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Umami Burger calls it quits in downtown Palo Alto

Uploaded: Feb 13, 2020
Umami Burger has closed after nearly seven years on University Avenue in Palo Alto.

The 452 University Ave. burger eatery "closed due lease expiration," a PR representative said. A sign in the window said the closure was effective Feb. 7.

The now-closed Umami Burger in Palo Alto. Photo by Michelle Le.

The Los Angeles-born burger chain expanded to Palo Alto in March 2013. Just five weeks after opening, Palo Alto came in as the third-highest-grossing Umami Burger location out of 14 other restaurants.

The burger competition has heated up in Palo Alto since then, with the opening of Gott's Roadside at Town & Country in 2013, Wahlburger's down the street in 2017 and Shake Shack at Stanford Shopping Center last year — not to mention the meteoric rise of the plant-based Impossible burger from Impossible Meats in Redwood City, which Umami served.

Two Umami Burgers remain in the Bay Area, in San Francisco and Oakland. A second San Francisco location closed last year. All but one New York City location also closed last year.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by not so sad, a resident of Woodside: other,
on Feb 13, 2020 at 1:43 pm

When I saw this headline, I was disappointed. Then I realized I've only ever been there twice, and that whenever I want a burger I go elsewhere. Gotts is my go-to for Impossible burgers. In-N-Out is good for a cheap burger, and Five Guys has great fries. I'm surely not the only one who hasn't been in five years, partly due to the small space, and partly due to the small servings (fries, I'm looking at you!) considering the price.

Posted by Julian Gómez, a resident of Midtown,
on Feb 13, 2020 at 2:32 pm

Julian Gómez is a registered user.

Won't miss 'em. On my first and only visit they didn't like the amount of tip so they added some more in before filing the charge.

Posted by David B. Karpf, MD, a resident of North Whisman,
on Feb 13, 2020 at 5:19 pm

David B. Karpf, MD is a registered user.

Personally, I was quite a fan of their black truffle burger, and felt that a single order of fries adequately served two people. The decor was nice, the service was good, and you could get a great beer with your truffle burger and fries (which one cannot do at In&Out). I, for one, will miss them.

Posted by J, a resident of Barron Park,
on Feb 13, 2020 at 7:47 pm

I particularly enjoyed the taste of their Cali Burger, as it offered such a wealth of flavors while maintaining the juiciness and tenderness that everyone likes in a burger. Big fan of the shoestring fries combined with their ketchup too. Sad I can't come back from school and grab their burger.

Posted by Paul, a resident of Midtown,
on Feb 14, 2020 at 9:37 am

Not surprised, people want more Keto'ish food and less bread!

Posted by JUlie armitano, a resident of Jordan Middle School,
on Feb 14, 2020 at 11:14 am

i am not surprised.
We of a lot of hamburger places in Palo AITO.

Posted by JamesE, a resident of Downtown North,
on Feb 14, 2020 at 12:39 pm

Any Chef or franchise that will not let you change something on the menu can
not stay in business. Maybe they will learn from this.

Posted by Michael, a resident of Mountain View,
on Feb 14, 2020 at 1:38 pm

It often comes down to rent, probably the #1 reason for businesses closing or moving.

Posted by resident, a resident of Downtown North,
on Feb 14, 2020 at 3:36 pm

Moderately priced restaurants downtown have always primarily relied on their weekday lunch service to office workers within walking distance. In recent years, big tech companies have been taking over the downtown office space and they serve free lunch in-house. The decrease in demand plus the soaring rents are killing lower-priced restaurants.

Posted by Based on the name alone, a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood,
on Feb 15, 2020 at 6:36 am

Enough with eh umami thing, yes, you're a hobby eater (foodie) we get it.

Posted by Local, a resident of Barron Park,
on Feb 15, 2020 at 2:57 pm

I really, really wish we would consider as a City buying up the retail areas so that retail can be affordable for everyone, small business owners and customers, again.

If the City owned the land, similarly to the way Stanford owns the land under faculty housing, it opens up so many possibilities. It would the THE ONLY way to keep stable and affordable retail downtown. An additional benefit would be that the city could lease the land for really cheap or free in exchange for leveraging businesses to pay their traditionally low-wage earners a living and competitive wage. This is ultimately better for people than subsidized housing, and it will become more and more valuable to the City over the years at no additional cost after the initial purchase. The Midtown shopping center sold not that long ago for $15million, and these things are usually financed over 30 years -- it is TOTALLY doable for us as a city and would benefit us the same way that owning all the civic spaces and school properties does -- it's just too hard to stay in business here otherwise, and we need stable small businesses and small business owners who can pay their employees good wages.

I wish I could say I ate there. The City makes it too hard to drive especially during high traffic times and it's hard for me to take other forms of transportation.

Posted by Local, a resident of Barron Park,
on Feb 15, 2020 at 3:01 pm

"Moderately priced restaurants downtown have always primarily relied on their weekday lunch service to office workers within walking distance. In recent years, big tech companies have been taking over the downtown office space and they serve free lunch in-house. The decrease in demand plus the soaring rents are killing lower-priced restaurants."

Not "always" -- just since it's become impossible for residents to get around in their own town. We used to go to University all the time for lunch and dinner, and it had a community feel to it. Now it just feels like the soulless office park that the likes of Palantir have been allowed to turn it into.

Posted by Express, a resident of Evergreen Park,
on Feb 15, 2020 at 6:59 pm

Local-- just came from downtown Palo Alto-- place was bustling. People walking around, sitting in the open area near the pizza place. People waiting to get into restaurants etc etc etc. So clearly not a "soulless office park".
But the "soulless office park" is terms that people use who either enjoy bashing Palantir or miss the fact that Liddicoats shut down decades ago.

Posted by Nancy, a resident of Old Palo Alto,
on Feb 15, 2020 at 8:44 pm

With minimum wage at $15.00+ hr, which means paying $17-$18 an hr if you can find someone. With payroll taxes and worker comp. A restaurant is paying $20+ hr for an entry position. Managers starting at $20, comes to $24 hr.









Look at all the restaurants that have closed only on University ave the last year.
Greek place, corner of High.
Roundtable Pizza
Cheesecake Factory
Epi Cafe
Pete's Coffee

Posted by Mark Weiss, a resident of Downtown North,
on Feb 18, 2020 at 11:54 am

Mark Weiss is a registered user.

I'd like to get the lease on that place and serve upscale burgers and sausages where all the items are tributes to dead Palo Alto poets like Robert Hunter and Lew Welch. I'd call it Beat The Meat.

Posted by Jorge, a resident of Midtown,
on Apr 24, 2020 at 5:42 pm

I was a server there and they didn't pay you like the comment I read. I was paid 13 hourly. Not many hours to work. To be able to put in 8 hours that's if it was busy and allowed by the supervisors which mainly they took those hours one would work close 2-4 hours the most per shift in my position. After tips I was around average saying 17.

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