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What are you doing for families, Mountain View?

Original post made by Palo Alto Resident on Jun 3, 2014

Boardwalk is closing (I know this is officially Los Altos). Where are families supposed to shop together, eat together, nowadays.

We have lost Burger King, Fresh Choice, Marie Callenders, Sears, Sports Authority, Shoe Pavilion (or whatever shoe store it became). Instead we have the Counter which is not a replacement for any of these.

Where are families supposed to go for affordable meals out together? Where can we go out to eat to linger over a meal that suits everyone in the family? Where is the heart and soul of the area going? Developers are making decisions that are basically destroying family time. We lost the Palo Alto Bowl too.

Please stop it now. No more. Fini. Bring back family oriented destinations, pronto.

Comments (41)

Posted by Back in NYC, a resident of another community
on Jun 3, 2014 at 9:59 am

Have you ever run across a street in MV called Castro? The Kohls shopping area?? Seriously, if San Antonio Center circa 1980 was your "Heart and soul" area of MV, I'm not sure there is a replacement, like there isn't a replacement for Mayfield Mall of the 1970s. That's a good thing in my book

At least you'll be happy to know that the Burger King on ECR has re-opened.

Posted by Linda Curtis, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 3, 2014 at 11:16 am

That which I, and many others, enjoyed in MV is gone, or soon to be, replaced with stuff that isn't cheap or family oriented. For example, the biggest BevMo, that has everything you need for a party in one place, or the Ross, that was so handy and affordable, as Phase II of San Antonio needs to be upscale for further gentrification of the city. Milk Pail might soon be among this number of businesses that are crushed or kicked out.

Better Bagel sure was, despite it being healthier than the burger place that is all that is now left near enough the elder living arrangement (on Grant near ECR) to allow them to get there without vehicles. We all are sure missing the bulldozed Marie Calenders for the Sunday Buffet and the many fablous favors of great pies, and Sears, where one could accomplish so much in one stop. The handicapped parking there was always ample and shady.

But tear it all down and build stuff to appeal to those with more money to make more money for the builders. It is money that matters, as this is being done for the new imported folks who work at the ever more, big employers. Increasing gentrification of MV all the time, which is what is forcing many of us out.

MV doesn't have ice floes, but we are seeing the older folks figuratively floating out to sea with their needs no longer being well met and the new building driving the rents up higher and higher.

Posted by Parisian Burger not being served any longer, a resident of Gemello
on Jun 3, 2014 at 12:38 pm

Since so many people are still clamoring to get into MV, it must true: different people have different tastes and change happens. Huh, go figure.

Posted by Scott Lamb, a resident of Monta Loma
on Jun 3, 2014 at 1:19 pm

Scott Lamb is a registered user.

@Linda Curtis: This is why existing middle-class homeowners should be worried about rising rents and property values. If you want to cash out and leave, you can do quite well. But if you want to stay, there needs to be some kind of home in Mountain View that middle-class people can afford to buy, or you'll become a second-class citizen as businesses and other aspects of the community cater solely to people who can afford to live here.

With the amount of essentially unstoppable job growth in the area, single-family home prices aren't going down in the foreseeable future. But I believe we could add medium-density condos which are affordable for the middle class, along with the transit, trails, parks, schools, and other services that go with them.

Posted by incognito, a resident of Waverly Park
on Jun 3, 2014 at 2:38 pm

@Palo Alto Resident, I agree. My family has many fond memories of going bowling, whether with friends or just us. We used to shop at the shoe store, the sporting goods store, and at Sears for hardware and appliances. When our children were in high school, they and their friends often went to the Boardwalk and Fresh Choice. The "artisanal cocktails made with house-infused spirits" at Paul Martin's and the "Mimosa Milkshake" at the Counter don't give the impression of a family restaurant.

Maybe a trip to Safeway counts as a fun family outing!

Posted by Who decided to close the shops?, a resident of Bailey Park
on Jun 3, 2014 at 2:44 pm

Apparently some people don't know there are other areas of town.
Most of the stores mentioned went out of business because they did not make money. It has ZERO to do with Mountain View, and EVERYTHING to do with lack of business either at the corp level, or the individual franchise level.
Franchises close down when people do not shop there. Apparently you needed to take many more family outings for shoes, sporting goods and stuff at Sears.

Posted by Sparty, a resident of another community
on Jun 3, 2014 at 3:21 pm

Palo Alto resident-- who is the "we" in the Mountain View businesses you list?

