Even earlier than the Antonio’s Nut Home constructing on California Avenue grew to become synonymous with pints, peanut shells, margaritas, techies and regulars absorbing the dive-bar expertise, it distinguished itself as a middle of innovation.
In-built 1938, the construction served for 12 years as a Safeway grocery retailer and stood out in its early days as a prototype of a drive-thru “grocery store,” distinguished by being bigger than present meals shops. Safeway Grocers described its new California Avenue retailer within the late Nineteen Thirties as “probably the most trendy and handy markets on the Peninsula,” in accordance with a historic evaluation carried out in 2000 by the state Division of Parks and Recreation (The novelty apparently wore off by 1950, when Safeway referred to it as a daily “market” in ads to new homeowners).
Immediately, the constructing at 321 California Ave. stays vacant, with the homeowners of the Nut Home shutting down the favored bar and restaurant in August 2020. Now, with the property’s new proprietor making ready to rehabilitate the constructing, Palo Alto officers are attempting to make sure that its historic significance stays intact.
Town’s Historic Sources Board enthusiastically endorsed final week the plan by Storm Land LLC, to demolish the concrete addition on the rear of the constructing and assemble a brand new eating pavilion and courtyard in entrance of the restaurant’s Birch Road entrance, an space that has historically been used for parking. The board additionally agreed throughout its Might 26 evaluation that the proprietor ought to acknowledge the constructing’s historic significance as an early grocery store by placing up a plaque or another type of marker.
The rehabilitated constructing is unlikely to retain the divey, dimly lit and defiantly unpretentious ambiance that endeared the Nut Home to its patrons. The rear portion of the constructing that was as soon as a card room and, extra lately, a poolroom can be demolished. Additions would come with a non-public eating room and an outside courtyard linked to a bar space.
Architect Ken Hayes instructed the board that the design staff sought to work in a “complementary trendy fashion that is deferential and distinct from the historic constructing.” The brand new restaurant would retain among the defining options of the present construction: its rectangular flooring plan, one-story massing, stucco cladding, ceramic tiles alongside the storefront wall and post-and-beam building.
Parking can be moved to the rear of the constructing in order that the outside eating space may occupy the entrance.
“The concept right here is to revive the unique rectangular plan for the constructing by demolishing the rear addition and turning that into parking within the rear,” Hayes instructed the board. “We are going to repurpose the place the parking is now on the nook for the brand new pavilion addition and the courtyard, create porous edges between the present constructing and that courtyard to permit individuals to see out and in and flow into.”
In reviewing the venture, board members praised the proposed adjustments to the constructing and the location format. Additionally they urged the applicant to ensure they depart behind some sort of a marker connoting the constructing’s unique operate. A evaluation by the town’s consulting agency, Web page & Turnbull, concluded that the constructing is eligible for inclusion on the Nationwide Registry of Historic Locations, though it had not been formally added to the registry. That is as a result of the constructing represents a “dramatic shift” in grocery retailing to accommodate an “more and more automobile-based society,” in accordance with the Web page & Turnbull evaluation.
Along with its operate, the constructing is critical from an architectural perspective as a result of it represents an early instance of a grocery store, in accordance with the evaluation.
“This constructing is a uncommon instance of a as soon as frequent kind, a grocery store, to retain its unique character,” a report from planning workers states.
Given its standing, board member Michael Makinen urged the applicant to incorporate a plaque or one other marker that commemorates this historic operate.
“It is inconceivable anybody goes to acknowledge this constructing for what it’s after the work is completed on enhancing it for contemporary use,” Makinen stated.
His colleagues strongly agreed. Board member Margaret Wimmer lauded Hayes for mixing the constructing’s historic options with trendy design components and for transferring parking to the rear of the property, permitting for backyard area on a nook that has historically been used for vehicles.
“It is nice trying. It is nonetheless an excellent nod to the present period of the constructing. … It is going to be an excellent enchancment to that nook,” Wimmer stated.
Board Chair Carolyn Willis referred to as Hayes’ proposed design a “beautiful resolution for California Avenue.”
“I feel it is benefiting each from the historic and the brand new,” Willis stated. “It is an excellent story.”
She analogized the proposed growth to the MacArthur Park restaurant close to the downtown Palo Alto Caltrain station, a historic constructing that was used for recreation throughout World Struggle I by troops coaching at Camp Fremont in Menlo Park. Guests, she famous, can go into the restaurant and take a look at photographs that depict the constructing’s necessary historic function.
“I feel our youngsters are seeing historical past fly by so quick that it is good to keep in mind that not that way back you did not go to Safeway and purchase your groceries,” Willis stated. “It is comparatively new within the historical past of the world that supermarkets exist. It is good to see the development of how this occurred.”