Venture capital firm leases historic Oasis building | September 4, 2019 | Almanac | Almanac Online |


News - September 4, 2019

Venture capital firm leases historic Oasis building

by Kate Bradshaw

The Oasis, a beloved restaurant and bar with wooden booths and an outdoor beer garden that shuttered last year has been leased by its owner to venture capital firm Pear VC, a spokesperson for the owners confirmed on Aug. 27.

The restaurant and beer garden, located at 241 El Camino Real, closed in March 2018 amid hopes that the brand or even a restaurant use would remain at the site, but efforts toward that end appear not to have been successful.

Pear VC is described online as an early stage venture fund. It has a program that promotes entrepreneurship with Stanford students as well as a fellowship program, and has invested in startups launched by university students, according to its website.

The firm also plans to expand into the neighboring section of the building, formerly occupied by Menlo Atherton Glass.

According to a recorded message, the glass business formerly in that building is now closed and will be relocating to 317 Woodside Road in Redwood City. It is expected to reopen on Tuesday, Sept. 3.

According to Deanna Chow, interim community development director for the city of Menlo Park, city staff still needs to confirm whether an office can be set up in the building without the proposal going before the Planning Commission.

While office use is permitted at that space, it will come down to whether there's enough parking at the site. If there's not, "it would trigger a use permit review," Chow explained.

The city is still waiting to receive that additional information and doesn't have details on file yet, she added.

A historic building

According to the Menlo Park Historical Association, the building was once the YMCA building at Camp Fremont, when the area was a World War I training camp. It was originally built in 1917 at Santa Cruz Avenue and Chestnut Street, but was moved to its current location at 241 El Camino Real around 1920.

The historical association reports that Alexander Beltramo, son of Beltramo's Wine & Spirits founder John Beltramo, converted the building into a beer garden in 1933. Former site owner Diana Beltramo Hewitt told The Almanac that he named it the Oasis "because he thought that was fitting after Prohibition."

Beltramo operated the beer garden for about two years, and in 1946 it was leased to a man named Archie Marshall. In 1958, the business changed hands again, and Bernie Tougas took over tenancy at the site, Beltramo Hewitt said.

According to "Menlo Park: Beyond the Gate," a history book about Menlo Park by historians Michael Svanevik and Shirley Burgett, the building's front office was used as the air raid warden's office during World War II.

Notable incidents referenced in that book include a visit by a young John F. Kennedy, who came by to eat a hamburger. Another time, when flooding from San Francisquito Creek had left the restaurant inundated, customers just took off their shoes and "partied as usual."