Five Guys-- not expensive. Lots of seating. If you have kids, they have paper and crayons for them to draw--drawings which are displayed on the walls.

Sweet Tomatoes is a better alternative to Fresh Choice IMO. Actual salad variety, not 12 versions of ice berg lettuce. There is still a bagel store

What has Palo Alto done? Added the Apple store? Cheesecake Factory? Yet another nail salon? Trying to close off lanes on California Ave? The water tank debacle? What does this achieve for families?

The Boardwalk- yes for kids. As noted in their yelp reviews mentioned kids that run wild and unrestrained through the restaurant.

The problem here seems to be with a loss of "American food." I see plenty of families eating at Lu Noodle... There is now Chef Papa which has been PACKED since it opened. As another commented posted...times change...people change... celebrate diversity, not artery clogging fast food.

Posted by Palo Alto Resident, a resident of another community
on Jun 3, 2014 at 5:32 pm

Sorry, didn't mean to make this a Mountain View v Palo Alto issue. I feel Palo Alto is doing exactly the same thing destroying family friendly places. We miss Cookbook Restaurant and Hobees at Town & Country, the Sesame Street Store and Disney Store in Stanford and even the ball pit and grand piano McDonalds at Stanford.

San Antonio used to be our "go to" shopping area, we would do Burger King after soccer games on Saturdays, buy soccer shoes at the sports store or go to Fresh Choice for a healthier option. Sizzlers was also another favorite as was Marie Callenders. Castro area and Grant Road are just that bit further away for a quick meal run particularly on a school night. In fact the day Palo Alto lost power due to the plane crash in East Palo Alto, we have fond memories of meeting all our neighbors at Fresh Choice while the kids sat together doing homework since nobody had any idea when power would return.

This area is losing its family friendly feel. American food doesn't have to be artery clogging. Our kids love salad bars and food they recognize, particularly when they can put it on their plates themselves. We are out of the kids' menu stage, but even with teenagers it is getting harder to find somewhere to go for a quick family meal without driving too far is getting harder.

Posted by Linda Curtis, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 3, 2014 at 6:00 pm

@Who decided to close the shops?

Having attended the city council sessions in which decisions were made by council to approve new project plans that kicked out existing businesses (who actually were favorites and doing very well), I know exactly who.

Gochi's Japanese Fusion Tapas (yum) is on the list, as is BevMo and Ross. Better Bagels was on it last September and was gone in only a month or so.

Nothing is safe. And there isn't much left that I care about in the way of businesses. There are a couple downtown on Castro, but the council is admittedly only holding off on that popular area for a few more years. So I guess I'll stay just for the weather, as I have lived in Sunnyvale and in many Bay Area cities, and MV has always been the only one that is exactly right for me. Too bad new stuff ignores weather with HVAC 24/7. What a waste and how unecological.

Posted by Tradeoffs, a resident of another community
on Jun 3, 2014 at 7:05 pm

Friends raising young children moved from the Bay Area to Elk Grove, a Sacramento suburb, where they rent a 3-BR 2-bath house in a pleasant neighborhood for around $1500 monthly. (Elk Grove, incidentally, started the same way and in the same era as Mountain View -- as a stagecoach stop, mid-1800s.) UC Davis and Sacramento State are nearby. It's not even all that far from the Bay Area.

More relevantly, its median household income is comparable to Mountain View's, yet its real estate prices are one-third. Substantial houses can be bought for under $300k.

Elk Grove has most of the chain restaurants mentioned here, and Chick Fil-A too. It isn't, of course, the hometown of silicon valley (1956), whose effects in and near Mountain View have been conspicuous since the 1960s (so no one can reasonably claim to be surprised by them today). I also doubt that it has such a compact pedestrian downtown with over 100 restaurants of every possible type and price (new ones poised to open even now), near a Performing Arts Center and other city amenities. And it has fewer memories, because much of its population growth was since 2000. Life is full of trade-offs...

Posted by Scott Lamb, a resident of Monta Loma
on Jun 3, 2014 at 10:16 pm

Scott Lamb is a registered user.

@Who decided to close the shops?

"Franchises close down when people do not shop there." Indeed! And that has a lot to do with the changing demographics of the community. If rents and property values continue to skyrocket, over time businesses will cater to increasing affluent consumers. Those rents and property values have a lot to do with city council decisions. The city council may not always pick exactly which businesses go where, but their actions do have a powerful effect on the city as a whole.

