At the beginning of this week I had planned to start writing about Redwood City’s “Gatekeeper Process,” in which the city will look at nine or ten possible project proposals (all but one of which have yet to be formally submitted) for use as a guide to a review and possible amendment of the city’s General Plan. Together the projects in those proposals, if built, could have as large an impact on the city as the many projects that were built as a result of the city’s Downtown Precise Plan, and so are well worth discussing. But we have time for those discussions. As I said, only one of the projects (505 E. Bayshore) has even been submitted to the city in a formal way. So although I’ll be writing about the Gatekeeper Process in a future post or two, I’m going to wait until the City Council has had its first meeting on the subject, which will occur next Monday, August 10, at 7 p.m. And in the meantime, if you don’t want to wait, I wrote about the topic in my regular column in the Opinion section of this weekend’s Daily Journal. But this week as I walked downtown I kept finding things that seemed of more immediate import. Thus, this column is focused on a number of recent changes in downtown Redwood City.
I don’t know about you, but I’d been secretly hoping that San Mateo County would somehow manage to avoid being put onto the state’s COVID-19 watch list. Unfortunately, we were not able to, and so we now find ourselves living under the more restricted set of rules that our neighbors had been experiencing. Fortunately, many of our restaurants had already gotten used to operating outside, so perhaps this time it won’t be so much of a jolt. But not everything is roses and rainbows. For one, Nam Vietnamese Brasserie has decided to “temporarily close during these unprecedented times.” Personally I’ll cling to the word “temporarily” along with the additional words on their website that state that “we look forward to sharing our cuisine and culture with you once again.” Hopefully that’ll be soon…
Along these same lines, Ghostwood Beer (at 965 Brewster St.) has announced on both Instagram and Facebook that they’ll be closing their taproom at the end of August. Although this closure appears to be permanent, here, too, there is a bit of a bright side: while their tasting room is closing, they plan to continue brewing beer at their brewery (1757 E. Bayshore Rd.) and will be offering to-go growler fills out there starting in September. For the remainder of this month, though, their Brewster Street tasting room will be open from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. every day for outdoor seating and to-go fills. So if you enjoy (or have yet to try) their product, you’ve got a couple of weeks left to check them out.
As I walked around downtown this week I was delighted to see that Quinto Sol, the Mexican restaurant at the corner of Broadway and Theatre Way, is back open and serving outdoors. I particularly like the elevated planters that they are using to delineate their dining space:
I really hope that this outdoor space will remain after COVID-19 has been tamed; nearly everyone who eats inside seems to prefer sitting against the windows anyway (I know I do!) and around here, sitting outside is usually even better. Quinto Sol serves some really excellent food; I’m excited to be able to dine there once again.
Speaking of Mexican food, a new Mexican restaurant just opened at 314 Broadway, pretty much at the Marshall Street corner:
(Their store is behind the white van, where you can see the “Open” sign; given that van’s presence I’m guessing that the folks who took over the old Taco Bell building on El Camino Real at James Avenue — La Casita Chilanga — are responsible for this place as well.) Called La Cocina de la Abuela, this new Redwood City restaurant serves a nice variety of traditional Mexican dishes. I have yet to try them, but you can bet I will — I was raised on Mexican food and always enjoy trying new places. La Cocina de la Abuela appears to be open every day from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Do drop by and do let them know how much you appreciate their coming to Redwood City!
I’ve been aware for a very long time now that Ralph’s Vacuum & Sewing Center, currently located at 837 Main Street, needed to vacate their existing location and move to a new one. I’ve also been aware that the plan was to move to a storefront in Woodside Plaza, one that formerly was home to a dry cleaning business. But the remodeling of that storefront has not progressed as planned, and that new location still appears to be a long way from occupancy. Given that Ralph’s was supposed to be out of their existing location some time ago, I’d been worrying about what was to become of this long-time (more than 40 years!) business. Thus, imagine my delight as I walked up Broadway and saw a Ralph’s Vacuum and Sewing “Coming Soon” sign on one of the retail spaces in the Sequoia Hotel: the one that was formerly home to Eckankar (and was very recently Shelly Masur’s campaign headquarters):
I would think that this move would be a relatively easy one, given that their new location will be just down the block and around the corner from their current digs. Fronting onto Broadway will be nice, and I’m always glad to see reputable businesses making use of the retail spaces in the Sequoia Hotel. That classic building is a key piece of Redwood City’s history, and hopefully will be a fine home for Ralph’s for years to come.
Speaking of “Coming Soon” signs, regular readers know that for a long time now I’ve been watching the on-again, off-again progress of the transformation into a Chase Bank branch of the former Max’s Cafe restaurant space in Sequoia Station. Most recently I reported that after a long period of apparent inactivity work had resumed on the interior. Given the long downtime I was presuming that Chase Bank was still the intended tenant, but I couldn’t be sure. Until now, anyway:
That cloth sign above the door indeed has a Chase logo and says “Coming Soon.” So whenever this project is completed — it is moving along, although it appears to be moving very slowly — that’s who will be located here.
I do have to wonder if Chase will be moving out of their downtown location (at 2300 Broadway, next to Courthouse Square) and into this one. That downtown parcel is up for redevelopment and one way or another the bank will likely need to vacate their downtown location, at least for the duration of any construction. One of the Gatekeeper Process project proposals is from Tishman Speyer: they’d love to build a 112-foot-tall office building with ground floor retail on Chase Bank’s current downtown site.
Back at the Sequoia Station shopping center, I have one other item of note:
Time flies, doesn’t it? Yes, it’s already time for the Spirit Halloween pop-up costume stores to make their annual appearance in empty storefronts around the country. August seems early to me — Halloween isn’t for another three months, after all — but apparently this is right on schedule for these folks. Last year Spirit took over the empty Cost Plus store at the corner of Jefferson Avenue and Winslow Street here in Redwood City, but this year you’ll find them in the now-empty Pier 1 Imports space in Sequoia Station. I do have to wonder what Halloween is going to be like this year… Socially distanced trick-or-treating, anyone? Anyway, I should also note that Spirit is hiring.
Finally, most folks probably don’t spend much, if any, time along Perry Street (it parallels the Caltrain tracks and runs between Broadway and Brewster Avenue). For some time now a crew has been transforming the old Elgin’s Auto Supply into a single-story office building, and this week they broke open the front corner to make way for new windows and doors:
This is a neat old building, one that is going to make a nice office space for some lucky business (or businesses; it’s possible that the space will be divided). The building’s old skylights will remain, and thus the interior should be flooded with natural light.
There continues to be a lot going on in Redwood City, from large development projects to small moves among retailers and restaurants. Given the number of projects on the city’s Development Projects list that have yet to get underway, plus those Gatekeeper Process projects that have yet to make their way to this list (but likely will be in some form), it appears I’ll have plenty to write about for years to come…
Allow me to leave you with this thought: