News

Menlo Park BBC deal falls through

Former Facebook executive Owen Van Natta drops out

Kill the social media buzz: A former Facebook executive has pulled out of a plan to reopen the landmark British Bankers Club in Menlo Park.

The deal fell apart about a month ago, according to landlord Dennis Grimsman.

As the Almanac first reported, Owen Van Natta, a social media entrepreneur, applied for a new liquor license for the restaurant through the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control earlier this year, and filed for federal registration of the BBC trademark in March.

Mr. Van Natta pulled out after due diligence indicated that "certain contingencies in the deal" wouldn't pan out, Mr. Grimsman said.

In a case of unfortunate timing, the new owners of Kepler's Books and Magazines -- Praveen Madan and Christin Evans -- approached the landlord about leasing the space for the bookstore early last year.

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"I was taken aback -- Kepler's, in here?" Mr. Grimsman said. "(They) really wanted it, but I had just signed the deal with Owen."

He said he's looking for a quality tenant. "The building deserves it. I'm going to hold out until I get someone good. Someone with common sense."

Before becoming the BBC, the building at 1090 El Camino Real housed Menlo Park's administrative and police departments. In more recent years the restaurant's rowdy reputation took a turn toward infamous after a busboy and a cook were arrested for sexually assaulting two women at the club in 2010. According to police, the men followed the women to an upstairs room in the club. Both pleaded guilty to related charges.

Former owners Lance White and Richard Eldridge initially said the BBC had closed for remodeling in January 2012, but eventually announced online that it would not reopen.

Mr. Van Natta did not respond to requests for comment.

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Menlo Park BBC deal falls through

Former Facebook executive Owen Van Natta drops out

by / Almanac

Uploaded: Sun, Jan 6, 2013, 11:22 pm

Kill the social media buzz: A former Facebook executive has pulled out of a plan to reopen the landmark British Bankers Club in Menlo Park.

The deal fell apart about a month ago, according to landlord Dennis Grimsman.

As the Almanac first reported, Owen Van Natta, a social media entrepreneur, applied for a new liquor license for the restaurant through the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control earlier this year, and filed for federal registration of the BBC trademark in March.

Mr. Van Natta pulled out after due diligence indicated that "certain contingencies in the deal" wouldn't pan out, Mr. Grimsman said.

In a case of unfortunate timing, the new owners of Kepler's Books and Magazines -- Praveen Madan and Christin Evans -- approached the landlord about leasing the space for the bookstore early last year.

"I was taken aback -- Kepler's, in here?" Mr. Grimsman said. "(They) really wanted it, but I had just signed the deal with Owen."

He said he's looking for a quality tenant. "The building deserves it. I'm going to hold out until I get someone good. Someone with common sense."

Before becoming the BBC, the building at 1090 El Camino Real housed Menlo Park's administrative and police departments. In more recent years the restaurant's rowdy reputation took a turn toward infamous after a busboy and a cook were arrested for sexually assaulting two women at the club in 2010. According to police, the men followed the women to an upstairs room in the club. Both pleaded guilty to related charges.

Former owners Lance White and Richard Eldridge initially said the BBC had closed for remodeling in January 2012, but eventually announced online that it would not reopen.

Mr. Van Natta did not respond to requests for comment.

Comments

Highest and Best Use
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 7, 2013 at 5:50 am
Highest and Best Use, Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 7, 2013 at 5:50 am
Like this comment

Given the history of the building, perhaps the City should consider purchasing the building and returning it to its roots. Perhaps leases could be signed with the Menlo Park Chamber of Commerce, the Menlo Park Historical Association, etc. making it a focal point for visitors and others.


Thomas Paine IV
Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Jan 7, 2013 at 9:24 am
Thomas Paine IV, Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Jan 7, 2013 at 9:24 am
Like this comment

Much better to honor MP tradition and leave it empty like all those other empty buildings :)


Sports Bar
Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Jan 7, 2013 at 12:19 pm
Sports Bar, Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Jan 7, 2013 at 12:19 pm
Like this comment

Please please please, bring back-to-life a good neighborhood Bar with good pub food. Menlo Needs a good water hole... ideally a place to watch a game as well!


Sports Bar
Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Jan 7, 2013 at 12:20 pm
Sports Bar, Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Jan 7, 2013 at 12:20 pm
Like this comment

that's "watering hole"


WhoRUpeople
another community
on Jan 7, 2013 at 1:31 pm
WhoRUpeople, another community
on Jan 7, 2013 at 1:31 pm
Like this comment

Sports Bar--you have two good alternatives-the Oasis (beer & wine and good pub food) and the THe Goose (same thing but with hard liquor as well).. To my taste, the O is more family oriented and the kids have a ball. I was a big fan of the BBC "back in the day" when Dennis was the owner, but now, how many resteraunts/cafes/eating establishments does one relatively small town need?; or better yet, can it support?


chambemember
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 7, 2013 at 1:59 pm
chambemember, Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 7, 2013 at 1:59 pm
Like this comment

Perhaps the chamber, or a chamber member, should by the property and keep the city out of it.