Posted by Sparty, a resident of another community
on Jun 3, 2014 at 10:51 pm

Hobees closed at the Pruneyard too... a big location where you didn't get someone's elbow in the side of your head every time someone lifted their arm to take a happens. So did big chain restaurant Left at Albuquerque. Was it mom and pops that drove them out?

Big Yellow House used to be in Milpitas--they had the shtick where you weighed kids to see how much they were charged. The Farm House used to be in well as Perko's Koffe Kup and tons of family restaurants. Two people in my graduating class had parents that owned a restaurant. Both are closed now. Sometimes the kids don't want to stay in the restaurant business.

Montgomery Wards gone, Home Express gone, Mervyn's gone, Emporium Capwell gone...

San Antonio has a pizza shop opening where you build your own pizza. Sounds like something aimed at kids to me...

Elk Grove??? I seriously doubt Elk Grove has the same households as Mountain View, where we're getting these median *household* stats from. Look at the apartments on Latham. People packed like sardines. Next time you drive down Shoreline, keep an eye out at California Ave. There's a house at that intersection that sometimes has a door or window can see the entire house is filled with bunk beds and rolling wardrobe racks. Where I live there is an unit owned by a local restauranteur...everyone who lives here knows what is going on... nothing but mattresses all over the floor.

My friend lived off Mercy/Hope in Mt View. Graduated from high school in the early 90s. She used to go downtown and roller skate in the middle of Castro. She'd also see people riding horses down the middle of Castro. Times change.

Marie Callendar bankrupt, Sizzler bankrupt (again...) you can't blame those closures on gentrification or greedy city council members catering to developers...

That shoe store at San Antonio Center... broken acoustical ceiling tiles and always a mess. They weren't even trying.

Sears/Kmart conglom is going to close another 1,000 stores...

Elk Grove and Mountain View do not have similar median incomes. Renter occupied MV median income is $74K. Elk Grove is $47K.

Median income for owner occupied households is $30K more in Mountain View.

Median income for males is Elk Grove is $18k/ year less.

If you want a disaster look at Santa Clara and most of Sunnyvale along El Camino. Dirty junky restaurants, landscaping that hasn't been pruned in 15 years other than to chainsaw it into compliance and off the sidewalks and and ugly expanse of treeless cement.

Look at Vallco- it's been a wasteland for years now. And then we have Santana Row... totally mobbed all the time, so much so that they had to close down some of the street running through the middle. Times change.

Posted by Who decided to close the shops?, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 4, 2014 at 7:45 am

"Who decided to close the shops?"

It is rarely the business owner. Lately, it has been the landlord who is not satisfied with the rent they have been receiving for decades. They want to take advantage of the economic surge and cash out. Large developers want to come in and make millions and millions of dollars. The Council and City staff have their own agendas....

So, who can afford the higher rents? Chain restaurants that serve low quality, cheap manufactured food with high markup beverages like diabetes causing soft drinks and liver damaging alcohol. There are some high quality food joints, but with high rent, must come high prices.

Posted by Palo Alto Resident, a resident of another community
on Jun 4, 2014 at 7:49 am


What you are saying about market driving changes is probably true.

However, many of these closures are due to developers forcing successful businesses to close through causing difficulties and to high rents. This has been the case in many of our local favorites closing, not that they were losing customers.

Posted by Tradeoffs, a resident of another community
on Jun 4, 2014 at 8:29 am

Sparty: Many of your comments on this website make sense. Please don't spoil that by playing statistical-spin nitpicking games to cloud a simple, accessible picture:

Both Elk Grove and MV have recent-year overall median incomes $86,000+ according to public web sites. See Web Link
(Comparable, as I wrote.) End of detail.

In contrast to incomes, the real-estate and rental prices differ consistently and radically, by upwards of 3:1. End of point.

Posted by Palo Alto Resident, a resident of another community
on Jun 5, 2014 at 12:18 pm

Another favourite closing and not through lack of customers is Happy Donuts in Palo Alto - announcement in PAWeekly today. Web Link

Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community
on Jun 5, 2014 at 1:39 pm

The whole place has suffered from changes since the 1950's, stores relocated to suburban shopping centers from downtown. Didn't Blossom Valley Shopping Centers had stores from downtown, same with San Antonio Center and Mayfield Mall. Stores have been moving to bigger and better locations, like Clarkwood Center, Mountain View Center, Bailey Park Center and etc. Stores have come and gone in a sea of changes, styles and tastes.

