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Fixing the Many Problems at Allied Arts – All Talk and No Action

Original post made by It’s NOT Inevitable, Menlo Park: Sharon Heights, on Jun 10, 2007

It’s clear from the postings on the Almanac Forum, local articles, and the buzz in grocery stores and neighborhood associations that everyone in Menlo Park is concerned about the current and probable future state of Allied Arts. But as far as I can see, no one is doing anything! Although we all would like to know how this fiasco happened, the important thing is to fix the problems before the Allied Arts complex reaches the point of no return, the point at which the only alternative left is to sell the property for some other less desirable use.

There are so many stakeholders in the Allied Arts community: the Woodside-Atherton Auxiliary members (now Allied Arts Auxiliary) who must be sick of seeing their name associated with the failure of their organization’s plans for the future; the individuals who contributed millions of dollars to the restoration of the complex who now see their investment being squandered on the site, with no benefit to the Children’s Hospital; the Children’s Hospital which has lost the hundreds of thousands of dollars of revenue from the Palo Alto Auxiliary-run restaurant, is about to lose more money from the Allied Arts Auxiliary’s contributions, and must also be sick of seeing one of its auxiliary’s name associated with failure; the Allied Arts neighbors who now have no idea what to expect from the owners of Allied Arts in terms of the site’s future; and the Menlo Park community, which is about to lose one of its most treasured historic icons.

Why isn’t anyone doing something! Why doesn’t the Allied Arts Auxiliary dump its current president and leadership, get new officers, and try to save their site while there’s still time? Why don’t the major contributors to the restoration demand answers from the auxiliary regarding the mismanagement of the site, which has devalued their investment in benefiting the Hospital? Why doesn’t the Children’s Hospital make some effort to influence the auxiliary towards better management of their resources? Why isn’t the media seeking answers to the many questions surrounding Allied Arts and keeping the community informed of the problems and what’s being done to correct them? Why don’t the neighbors seek city government involvement in addressing the problems affecting their neighborhood? Why isn’t the community incensed at the possible lost of a valued historic site?

Why has no one from the Allied Arts Auxiliary given the community a credible explanation as to what’s going on? If there are problems, maybe the community can help.

Why isn’t anyone doing something!

Comments (4)

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Posted by truth teller
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 12, 2007 at 12:09 am

Maybe our current Mayor would/could help, I heard that she is good at reviving dead businesses. I remember reading her press release which claimed that she had saved the Kepler's (the new investors and the landlord were conveniently left out of getting credit in the press release.) Also I remember seeing her rubbing shoulders with Auxiliary high society ladies while she was a planning commissioner and the Guild had their project before Planning. But now she has moved on to bigger and better things and politician always thinking who can help get him/her re-elected, the neighbors or Auxiliary members. Good Luck.

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Posted by MPworkingMom
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jun 14, 2007 at 10:41 am

Turning Allied Arts into a microscopic convention center clearly is not the way to go. Maybe the old model wasn't raking in buckets of cash, but in hindsight, it doesn't seem too bad, does it?

Bring back the volunteer restaurant, reach out to the community and surrounding areas to introduce Allied Arts to new residents, and once that takes hold, use the added foot traffic to lure interesting artisans and shops back to the guild.

Sponsor special lunch deals for community/seniors groups and bring them in by shuttle bus. And bring back the Christmas afternoon tea. Those were really lovely.

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Posted by menlomomx2
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jun 14, 2007 at 10:42 pm

I am so sorry but I don't think the original poster could be more misinformed. The Palo Alto Restaurant left because the Palo Alto Auxiliary was struggling to get enough volunteers to staff the restaurant and keep it open. Finding enough dedicated volunteers to consistently maintain a 6 day a week business is extremely difficult. If the Restaurant had been making money it would not have closed.

Last year the WAA (the volunteer organization which runs the Allied Arts Guild) made more than $120,000 for the Children's Hospital at their annual Tally Ho. That was just one event. Help out - attend the Tally Ho and bid on Auction items.

Better yet go stroll around the beautiful gardens and shop at the wonderful stores such as La Bottega, The Artisan Shop, Flair, Portola Art Gallery, Special Handling Pottery, Renaissance Spirit & Susan's Soaps. And come to the Christmas tea, like we did last year - it still happens - it was so popular it sold out.

The money that has been squandered has been wasted in fighting lawsuits from a small but active group that does not want the Allied Arts to succeed as a fundraiser for the Children's Hospital. The permit is so restrictive that it is quite challenging to get things going.

Jesse Cool who has been so supportive and was so close to opening her restaurant (which would have been a huge success)could not because she could not cater from there - due to the very limiting permit, and therefore could not make a it viable business. Other options are being considered, with everyone's needs in mind.

The Woodside Atherton Auxiliary is intensely committed to helping the children at Lucile Packard's Children's Hospital and to preserving a cherished and unique historical landmark for all of us. It is not just high society ladies there - there are all sorts. Their one common thread is wanting to make a positive difference on a local level. If you want to make a difference why not volunteer?

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Posted by It Wasn't Inevitable
a resident of another community
on Jun 17, 2007 at 6:18 pm

Let’s get our facts straight, MenloMomx2. The Palo Alto Auxiliary that ran the restaurant for more than 75 years did not “leave” the Allied Arts Guild. Their lease was not renewed by the Woodside-Atherton Auxiliary which owns the property. In other words, Woodside-Atherton EVICTED the Palo Alto Auxiliary. Please stop trying to imply otherwise.

Despite dwindling foot traffic in The Allied Arts complex, Palo Alto operated the restaurant until they were forced by Woodside-Atherton to close. The restaurant was fully staffed and new members had been recruited and were being trained when the lease was suddenly terminated, with absolutely minimum notice. The Palo Alto Auxiliary was fully capable of operating the restaurant, and were more than willing to do so. They were surprised and shocked when Woodside-Atherton end unilaterally terminated the lease. They were especially amazed and disappointed that the Children’s Hospital Auxiliary Liaison Vice President allowed this to happen with no warning whatsoever to Palo Alto.

The Palo Alto group will now conduct other activities to support the Hospital, and it is highly unlikely that another restaurant will be able to survive at Allied Arts under the usage limitations imposed by the city. Because of the Woodside-Atherton Auxiliary’s (now Allied Arts Auxiliary) actions, the Hospital has lost a significant donation source, the neighborhood has lost a popular restaurant and a good neighbor, the tenants of the complex have lost a major attraction for visitors, and Menlo Park will probably eventually lose this property to apartments or worse. How sad. How utterly and completely avoidable.

Get your facts straight MenloMomx2.

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