MPHA Board Member
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 7, 2013 at 2:19 pm
MPHA Board Member, Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 7, 2013 at 2:19 pm
Like this comment

Since the building is historical, a perfect spot for the Menlo Park Historical Association Museum. Presently we are located in an office in the library but are anxious to move to a location where we can display the many items we have in our archives.


WhoRUpeople
another community
on Jan 7, 2013 at 2:28 pm
WhoRUpeople, another community
on Jan 7, 2013 at 2:28 pm
Like this comment

Do you have any idea how much that beautiful old building in that great location is worth!!! Museum? not a chance.


Hmmm
another community
on Jan 7, 2013 at 2:52 pm
Hmmm, another community
on Jan 7, 2013 at 2:52 pm
Like this comment

I hope that the conditions are such that someone can turn it into a wonderful place that brings in good revenue. During its final chapter, I only went a few times w/old friends who insisted on checking it out. I was unimpressed & boycotted it completely after the sexual assaults. My memories of it are now bookended by those assaults & seeing a famous musician doing cocaine in the restroom. I was a kid then & pretty shocked.


Jim Lewis
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 7, 2013 at 8:13 pm
Jim Lewis, Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 7, 2013 at 8:13 pm
Like this comment

Why not all of the above? This is a multi-tenant building with space both on the first floor and the second floor. Perhaps a use in the front could generate enough income to pay the bills and another area could accommodate a worthwhile non-profit group, such as the Menlo Park Chamber of Commerce, a Menlo Park Historical Museum etc. Quite frankly, it may be well to go back to square one and carefully consider what the highest and best use(s)might be.


Jake
Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Jan 8, 2013 at 8:53 am
Jake, Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Jan 8, 2013 at 8:53 am
Like this comment

@WhoRUpeople, Sports Bar didn't ask for a resteraunt/cafe/eating establishment. MP does indeed have plenty of those. (S)he asked for a bar. Of which there are zero in this town for the past year.


Sports Bar
Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Jan 8, 2013 at 11:02 am
Sports Bar, Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Jan 8, 2013 at 11:02 am
Like this comment

@Jake - YES! I would love to see a bar! Or a resurrection of the BBC of days old. I would rather grab a dink in MP than Palo Alto if i could these days. I miss the old round couches of the BBC and we also used to see some good bands there. TVs help bring in the crowd on the off hours. I spend plenty of time at the Goose and the O with my kids and husband. I wouldn't say that Menlo Park has plenty of places for adults to "hang out." Also- I think Menlo could use a bar/restaurant that serves pub food that is a little more upscale than the "O." I think this would fill a void.


Sports Bar 2nd
Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Jan 8, 2013 at 12:35 pm
Sports Bar 2nd, Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Jan 8, 2013 at 12:35 pm
Like this comment

Menlo Park NEEDS a "cool" bar for adults to gather, watch sports, eat some good food, have a drink and relax. Would love to see the BBC brought back to glory as an upscale, clean Sports Bar/Pub with several TVs, weekly live musical acts of all sorts and good pub food. It needs very little as far as decor and layout with the main area below and the more private bar upstairs that could maybe be reserved? You want revenue? Make it a destination like the Old Pro in Palo Alto, but nicer!


Woodrow
Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jan 8, 2013 at 12:43 pm
Woodrow, Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jan 8, 2013 at 12:43 pm
Like this comment

I just hope MP police don't 'misplace' evidence when a wealthy owner of a sports franchise is caught with his hand up a cookie jar. Back in the day indeed!


Ol' Homeboy
Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jan 8, 2013 at 12:58 pm
Ol' Homeboy, Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jan 8, 2013 at 12:58 pm
Like this comment

WhoRUpeople - "...how many restaurants/bars does one relatively small town need?, or better yet, support?"
Have you counted the number of bank branches or real estate offices there are in this town? There's enough money, diners and drinkers in this small town to support several more - if the atmosphere and venue is done right (try getting a seat at the bar or table at Carpaccio any night).
Besides, Menlo Park has a very rigid policy on prime downtown retail spreproducing emphasis on producing tax dollars for the City. Historical museum, no way. Heck, the Almanac posts the same 20 or so historical photos every year - and the bigC influx of new MP residents over the past decade or two have no connection to this town's past.
Think I'll go pick up some smokes at Johnny's, then buy an airplane model and some dope at Don's Hobby Shop, before wolfing down a cheeseburger and fries at Jiffy Burgers.


Mark
Atherton: Lloyden Park
on Jan 8, 2013 at 1:58 pm
Mark, Atherton: Lloyden Park
on Jan 8, 2013 at 1:58 pm
Like this comment

Ol' Homeboy

I'd join you at Don's, but the lady there always thinks I'm stealing something.....