Elk Grove has a nice new suburban shopping mall, one of the largest in the Central Valley, we need to attract more retail but we aren't going to get any of we think 1950 or 1960's style shopping centers.

Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community
on Jun 5, 2014 at 1:45 pm

As for families dining, parents are taking their kids to more places that are healthy, and less fast food. When my parents were alive, going out to dinner with Andy's, The Echo, Old California Pizza, The Menu Tree, or Family Style Italian Dinners. Restaurants change.

Posted by So the question is, a resident of Monta Loma
on Jun 5, 2014 at 2:39 pm

Were they forced out by the govt? Or got bought out by the govt/builders? or did they not have enough customers?

Posted by Susan, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 5, 2014 at 3:14 pm

If you are upset at Burger King and Fresh Choice closing and destroying family time, you are seriously disturbed. There are countless places to eat on Castro Street - all family friendly - which are serving real food (not chemicals/additives) where I sit with my family and enjoy time together. BK & FC are not places I would ever consider taking my family. Take a hard look in the mirror and evaluate your life choices if you're upset with Sears closing down.

Posted by Smiling, nodding, easing away, a resident of Bailey Park
on Jun 5, 2014 at 3:24 pm

On one side, someone is saying they don't like the new choices, which seems whiny. On the other side, you have someone saying that another person's preference for something is somehow flawed and "Less than" since it does not go along with certain sensibilities. This comes off as elitist.
Not sure who I would want to spend less time with at a cocktail party.

Posted by Sparty, a resident of another community
on Jun 5, 2014 at 3:28 pm

Pizza My Heart has a kids' night with perks. And a kids' birthday club.

" On the other side, you have someone saying that another person's preference for something is somehow flawed and "Less than" since it does not go along with certain sensibilities. This comes off as elitist."

That requires an assertion of something being superior in the fist place.

Posted by Tradeoffs, a resident of another community
on Jun 5, 2014 at 3:56 pm

A serious issue in the original posting here is its narrow conception of what constitutes desirable, family-friendly restaurants.

I discussed this with a friend who raised three children here in the last 20 years and he was shocked. "Any Chinese or Mexican restaurant will happily make provisions for children, if you let it," he said from experience. Those categories also include some of our best local dining values in independent, locally family-owned restaurants (as was Boardwalk).

If (for some reason) you don't like, or wish to get to know, restaurants beyond chains, then that's a matter of personal taste, not something to criticize Mountain View over. To many people, a great feature of this part of the peninsula is that we AREN'T limited to the national chain restaurants that are all you see in many desolate backwater towns all over California and elsewhere in the US.

Posted by Chick Fil A, a resident of Monta Loma
on Jun 5, 2014 at 4:08 pm

We need a Chick Fil A, that's is what we need

Posted by Takes all kinds, a resident of Castro City
on Jun 5, 2014 at 5:03 pm

Ha! CFA! (Laughing :)

All kids like different things. My kids are very picky, one won't even eat pizza (Jeeze, I know, right?) but they LOVE Japanese food. No fish sushi yet, but lots of other stuff. FJ&L is always a nice time as well. Also, never underestimate the power of picking some premade stuff up @ Whole foods and going to a park for a picnic. That's a winner winner, chicken dinner right there.

Posted by CodeRed, a resident of another community
on Jun 5, 2014 at 5:32 pm

Pretty simple stuff; If you don't care for a restaurant then don't patronize it, but calling out those who do patronize those restaurants says more about YOU then it does about those you are criticizing, and what it says about you is not flattering.

Oh, if only everyone were more like me the world would be a much better place. ;)

Posted by USA, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 5, 2014 at 7:21 pm

I had the opportunity to sit with the Boardwalk founder and her family last night at the Boardwalk, watched the Giants game, listened to the DJ, drank too many glasses of wine, and thought about the last 30 years at the Boardwalk. Lot's of love. Lot's of good memories.

Posted by Ohlone Indian, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 6, 2014 at 6:53 am

Ah, the 50s to 70s in Mountain View. The time people arrived and paved paradise at an unprecedented level. The people arriving today? They're moving into something that's already paved, but the people from before somehow feel that the earlier time was better. Of course it was better. Beautiful, virgin land was cheap, so you got to pave paradise and get a great house for cheap. You didn't pay a penny for your impact on the environment or what we lost when your house was built. I'm just surprised so many people have the gall to want to turn back the clock -- always to just AFTER their house was built. I say if you want to turn back the clock, I'm with you. And I'll provide the bulldozer!

