It's not clear whether Pluto's will reopen. The owners did not respond to requests for comment. The restaurant's phone line has been disconnected and its website is down.
Other locations appear to have closed at the end of 2019, including the original Pluto's in San Francisco's Marina District and one at San Jose's Santana Row. Pluto's in Chico, Sacramento, Davis and Roseville also closed in recent years, according to news articles.
The grilled tri-tip sandwich at Pluto's in Palo Alto. Photo by Veronica Weber.
Louis Kimball and Gerry Bugas opened the first Pluto's in 1995. The create-your-own salads and sandwiches model, Pluto's said, filled "a much-needed niche in the vast nothingness between fast-food and full-service restaurants."
That "vast nothingness" is now overloaded with fast-casual dining options. In Palo Alto, Pluto's competed with Sprout Cafe and Sweet Green, plus counter-service eateries like Lemonade, Curry Up Now, Onigilly and Mendocino Farms.
Pluto's was in the ground floor of the President Hotel Apartments, whose new owner plans to convert the building into a luxury hotel.
Some customers lamented the closure online.
"This is very sad. Decent, comfort food that didn't cost an arm and a leg like most everything else around here," Alina S. posted on Pluto's Yelp page. "I've been coming here for 14 years and can't believe it's gone. It was one of the last mainstays on University."