I'll meet you at Jiffy's, but first I gotta get a new tube for my bike tire at Menlo Bike and Key then head over to Sprouse-Reitz to pick up a plastic German Luger squirt gun (present for my brother). If we have time, we can go turn in the wooden nickel from KYA that I found along Glenwood Ave at Joe Prein's for a 45 record, and then after checking the dumpsters at the car wash on Oak Grove, we can put a few pennies on the tracks.... :-. Or we could go to Edy's on Encinal for a cherry phosphate....


WhoRUpeople
another community
on Jan 8, 2013 at 2:14 pm
WhoRUpeople, another community
on Jan 8, 2013 at 2:14 pm
Like this comment

I evidently touched a nerve I did not mean to touch. I would absolutely support a cool sports bar in town. My point was we do have a few and they deserve our support. I do find it a bit interesting that a town that makes a federal case out of a company like Bevmo wanting to open a store and sell booze (and create revenue) is so quick to say it needs more bars


O'' Homeboy
Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jan 8, 2013 at 2:56 pm
O'' Homeboy, Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jan 8, 2013 at 2:56 pm
Like this comment

Mark -
Better yet, after you finish folding papers and your Recorder route and collections (why bother?), we can meet at Johnny's for some serious pinball.
- Juñior


Menlo Voter
Menlo Park: other
on Jan 8, 2013 at 6:50 pm
Menlo Voter, Menlo Park: other
on Jan 8, 2013 at 6:50 pm
Like this comment

WhoR:

just so we're clear, it wasn't the "people of Menlo Park" making a huge issue out of a Bevmo coming here. It was Beltramos and Draegers. They both seem to think they have an exclusive right to sell alcohol at ridiculous prices and there should be no competition. I wouldn't be surprised if the two of them weren't colluding on prices before Bevmo got here. Their prices for the same products were virtually identical.

After Beltramo's disgusting memo ORDERING their employees to attend city council meetings where the Bevmo issue was being discussed and ordering them to speak against the Bevmo to try to sway the council against allowing Bevmo in town I have refused to do any business there.


Hmmm
another community
on Jan 8, 2013 at 9:06 pm
Hmmm, another community
on Jan 8, 2013 at 9:06 pm
Like this comment

^^^^^Yep & ditto^^^^^


WhoRUpeople
another community
on Jan 9, 2013 at 8:23 am
WhoRUpeople, another community
on Jan 9, 2013 at 8:23 am
Like this comment

MV & Hmmm, thanks for the clarifying comments re the Bevmo fiasco; my comment was off base.


Hmmm
another community
on Jan 9, 2013 at 9:59 am
Hmmm, another community
on Jan 9, 2013 at 9:59 am
Like this comment

No prob - it was such a kerfuffle that if you were disgusted & stopped paying attention for the moment, you'd likely miss important details- such as the dirty pool played by entrenched local businesses. Happy New Year!


3rd in favor of upscale bar/live music
Atherton: West Atherton
on Jan 14, 2013 at 9:25 pm
3rd in favor of upscale bar/live music, Atherton: West Atherton
on Jan 14, 2013 at 9:25 pm
Like this comment

Loved the BBC before all the employee problems. Beautiful building, atmosphere, comfortable seating, full bar, fun live music. It was the only place in Menlo Park place like this - a very different atmosphere from the Goose and the O. And for those of us with kids, it was a fun place to go to have a break not only from our kids, but from our cohorts friends as well.

It would be great to have the full bar/live music combo again. And, if someone managed to bring in some higher-end bands, and continued to have quality bar food, this venue could be highly successful not just with imports from more distant towns on the peninsula, but with our local population. If I had experience in this area, I'd be all over this. I hope someone with experience steps up.


In favor of BBC returning
another community
on Apr 8, 2013 at 6:06 pm
In favor of BBC returning, another community
on Apr 8, 2013 at 6:06 pm
Like this comment

Bring it back. One of the only places left to have a drink, food AND smoke.


Hmmm
another community
on Apr 8, 2013 at 8:59 pm
Hmmm, another community
on Apr 8, 2013 at 8:59 pm
Like this comment

So given that the BBC AND Su Hong are closed - with no takers - what's Menlo going to do about it?


Menlo Voter
Menlo Park: other
on Apr 8, 2013 at 9:04 pm
Menlo Voter, Menlo Park: other
on Apr 8, 2013 at 9:04 pm
Like this comment

Hmmm:

Menlo can't do anything about it given the fact that no one can count on zoning and planning decisions in this town. When a few screamers can overturn granted zoning, why would anyone invest money in this town? I wouldn't and won't and I live here.


Hmmm
another community
on Apr 9, 2013 at 1:19 pm
Hmmm, another community
on Apr 9, 2013 at 1:19 pm
Like this comment

^^ Yep, MV, you're right. Sad. I wonder if SH has a current lease or might own the building? That might impact when/if something else opens up there soon.


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