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Portola Valley: Alpine Inn beer garden tent to keep the party going year-round

 
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Now that the historic Alpine Inn has reopened after an extensive and expensive remodel, management has come up with a solution for keeping the indoor-outdoor tavern in operation year-round: a tent over the outdoor seating area.

The structure that will go up sometime in the middle of February, if things go as scheduled, will cover 22 tables in the Inn's garden that will seat about 120 to 150 guests, according to executive chef Sean Agoliati.

Heating lamps will keep patrons warm under the tent structure, Agoliati said.

The tent is now being assembled and the plans have received approval from the Portola Valley planning department for use for three months out of the year, not necessarily consecutively, he said.

Management is going to keep track of the weather predictions and decide when to put the tent up and take it down, he said, although the goal is to keep it up as continuously as possible.

The tent will be stored on-site or in a storage locker when not is use, he said.

The tent will also help solve the problem of having to furlough workers when the weather is bad. During the first spell of rain and cold weather, the tavern had to lay off eight staff members who have to wait until the weather improves to return to work, Agoliati said.

"Nothing is more uninviting for employees than running a seasonal restaurant," he said. "We want to provide a stable work environment."

Hosts of a private party on Dec. 13 erected a rented tent that was left up over the weekend and prompted a positive reaction from patrons, he said. "Having the tent in place resulted in an upswing is business over that weekend, and we had to get staff for that. Having (our own tent) means that we don't have to change out our staffing."

The rented tent was transparent, but the new tent will be an opaque hemp color so it will blend in with the natural environment, according to Agoliati.

"The town wanted a solid roof to maintain the dark sky," said Alpine Inn operating partner Greg St. Claire. "You won't see light from the tent at night."

The 167-year-old Alpine Inn, the second-oldest operating tavern in California, reopened following a six-month makeover on Aug. 9 and did a brisk business during the fall with the parking lot full on many evenings and weekends.

A group of investors from Portola Valley that include Lori and Deke Hunter, Fred and Stephanie Harman, and Jim Kohlberg, purchased the Inn, which is also known as Rossottis and Zott's, from the family of longtime owner Molly Alexander, who died at the age of 93 in 2018.

St. Claire said he is looking forward to starting the next phase of the remodel, which will involve upgrading and expanding the kitchen.

The tavern is serving food on compostable plates because it has not been able to install commercial dishwashers, he said.

"There is currently very limited gas and electric, and the kitchen is undersized and very antiquated," St. Claire said. "It's very hard on our scullery team, and we want to give them modern equipment."

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Comments

11 people like this
Posted by whocares
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 7, 2020 at 6:02 pm

I was there Sunday after a hike.
The only bad thing was the crowd and the wait due to about a million other people being there.
Thank you SO MUCH to the investors for making an awesome place for people to go.
Why couldn't someone have done this with the Oasis?

I'm glad they are keeping the indoor-outdoor tavern in operation year-round.
I hope the PV makes every reasonable accommodation to support the Alpine Inn.


9 people like this
Posted by dana hendrickson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 8, 2020 at 8:52 am

Making the outdoor area inviting during both cold and rainy days is a HUGE improvement. Thanks for acting so quickly to make The Alpine Inn experience even better!


3 people like this
Posted by Nicolas Kristopher
a resident of another community
on Jan 8, 2020 at 8:07 pm

As much as I enjoyed the outdoors of the original Zott's, now having the clean and professional upgrades since the greasy spoon roadhouse (one of my favorites) to a modern day example of a restaurant with creekside seating, I do find it more appealing. I do have concerns with "tenting" over the incredible aural awareness of the outdoors for the benefit of the few who would rather be sitting indoors. Wouldn't they be better off going to one of the other hundreds of existing restaurant/bars in the county and leave one of the ONLY historic outdoor facilities in California for those that truly appreciate in its natural environment? Walk, run, ride your bikes. Leave the autos at home and come enjoy this very special place in nature.


2 people like this
Posted by gary at Zott's
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Jan 9, 2020 at 7:58 am

Nicolas Kristopher is right....leave one of the ONLY historic outdoor facilities in California for those that truly appreciate its natural environment? Where is the common sense... when it comes to heating to outdoors with gas heaters, or covering with a tent. A California landmark has been turned into a money making hole....will greed never cease!


2 people like this
Posted by Crazy Cassowary
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Jan 9, 2020 at 10:00 am

I agree with Nicolas Kristopher.
Also the "New Alpine" has an indoor area for those that don't want to enjoy the outdoors in winter!


3 people like this
Posted by Theresa
a resident of another community
on Jan 9, 2020 at 1:36 pm

We have enjoyed our Sunday lunches at Zott's outdoors since the reopening, where we can also bring our dog. We can't bring him inside so we're happy that the tent is going up for the rainy season. I think a 3-month tent is a great solution that keeps the staff employed and maintains an outdoor setting. Looking forward to seeing how it works.


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