Posted by Primative Bacteria, a resident of another community
on Jun 6, 2014 at 2:10 pm

Oh please Ohlone Indian, before all you air breathers were around, thing were pretty sweet in MV. I long for the days when my family and I could sit for days in stagnant ponds, eating at all our favorite spots, like the decaying fern leaf on the west side of the pond. Once people started moving in, things changed to the point where I don't even recognize the Mountain View of days gone by.
When will the council take actions to bring back rotting foliage in ponds for MV's first residents? Seems all they care about is the new residents.

Posted by Garrett , a resident of another community
on Jun 6, 2014 at 3:03 pm

If you want to help families have family time, Park and Rec Department, keep funds and ideas flowing.

Who says landowners must cater to families. Most residents would like recreation.

When I lived in England, councils built lesiure centers.

Posted by Satisfied, a resident of Rex Manor
on Jun 6, 2014 at 3:34 pm

This is the best thread MV-Voice has had in a very long time. I'm beside myself with laughter.

Posted by Palo Alto Resident, a resident of another community
on Jun 7, 2014 at 8:43 am

And while you are at it, Mountain View, please keep the Milk Pail. Please allow shoppers to walk from one shop to another without expecting them to drive from one parking lot to another. Shared parking is the sensible way to do it.

Milk Pail has hundreds of loyal customers and does not need to be forced out by developers. And, they are healthy, family friendly food. Right?

Posted by Chick-fil-haay!!!, a resident of Jackson Park
on Jun 8, 2014 at 11:35 am

@Chick Fil A. You must be my sista from anotha mista.
I do agree with you though. Too bad the city council, literally chickened out on the plan, by insinuating that another drive thru in Mtn. View would cause massive traffic jams.

Posted by JIM G, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 8, 2014 at 4:51 pm

well all of you people that are complaining, your the ones that elected these Liberals to the City council and now you want to cry about it.

Posted by JIM G, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 8, 2014 at 4:54 pm

So why and when is the Boardwalk closing?

Posted by Garrett, a resident of another community
on Jun 9, 2014 at 8:39 am

It is important to promote, encourage activities for all person, all ages and families. Cimemas planned for phase 2, restaurants also but what free or low cost activities for families.

Youth summer programs, small city owned water slides, free music in the park, puppet theater with ice cream vendor. Summer camp at Hidden Villa, with all the growth and taxes coming down the pipe.

Youth and recreation programs.

Posted by former fan, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 9, 2014 at 9:27 am

I used to go to the boardwalk. It was an OK place with adequate food. Restaurants come and go based on consumer preferences. There are plenty of family oriented restaurants in MV. Restaurants like BW can survive longer if they own the land and don't pass on the higher opportunity cost of using the land, There are many business's like this on ECR. As soon as the land is sold for a higher price, prices go up. The same applies to the housing rental market. You can blame the landowners, but you should realize that all free lunches must eventually come to an end.

Posted by City League, a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jun 9, 2014 at 10:17 am

People tend to inflate the quality of a place once it is gone. I always found the Boardwalk to be "OK" for food, but i avoided taking my kids there
due to the beer drinking rowdiness that I always witnessed when I would go there. Not that it was some sort of out of control mayhem filled place, but the booming curse words coming from the pitcher drinking adult softball teams didn't mix well with young kids. Then there's the crowd at the bar...nuf said. It was good for families with older teens though, just not really a place for all.

Posted by Otto Maddox, a resident of Monta Loma
on Jun 9, 2014 at 2:13 pm

Not happy to hear Boardwalk is closing. I have many good memories there from high school to current day. My kids like it too. It had gotten a little expensive.. but everything has so I can't blame them.

I'm not lamenting its passing though. Things change.. stuff you think back fondly about were probably looked down up by the generations before us.

I'm sure there is some old coot sitting in his rocking chair asking "Where have all the orchards in Mountain View gone?"

He can't go back to those days anymore than we can get back Linda's Burgers, El Camino Bowling Alley and Bob's Big Boy. They're gone for good.

Posted by JIM G, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 9, 2014 at 2:23 pm

the food used to be good at the boardwalk. In the last year and a half it went down hill. The steak sandwich was very good and fries. Knowing the City they will build more expensive apartments.

Posted by Isn't this the master plan, a resident of Monta Loma
on Jun 9, 2014 at 3:03 pm

Isn't this the master plan to upgrade El camino real, the Kings highways?

I'm seeing more and more business go.

What's up with that?

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