Word seems to be slowly getting around, but in case you noted the filming that took place in our historic courthouse (and, apparently, in a couple of other locations around the city as well) last Monday and wondered what was going on, it seems that Hugh Laurie—best known as Dr. Gregory House in the series House—is filming a new series for Hulu called Chance. In it Laurie plays a “a San Francisco-based forensic neuropsychiatrist who reluctantly gets sucked into a violent and dangerous world of mistaken identity, police corruption and mental illness.” The fourth episode contains a courtroom scene that is purported to take place in an Oakland courthouse, but was filmed right here in Redwood City. I’ll be curious to see if Redwood City gets any kind of credit.
The sight of a “Coming Soon” sign always gets me excited—I love to check out new stores and try new restaurants. And I figure that such signs are a good indication of the health of the city: not only do new merchants make Redwood City a more interesting place in which to be, they also show a confidence on the part of the merchant. Confidence in the likely success of their business, of course, but also confidence in Redwood City as a viable place to conduct that business.
On the flip side, a “Closing” sign brings a chill to my heart. But whereas you can generally take a “Coming Soon” sign as a positive without having to dig much deeper, you really need to look into the reasons why a business is closing in order to determine just what it really means. For instance, is the business truly closing, or just moving? And if so, are they moving within Redwood City, or elsewhere? If they are closing for good, are they closing for entirely personal reasons, or is it because they just can’t turn a profit in the current economic environment?
Although not in Redwood City, Beltramo’s Wine and Spirits is nearby, in Menlo Park. This weekend they are closing their doors for good after being in business for 134 years—since 1882! Although I truly hate to see them go—I’ve been a satisfied customer for many years now—and although the business appears to have been doing well, since the mid 1960s it has been run by two grandsons of the founder. Those men, John and Daniel Beltramo, are now in their eighties and are ready to retire. Which seems to me to be as good a reason as any to close.
In earlier posts I wrote about two long-time Redwood City businesses that had recently moved out of town: Young’s Auto Parts (to Industrial Road in San Carlos) and Lyngso Garden Materials (to Shoreway Road in San Carlos). To that list I regretfully must add another long-time Redwood City business: Goetz Brothers Sporting Goods. Beginning as a card and gift store some 80 years ago in the Broadway storefront now occupied by Erawan Thai Restaurant, since 1958 the business has been located at 2629 Broadway. But no longer. While I can rejoice that the family remains in business, that business is now located in San Carlos, at 1125 Industrial Blvd. You’ll find it between Roadrunner Sports (a store that specializes in running and walking shoes, and apparel) and California Fly Shop (who specializes in fly fishing gear), on the very south side of the Brittan Corners shopping center. Although they will lose the casual walk-by traffic that their former location had, they will be very visible from the Best Buy shopping center (although separated from it by a chain-link fence) and, presumably, from Highway 101 where I assume they will join their neighboring merchants on the communal sign. I dropped by on Wednesday to pay their new location a visit and noted that, as owner Steve Goetz told the Daily Journal, they do indeed have more parking and a bigger store. On the inside, the store feels more open and inviting, and everything seems much more organized and easy to find. Anyone needing sporting equipment would be well served to pay them a visit in their new home.
While I’m greatly saddened that they had to move away, at least Goetz Brothers remains in business, and fairly close by. And now, with the old storefront soon to be empty, there is the potential for some great new retailer to occupy Goetz Brothers’ former location.
Goetz Brothers’ move opens up a storefront that is currently flanked by two other empty storefronts. Towards El Camino the space at 2635 Broadway has been empty for many months now. Most recently that space had been occupied by Techworld Trading Inc., a company that does mobile phone repair, among other things (replacing cracked screens on phones and tablets is a specialty). They, too, remain in business, both online and at their new location on Oak Grove Avenue in Menlo Park. They left behind a large space that has plenty of street frontage:
On the other side of Goetz Brothers was the Art Center, which moved to San Carlos over a year ago. That space sat empty for a few months, at which point a developer stepped in and remodeled the interior. He did an interesting thing: he converted the bulk of the large space into an office, but left the majority of the street frontage available for a small retail establishment. That retail space at 2621 Broadway currently has its windows papered over, so I can’t tell if it is being outfitted for anyone or is simply waiting for a lessee. But the office portion—which is largely in the back, although it does have an entryway and a small display window on Broadway—was quickly snapped up by AVAST Software, Inc. AVAST, who develops security software, is headquartered in Prague, Czech Republic, with additional offices in the USA, Germany, China, South Korea and Taiwan. Their Redwood City office, at 2625 Broadway, seems to be their latest.
One final addition to the closing list, at least for now: Bay Area Breastfeeding, which was located at 2656 Broadway, next to the Revival clothing boutique, is closing their retail store. Bay Area Breastfeeding sold clothing and supplies for lactating mothers and provided consultation services. This is one business that isn’t moving to San Carlos (or Menlo Park), however; they plan to keep their online presence and will provide home consultations. For now they are holding an inventory closeout sale, so if you or anyone you know could use what they have for sale, hurry on over while they are still there.
