Editorial: Town and Country – new, but not improved
Published October 15, 2012
Every time the bell rings excusing Palo Alto High School students to lunch, students flock across the street to purchase food. However, due to recent closures of treasured Town & Country eateries, their pickings have become slimmer.
Over the past few years, Town & Country Village has undergone a major renovation, transforming from an old, but cherished, gathering place of Paly students, Stanford fans and local residents into a fresher, hipper institution that caters to the young and successful that congregate in Palo Alto, the heart of Silicon Valley. While the upgraded façade and cleaner appearance is appealing at first, a closer look reveals that the heart and soul of the old Town & Country has been smothered by the superficial intentions of the shopping center’s management.
While The Paly Voice recognizes and appreciates the need to make money, we believe that the current management has gone too far in its rental contracts, forcing popular local restaurants out, in favor of fancier, overpriced eateries that target those who can afford to pay top dollar for lunch. Places like Lulu’s Taqueria and Mayfield Cafe have tasty food, but they aren’t places where students can go to have a casual sit-down meal. Starting with the closing of Rojoz Wraps and Spot: A Pizza Place in 2008, the number of student-friendly shops has dwindled in recent years as higher rents have driven out the eateries that have been staples in the Palo Alto community for decades. This past August, Korean Barbeque, which called Town & Country home since 1991, was forced out due to a combination of construction and the management’s refusal to lease such a small amount of land.
Most recently, Hobee’s California Restaurant was informed that it would have to pay to remodel its building and pay an increased rent if it was to stay in its current location. Due to its inability to pay for the increased costs, the restaurant decided to leave at the end of the year after 28 years of service from its Town & Country restaurant. These four restaurants were high-quality, inexpensive eateries that were welcoming to families and students alike.
Even though the shopping center has taken away local, family-owned businesses, it does offer a few student-friendly options, such as the ready-to-eat section at Trader Joe’s grocery store, Asian Box, Calafia Cafe and Mayfield Bakery, a cheaper option to its adjacent Cafe. However, many of these stores do not have the same family-friendly quality as such establishments as Hobee’s, resulting in a colder opinion of student customers. At such businesses, students are often forced to leave their backpacks outside and are treated poorly by staff compared to its interaction with adults.
We believe that Ellis Partners, the property managers of Town & Country Village, have done a disservice to the Paly community by replacing these beloved restaurants with pricy, posh eating spots.
So Ellis Partners, if you’re reading, please lessen the blow of losing these fine establishments and save Hobee’s. While the community can’t get the others back, at least it could still enjoy Hobee’s famous coffeecake.
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