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Allied Arts Guild restaurant to close; future of historic complex uncertain

Original post made by Gern Blanston, Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks, on Jan 16, 2007

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How about yet another high-density housing project, a la our previous infill-loving Menlo Park City Council majority? SummerHill and O'Brien would surely queue up for a stake in the action, lawsuits, referendums, and residents be damned.

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Posted by Renee Batti
associate editor of The Almanac
on Jan 17, 2007 at 9:39 am

Renee Batti is a registered user.

Although rumors were already flying at the guild Tuesday when word got out about the restaurant's closure, it appears the Woodside-Atherton Auxiliary is not planning to sell and/or close Allied Arts Guild. The Almanac's original online story was written before an auxiliary spokeswoman could be reached. We've updated the online story, and a more detailed story will appear in next week's print edition.

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Posted by PAA Member
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 25, 2007 at 7:35 am


When AAG Restaurant reopened in November of 2004, the customer turnout was spectacular! So much so, that the members could hardly serve all of them satisfactorily. In 2005, many past customers did not return, partly because of the poor service and/or unacceptable meals received in 2004, but also because of the disappointment in the shops on the complex. In 2006, the meals improved significantly, but the volume of traffic did not increase. Indeed, the restaurant business suffered a significant loss in profit, not only in 2005 but also in 2006. The loss was so severe that some profits from other business segments, such as the American Girl Event and Cookbook, were used to pay for the restaurant expenses. Because of added restrictions placed on PAA by the new layout of the restaurant and the lease (which we understand was driven somewhat by the city of Menlo Park), PAA was unable to recover those losses, as they had always been able to do in the past.

In addition to a shortfall of customers, PAA was also suffering from a shortfall of volunteers – especially volunteers who were physically able to do the hard work required of restaurant preparation and service. However, warriors that they are, the PAA members would have struggled another year, searching for a way to make the restaurant profitable. That is why so many members had mixed emotions when they learned that PAA would not be offered an extension to their lease.

In the long run, PAA understands that good business practices should take precedence over emotional ones. WA, our landlord, took a good, hard look at the situation on the complex and came to terms with how they might be able to make substantial improvements toward profitability. They decided that turning the restaurant business over to a professional caterer could answer many of the problems. PAA understands that this was a hard decision, and harder yet when WA had to convey this message to a devoted sister auxiliary. And, of course, the members of PAA were deeply saddened to hear that they would be relinquishing their lease to a professional caterer. Saying “good by” to a beloved volunteer job (spanning 74 years in time) became a real tear jerker.

However, (I repeat) warriors that they are, as soon as the emotional heartache passes, PAA will turn its attention to new and innovative fund-raising activities. They will also continue with the offsite American Girl Doll Event and, of course, the award-winning cookbook, which will be more valuable than ever, since it is now truly an inspiring
74-year legacy.

Members of the PAA would like to take this opportunity to thank WA for giving us so many happy and successful years at Allied Arts Guild Restaurant. We wish WA the very best of luck in bringing the complex back to full profitability, and we sincerely hope the restaurant will continue to flourish with fresh new management. Hopefully, the volunteers of both auxiliaries will stay in touch and remain good friends. We know that both auxiliaries will never lose sight of their joint mission to raise funds for LPCH.

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