News


Menlo Park: Conflicting info on sale of Menalto Corners retail center

Tenants, including Cafe Zoe, in dark about future

The sale of Menalto Corners, a 4,400-square-foot retail center at 1923-1929 Menalto Ave. in Menlo Park, in a quick deal may have fallen through, although conflicting reports are circulating on the building's current status.

Last week, the real estate agent for Cafe Zoe was told by the agent representing the owner of Menalto Corners that the building had been sold in a quick deal, and that no counter-offers would be considered, according to Cafe Zoe's owner, Kathleen Daly.

Ms. Daly said she got a call on Feb. 11 from her agent, Adela Gildo-Mazzon, informing her of the sale. Sources at the cafe at the time the call arrived and those familiar with the situation confirmed the report.

She told the Almanac on Feb. 21 that the impression it had been an all-cash deal was an assumption on her part, but that the conversation was clear that it was a done deal.

Now it appears that deal fell through, although the retail center's tenants have gotten conflicting information this week on the property's status.

Suheil Sahouria, the agent representing landlord Anatole Zelkin, has not responded to requests to clarify the situation beyond claiming nothing in the story was accurate. Mr. Zelkin was not amenable to being interviewed and told the Almanac at the time the first story ran that he would not give out any information.

The building is listed at $1.45 million.

A sale could mean that Cafe Zoe will have to find a new home. Owner Kathleen Daly told the Almanac that she, like two other tenants -- Twig and Petals and Captivating Dance by Nona -- have no leases under the current owner. The fourth tenant, Habibi's Salon, was under contract.

The tenants learned about the possible sale in early January after negotiations over rent and utility increases fell apart.

Mr. Sahouria said the tenants turned down the offer of long-term leases.

After leaving voicemails inquiring about the sale last week, the tenants reportedly heard from Mr. Zelkin a few days ago, and received unclear information as to whether a deal is in progress or the building remains up for sale.

Ms. Daly has been pursuing options to purchase the building herself with help from either investors or a small business loan. During its five and a half years at the retail center, her restaurant has become a fixture in the Willows community.

"We know nothing at this point," she told the Almanac. "We just really don't know. It's really kind of a mystery."

Residents expressed hope that a new landlord would see the value of the community's investment in the Menalto Center businesses; Ms. Daly said the tenants remain optimistic.

Comments

Posted by Sheldon Kay, a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Feb 19, 2014 at 7:04 am

If Cafe Zoe has to leave, I hope the neighborhood would sponsor a permanent boycott of who ever moves in.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 19, 2014 at 7:48 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

As much as I hope Cafe Zoe and the new owners will be able to reach a new lease agreement the suggestion that "If Cafe Zoe has to leave, I hope the neighborhood would sponsor a permanent boycott of who ever moves in." is unwise, immoral and illegal ( a secondary boycott).

"Secondary boycotts may be enjoined, or stopped, by order of a federal court, and an aggrieved business may file suit in court against the party initiating the secondary boycott to recover any monetary damages that resulted."

If Cafe Zoe is forced to leave whoever leases the space deserves to be judged on their merits and not on the actions of the property owner.


Posted by stranger, a resident of another community
on Feb 19, 2014 at 4:38 pm

The property has not been sold. I don't know why the author is reporting false information, but pretty much everything in the above story is incorrect. No one is forcing anyone to leave. Seriously, why would anyone force Café Zoe out? The author apparently wanted to produce a hatchet job, and the results are spectacular.

Editor's note: The broker for Cafe Zoe's owner was told by the broker representing Mr. Zelkin last week that the building had sold in a quick, all cash deal, and that no counter-offers would be considered. The owner of the cafe was then given this information by her broker.

It appears that deal may have subsequently fallen through, although the tenants have gotten conflicting information this week on the property's status.

Mr. Zelkin's broker has not responded to requests to clarify the situation beyond claiming nothing in the story was accurate. Mr. Zelkin was not amenable to being interviewed and told the Almanac at the time the first story ran that he would not give out any information. We continue to ask for their perspective and hope they will provide one.


Posted by stats, a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Feb 22, 2014 at 6:30 pm

Peter,
I agree that any new businesses should be judged on their own merit, but a secondary boycott in this context is most certainly not illegal. The provisions you quote come specifically from labor law, where it is illegal for labor unions to engage in secondary boycotts or secondary actions. Individuals are entirely within their first amendment rights to band together and protest something they don't like.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 22, 2014 at 6:40 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

I continue to believe that boycotting a tenant for the actions of the tenant's landlord is both unwise and immoral.


Posted by Steve Rasmussen, a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Feb 23, 2014 at 10:11 am

Community…
This seems to be what the businesses in Menalto Corners have created and have served these past few years.
For longtime residents like my wife and I, the transformation of Menalto Corners into a gathering place of dance, mochas, blossoms, cakes and coiffures has been embraced by our neighbors and ourselves.
We hope and expect that the buoyant spirit of Menalto Corners will survive the simple matter of a change of landlords for one of the buildings in this delightful part of town.
The suggestion of a boycott is a manifestation of a strong emotional kinship with what the Menalto Corners is today thanks to the current tenants that have brought about this vibrancy. A wise new property owner will be attracted to Menalto Corners for what it is, not for what it can become.


Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 23, 2014 at 10:39 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

"The suggestion of a boycott is a manifestation of a strong emotional kinship with what the Menalto Corners is today thanks to the current tenants that have brought about this vibrancy."

That provides little logic for punishing possible new tenants - you could really shoot the community in the foot by having empty stores because your threat of boycott discourages new tenants.

I would hope for a more enlightened strategy to preserve something that the community values. For example, Form a neighborhood cooperative and buy the property and then keep great tenants and search for better tenants to replace any who leave.


Posted by stats, a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Feb 23, 2014 at 4:51 pm

Peter,
I think folks in the Menalto neighborhood are already moving along the lines you suggested, a community bid on Menalto Corners. That's why the notion of a possible quick sale have some perturbed to the point of suggesting a secondary boycott. I'm afraid that negotiations on multiple sides of a real estate transaction are not as enlightened as you or I would wish, but that's capitalism in action.


Posted by Brady Barksdale, a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Feb 25, 2014 at 10:49 pm

I find it strange that the Broker or Landlord will not respond to clarify the situation. It sounds like they are trying to paint the tenants in a corner and either force them on a new lease with unfavorable terms or want to force the tenants to move out so they could sell the space unoccupied which may inflate the sales price as now the new owner can dictate a high rent price.

I hope whomever ends up purchasing this property will sit down with each business and see how they can support their needs as that is the only way one can establish quick trust and prevent these wonderful local businesses from moving out of the a Willows.


Posted by Martin Lamarque, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Mar 2, 2014 at 7:01 pm

Forgive my naïveté. But I still can't understand why the dealings between an owner of a building with his/her agent need to be part of public discussion.


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