Alpine Inn has new owners | February 13, 2019 | Almanac | Almanac Online |

Almanac

News - February 13, 2019

Alpine Inn has new owners

Popular burger joint is closed until March for remodeling.

by Dave Boyce

The Alpine Inn — the Portola Valley beer garden and burger haven also known as Rossotti's and Zott's — has new owners: Portola Valley residents Deke and Lori Hunter of the Hunter 1988 Revocable Trust.

A set of remodeling plans at Town Hall lists the trust as owner of the property at 3915 Alpine Road — home to the Alpine Inn and to roadhouses of some kind or another since 1868, according to a bronze plaque outside the restaurant. (The one-story building has long been designated as a historic structure, thereby protecting its exterior from modification.)

The Hunters bought the property in December, the previous owner, Geri Alexander of the Alexander family, said in an email Feb. 7.

The Hunters are part of a group of investors in the venture, according to Portola Valley resident Lucy Neely, who unsuccessfully bid for the property last year.

Greg St. Claire, president of the San Carlos-based Avenir Restaurant Group, which owns three Peninsula restaurants — Town in San Carlos, Milagros in Redwood City, and Nola in Palo Alto — will be involved to ensure that the transfer in ownership "is a smooth transition," Alexander said.

St. Claire and the Hunters did not return requests for comment.

Signs on the doors say the inn is closed but set to reopen on March 1. A post on the inn's website states that the new owners hope to reopen the eatery in mid-March.

"Know that all of the partners live in the neighborhood and hold Zott's as an important part of our community," an excerpt from the post reads. "We plan to maintain the casual good cheer and historical integrity of the place."

Derek K. Hunter Jr. (Deke) is a developer and president of Hunter Properties, based in Cupertino, according to a bio on the company website. The bio states that Hunter is "active in community affairs, such as the Portola Valley School Foundation and Portola Valley Town Center redevelopment."

The inn's remodeling will be overseen by Woodside architect Stevan Patrick, according to plans submitted Feb. 6 at Town Hall. The tasks to be undertaken include repairing dry rot in the bar, the kitchen, the floors and the walls; adding accessibility features, including ramps, handrails and automatic doors; and replacing residential-grade equipment with commercial-grade equipment.

The list of equipment to be replaced includes the deep fat fryer, the range, three refrigerators, the griddle and the beer dispenser.

The historic features of the inn include the saloon doors out front and a beer cooler, the plans say.

Enthusiasm

In May 2018, when the inn went on the market, Neely formed a corporation — "Portola Valley Community Roadhouse, LLC" — with plans to raise enough money from local investors to buy the inn and thereby maintain its community character.

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

She met with more than 100 people over a week and emailed a questionnaire asking how much people would be willing to invest. Of the 30 responses she received, 63 percent ticked the box for $10,000 to $50,000, she said.

But one month later, with bidders required to make final offers of at least $3.8 million, the Roadhouse group withdrew. At the time, Neely would not identify the couple who headed the winning group of investors, but said, "I know them and like them. We (in the Roadhouse group) just all felt confident that they have a similar vision for the place and that they will do a good job stewarding its future."

The Hunters were that couple, Neely told The Almanac recently, adding that she didn't see the need to elaborate on what she said in June.

Danna Breen, a member of the Roadhouse group, described the Hunters' enthusiasm for the inn as aligned with that of the Roadhouse group. "Deke and Lori get it," she said, adding that the group members were enthusiastic back in June when the Hunters and their co-investors won the bid. "They have impeccable taste," she said.

As to what makes Rossotti's special, Breen didn't hesitate. "Anybody can go there," she said. "There's a CEO sitting next to a painter. I'm sure (the Hunters) feel the same way. I think that's inherent to what it's all about. ... I love that about Rossotti's.

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