Hopefully I haven’t depressed you too much with that litany of closing businesses. Allow me to try to cheer you up with some news about some newly opening (or reopening) businesses around Redwood City.
First up, as I walked downtown Redwood City the other day I was shocked—and pleasantly surprised—to discover that Pizza and Pipes has reopened, as Pizza & Pints. I believe that they no longer have the organ, thus the name change. While I have yet to give them a try, from their Facebook page they seem very sports oriented: it may be a great place to watch a game while enjoying pizza and beer. You’ll find them at 821 Winslow Street, in the heart of downtown Redwood City.
Incidentally, while on the subject of pizza, I’ve been meaning to mention Speederia Pizza, which started in San Carlos and opened their second store a year or two ago in Redwood City at the corner of Canyon Road and Oak Knoll Drive. A couple of months ago they lost their lease in San Carlos, leaving their Redwood City store as their only location. If you like New York Style pizza (they sell by the slice or by the pie) do give them a try. And note that they are one business that has essentially moved from San Carlos to Redwood City…not that I’m keeping score or anything!
Another restaurant that has expanded into Redwood City—this one recently—is homeskillet. You’ll find them at 820 Veterans Boulevard in the old Happy Donuts space, at the corner of Veterans and Middlefield Road:
Homeskillet prides themselves on their house-made doughnuts. Their menu also lists omelets, benedicts, hotcakes, and french toast for breakfast, plus hamburgers, sandwiches, and macaroni and cheese (plus more) for lunch. Homeskillet began in Alameda in 2013; ours is their second location.
Next up, Redwood Grill, in Woodside Plaza, is open! My wife and I paid them a visit last night, and had a very nice time. I’ll do a proper review once I’ve paid them a second visit, but for now know that they bill themselves as “a family friendly restaurant and bar serving California comfort food.” Their menu lists steaks, salads, chicken, fish, plus burgers, a tri-tip sandwich, and the like. You’ll find them next to the post office (basically, by the Pet Food Express). Currently they are open Tuesdays through Sundays for dinner only (they’ll do lunch eventually). They’re open from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. (9 p.m. on Sunday), but dinner seating and service doesn’t start until 5 p.m.—before 5 they only serve drinks and small plates. I should point out that on our visit—on a Thursday night—they were very busy. We arrived at 6:30 to discover quite a few people waiting for tables. For two of us they quoted a wait of 20 minutes, which proved to be accurate. So go early, and/or be prepared to wait.
Lastly, I took a walk to 849 Veterans Boulevard, where contractors will soon demolish an existing multi-unit retail establishment to make way for a 90-unit apartment building. While there I noted that the front retail space, which had been used as a construction office for the nearby Indigo project, was being emptied out:
This center had recently housed Redwood Trading Post (who has completed their move down the street to 1455 Veterans), Supercuts (who has plenty of other locations, including one in Sequoia Station), and Lobster Shack. I peeked into the Lobster Shack space to see what became of them, and was surprised to learn that they had moved to Woodside Plaza. When I looked up their new address on my computer it seemed awfully close to the BBQ place, but I figured that perhaps they took the spot next door.
They’re in the “Rack & Roll BBQ Shack” spot. But rather than pushing the BBQ out, the two restaurants (which, it seems, are owned by the same individual) have merged to become “Old Port Lobster Shack’s Rack & Roll BBQ.” Indeed, pick up a menu: one side is all about the BBQ, while the other is pure Lobster Shack. So those who are into the Lobster Shack’s ever-popular lobster rolls can enjoy them side-by-side with those who prefer slow-smoked St. Louis-style pork ribs. How well this combination will work remains to be seen, but there were plenty of customers when I paid them a visit. So here’s hoping that they can satisfy both audiences with a single restaurant.
While I know that no business can last forever, it saddens me to see almost any business close their doors for good. It comes as a relief when I discover that a particular business—particularly one that I patronized—is merely moving, rather than shutting down permanently. Lately Redwood City has lost some retailers that have long been associated with the city; I truly wish that those businesses could have found a way to remain, either in their former locations or in a new location elsewhere in the city. While I am encouraged to see new businesses continuing to pop up here and there, I hope that our city staff and City Council take notice and make an increasing effort to aid businesses that are feeling forced to close or relocate beyond our city’s borders. Businesses such as Lyngso and Young’s Auto Parts and Goetz Brothers give Redwood City much of its personality and charm; I’d really hate for us to lose that.
I wanted to provide a heads-up that at next Monday’s City Council meeting the council is scheduled to, among other things, hear two separate appeals of the 603 Jefferson Avenue project. This is the 91-unit condominium project slated for the corner of Bradford Street and Jefferson Avenue that was approved by the Planning Commission on May 17. The discussion should be interesting; I for one plan to be in attendance. The meeting will take place at 7 p.m. on Monday, July 25, in the City Hall Council Chambers at 1017 Middlefield Road. While you can always watch the video of the meeting after the fact, if you are interested in this topic (or in any of the other topics being covered at this meeting) I would highly recommend that you attend in person.