the cocktail menu.
Menlo Tavern will serve what Lane described as "American classic food … with a California cadence to it," with a focus on local and seasonal products. The food will be "straightforward" and "approachable," like fried chicken, Lane said.
The space will be redesigned so that "the bar will have its own feeling, the dining room will have its own feeling and the patio will be completely different both in service style as well as the food," he said.
Like Menlo Grill, the restaurant is meant to serve the local community rather than hotel guests, Lane said. Menlo Tavern will also provide family-style catering (no more heavy buffet dinners) for events.
Hotel dining is becoming its own scene on the Midpeninsula as more hotels open with quality restaurants, including Nobu at The Nobu Epiphany hotel in downtown Palo Alto, Porta Blu at the Hotel Nia in Menlo Park and the new Oak and Violet at the Park James Hotel in Menlo Park, all joining the Michelin-starred Madera at The Rosewood Hotel in Menlo Park. Local competition was "one of the influencing factors" for the revamp, Lane said.
He plans to reopen the restaurant in January. Menlo Tavern will serve breakfast, lunch, dinner and weekend brunch. The restaurant will be open until midnight daily.