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Olive Garden shutters in Palo Alto

Uploaded: May 30, 2016
The Palo Alto location of international Italian-restaurant chain Olive Garden is no more.

The restaurant at 2515 El Camino Real closed on May 21, days before the Palo Alto City Council would approve a proposal to demolish the restaurant and replace it with a mixed-use development featuring offices, condominiums and retail space.

The developer for the new project plans to replace the 9,694-square-foot restaurant with a 39,858-square-foot, block-long development.

Hunter Robinson, manager of media relations and communications for Olive Garden, said that closing the Palo Alto outpost was a “difficult business decision, and one we made very carefully and thoughtfully, particularly because it impacts our employees and our guests.

"In no way does this reflect on the quality of our employees' work," he noted in an email, “and we’re doing everything we can to help every team member find a new job."

He said that the company offered Palo Alto employees the option of working at other Olive Garden restaurants or sister restaurants in the area.

The Palo Alto Olive Garden first opened in November 1992. When asked if the company intended to reopen elsewhere in Palo Alto, Robinson wrote: "We are always looking for new locations across the country for Olive Garden, but we don’t comment on any new sites until we have the proper approvals in place."

There are nearby Olive Gardens in San Francisco, San Jose, Milpitas and Fremont, among 800-plus locations across the globe.
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Posted by SEA_SEELAM REDDY, a resident of College Terrace,
on Jun 2, 2016 at 5:07 am

SEA_SEELAM REDDY is a registered user.

It was a decent establishment.

Always got good service and good food.

Thank you Olive Garden for serving us.

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Jun 2, 2016 at 6:09 am

The problem that I see it is that Olive Garden served a local demographic which will really suffer through losing a favorite watering hole.

The idea of going out to dinner at a restaurant that has its own parking lot, with disabled parking right outside the door, is something that many seniors really value. Seniors, particularly if they need to have a walking frame to help them, value being seated to read the menu, seated to place their order, seated to get their check, seated to have refills for their drinks, seated to check that they have all they need, seated to pay their check and put their wallet away.

Many of the newer reasonably priced restaurants do not offer this service. Seniors in particular will suffer as these types of establishments change to counter service. With minimum wage raises, which are good for those that have the jobs and earn the increased wage if they can get enough hours, we are going to see less and less affordable restaurants that offer table service. Staffing restaurants will get more expensive and the numbers of staff will have to be reduced or prices will have to escalate beyond what many can afford.

This is the reality of life in Palo Alto.

Posted by resident, a resident of Midtown,
on Jun 2, 2016 at 10:59 am

Soaring rents in Palo Alto are really hurting full-service low-to-moderate-price restaurants. Part of the problem is that these single story buildings take up a lot of real estate, which of course costs a fortune in Palo Alto. Can the city rezone our commercial districts to allow large-sized moderate-priced retail on the first 2 floors than corporate offices on the upper floors of mid-rise buildings? Replacing all the moderate-priced retail businesses with high-end boutique retail just puts more cars on the road as residents drive to cheaper out-of-town businesses (like Mountain View and Sunnyvale).

Posted by Palo Alto native, a resident of Charleston Meadows,
on Jun 2, 2016 at 2:14 pm

I'll miss the soup, salad and bread sticks lunch! Thank you, Olive Garden!

Posted by P.A. Resident, a resident of Greenmeadow,
on Jun 3, 2016 at 10:47 am

I drove by just last night and noticed the closure. Too bad. We have many choices of dining establishments in the area, but I always enjoyed my meals at this Olive Garden location. Very friendly staff and reasonably-priced food. The mixed-use development going in will be very expensive condos, etc that will not attract the same demographic of this nice Olive Garden restaurant. Palo Alto... only for the wealthy.

