Menlo Park: Celebrity chef pulls out of Bradley's Fine Diner

Restaurant closes but may reopen in spring with new concept

By Elena Kadvany

About two years after taking over a large Menlo Park restaurant space to open Bradley's Fine Diner, renowned chef Bradley Ogden has pulled out of the concept, citing "philosophical" and business differences with the parent restaurant group's CEO.

The restaurant at 1165 Merrill St., across from the Caltrain station, closed as of Jan. 1, Mr. Ogden said. Signs recently appeared in the windows saying the restaurant was closed for "winter break" with no indication of when it would reopen.

Mr. Ogden said Christopher Vestal, CEO of Ogden Hospitality Group, which owned BFD in Menlo Park as well as a location in Houston, Texas, that also closed this month, will be "rebooting the restaurant under a different name and company," but he was unsure what that would be. He estimated they would reopen this spring.

Mr. Ogden said he did not know if BFD Menlo's executive chef, Lee Levig Jr., would be staying on or not.

"I've moved on because they wanted to go in a certain direction I didn't want to go," Mr. Ogden said in a phone interview Wednesday.

Two spinoff concepts in Menlo Park and Houston — Bradley's Funky Franks, a hot-dog spinoff located in the same Merrill Street space, and Funky Chicken in Houston — have also closed.

For more, see Elena Kadvany's Peninsula Foodist blog post.


43 people like this
Posted by whatever
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 12, 2017 at 1:05 am

Bring back Fosters Freeze.

37 people like this
Posted by morris brown
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Jan 12, 2017 at 11:43 am

We lost Crepes restaurant which was pushed out by the landowner. What a shame to have lost Crepes to this failed business.

8 people like this
Posted by mPer
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 12, 2017 at 12:22 pm

Feel free to open a fosters freeze franchise if you miss it so much. The former owner retired

15 people like this
Posted by UpinYa!
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 12, 2017 at 1:02 pm

Hmmmm...I wasn't aware of this business, but Foster's Freeze sounds much better.

3 people like this
Posted by Menlo Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 12, 2017 at 1:51 pm

Foster's Freeze was across the street from Menlo Square, the site of Bradley's. The Foster's Freeze closing had nothing to do with Bradley's. It will be difficult to open a new restaurant to replace Bradley's once the construction on the Greenheart project begins as the downtown train station area will be difficult to navigate. But please, the last thing we need is something like the Crepe Restaurant, a restaurant that was a terrible neighbor to those of us who live nearby.

14 people like this
Posted by time on your hands
a resident of another community
on Jan 12, 2017 at 3:07 pm

I want to like BFD, but the service is SO SLOW. Tried it twice. The first time it took more than 30 minutes for them to take our order and 45 minutes after that for a burger. The second time we thought we'd meet a few other couples there - all who have middle school kids at a nearby school - the kids were at a dance from 7-9. Almost didn't get there in time for pick up - Yes TWO HOURS just to get the meal and a check. - we didn't even order appetizers or dessert. Unfortunate.

7 people like this
Posted by Beth
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 12, 2017 at 6:43 pm

I knew Crepes closed, but don't get the connection to BFD, which is in a different location within this center and replaced another restaurant that closed for lack of business.

4 people like this
Posted by Deirdre
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jan 14, 2017 at 2:53 am

Crepes Café's space was taken over by Bradley's. In protest, I never went to BFD. Crepes had trouble with staffing, apparently, but I loved the place.

4 people like this
Posted by MP Home Owner
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jan 15, 2017 at 9:52 pm

Appreciate the attempt by BFD but the cuisine was just not a good match for MP. Owners should model what has been successful in Palo Alto - good ambiance + good food. St Michaels Alley #2 would be perfect!

8 people like this
Posted by pogo
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jan 16, 2017 at 7:46 am

pogo is a registered user.

As others have noted, BFD had so-so food and horrible, arrogant service. Not a winning combination.

I thought Ogden's Lark Creek Cafe in San Mateo was a great place. I don't know why he abandons his successful models but its his money.

6 people like this
Posted by Beth
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 16, 2017 at 12:53 pm

Looking this up, address for Crepes was 1195 Merrill. Address for BFD is 1165 Merrill.

That's where Gambardella's used to be. Anyone besides me remember when Gambardellas's was housed in the very small stand-alone wooden building before the 'Center' replaced it. Wine bottles galore and always packed. And before that, it was a restaurant called Late For the Train, operated by Jesse Cool and her husband.

Perhaps BFD put in their franks place at 1195?

Web Link

4 people like this
Posted by Scholar
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jan 17, 2017 at 1:02 pm

I miss the funky old Gambardellas in the wooden building -- a lot of fun there.

6 people like this
Posted by Brad Lee
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 17, 2017 at 8:01 pm

What's the BFD about it closing? Does anyone really miss it? I miss Crepes Cafe personally. Small, quaint, family-run, French, low-key, quality, real food/ingredients, and good coffee. Please reopen!

4 people like this
Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jan 22, 2017 at 11:15 am

I'll tell you why I stopped going: the food wasn't good enough to match how condescending and arrogant the service was. I was shocked at how snide they were about seating me without a reservation in an empty restaurant. Which was then proceeded by slow and unresponsive waitstaff, and mediocre food. I wanted to love it, too!

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