Posted by Father of 3, a resident of Midtown,
on Jun 3, 2016 at 1:28 pm

I watched my father-in-law put on about 50 lbs eating regularly at an Olive Garden. Sure it offers a parking lot, and reasonably priced food and a lot of it. But the salt, sugar and fat that went into making it all so tasty is part of the obesity and poor-health epidemic which is so wide-spread and which fast food chains and the ones a step or two up like Olive Garden bank on. So I can't join you in the post-mortem reminiscing for good old OG. Would love to see good old Jack in the Box on El Camino join it.

Posted by Menlo Voter., a resident of Menlo Park: other,
on Jun 3, 2016 at 5:39 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

The food sucks. To call it "Italian" is a joke. Imitation italian is more like it. Surprised they lasted this long.

Posted by Plane Speaker, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Jun 4, 2016 at 12:56 am

Awwww, too bad. The Olive Garden had its problems, but it was a nice place
to go, relax and get some good food that was not too expensive or too far away.
Though I did not go there a lot I will miss it. It was a great place for family or
group dinners.

Posted by Plane Speaker, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Jun 4, 2016 at 12:58 am

OK, you know about the Olive Garden ... but is there any news what happened to the Palo Alto Breakfast House in Midtown?

Posted by chris, a resident of University South,
on Jun 6, 2016 at 11:41 am

Although there are many Olive Gardens nationally, checking how far the nearest OG's are from Palo Alto is an indication that it is not economically feasible for the local demographic.

Posted by Alan, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven,
on Jun 6, 2016 at 3:41 pm

Were they losing money? Or did they figure they could make a killing selling the real estate? My guess is the latter ... I haven't been there for a decade.

Posted by Bruce, a resident of Barron Park,
on Jun 6, 2016 at 5:33 pm

Bruce is a registered user.

Went occasionally. Food meh.

I feel sorry for those that were employed there!

Posted by Epicure, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park,
on Jun 6, 2016 at 8:29 pm

I like to eat at Gail's Ganja Garden. Very creative cooking. That lady has mastered the use of exotic herbs and spices in her meal preparation. A true gastronomical delight.

Posted by StaycationFamily, a resident of Meadow Park,
on Jul 2, 2016 at 11:54 am

Sad, and as others have noted - a reflection of the rising cost of maintaining a small-medium size establishment renting commercial space in Palo Alto. The Olive Garden chain is now managed by a PE, and I'm certain EBIDTA meant more to it than reputation and service to the local community.
We've enjoyed many family dinners here throughout the years. We used to joke about the fact that we sat at every room and table over time. Loved the salad and breadsticks, and the kids' favorite Zappolies. We'll miss it.

Posted by Billy Bones, a resident of another community,
on Oct 14, 2016 at 7:54 am

When I was at Stanford it was Stickney's Golden Chicken [Never went. Couldn't afford it.}, then later The Shirt Tail restaurant. {Had the massive illuminated sign re-done from a chicken to a white sheet looking thing. Never went. Couldn't afford it.} Now, more than fifty years later we have what is called "Highest and best use" in action. Why grazing becomes the corner of El Camino and Page Mill. In the same fifty years.

You want a shocker? In twenty years Town and Country will be gone. Mixed use commercial-residential. That's the future. Such things are stopped only by war, famine, pestilence or plague.

Posted by Plane Speaker, a resident of Crescent Park,
on Oct 14, 2016 at 7:33 pm

EDITOR ... can you place delete the nonsense words and dangerous un-named links ( for those with PCs ) I reported them twice, and it is nonsense and could be a problem for someone. If you search the same post is in several unrelated stories ... it is SPAM at best.

Posted by Sarah, a resident of Menlo Park,
on Nov 26, 2016 at 9:46 pm

I'm really sorry to see another long-time place to eat go the way of every other affordable thing to do in my hometown. I'm in my early '60's and I was born in Palo Alto and I just feel so sad that another place will be leveled to add more of what we don't need. More concrete office buildings, more unaffordable shops and condos with ridiculous rents. It's been a long time since I have been able to recognize the lovely, friendly town I grew up in. This closure is just another nail in the coffin.

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