New life eyed for the historic Nut House building | News


Even before the Antonio’s Nut House making on California Avenue turned synonymous with pints, peanut shells, margaritas, techies and regulars soaking up the dive-bar encounter, it distinguished alone as a heart of innovation.

Crafted in 1938, the construction served for 12 several years as a Safeway grocery shop and stood out in its early times as a prototype of a drive-via “supermarket,” distinguished by being greater than existing foods stores. Safeway Grocers described its new California Avenue retail outlet in the late 1930s as “just one of the most present day and easy markets on the Peninsula,” according to a historic evaluate executed in 2000 by the state Office of Parks and Recreation (The novelty apparently wore off by 1950, when Safeway referred to it as a regular “sector” in adverts to new entrepreneurs).

These days, the constructing at 321 California Ave. remains vacant. The homeowners of the Nut Household shut down the common bar and restaurant in August 2020, adhering to longtime proprietor Tony Montooth’s loss of life in 2017. Now, the property’s new operator is making ready to rehabilitate the building, and Palo Alto leaders are hoping to make certain that its historical importance continues to be intact.

The city’s Historic Methods Board enthusiastically endorsed previous 7 days the program by Storm Land LLC, to demolish the concrete addition at the rear of the setting up and construct a new dining pavilion and courtyard in entrance of the restaurant’s Birch Road entrance, an location that has traditionally been utilized for parking. The board also agreed through its May possibly 26 review that the operator must understand the building’s historic importance as an early supermarket by placing up a plaque or some other type of marker.

The rehabilitated developing is unlikely to keep the divey, dimly lit and defiantly unpretentious ambiance that endeared the Nut Home to its patrons. The rear portion of the developing that was as soon as a card room and, a lot more recently, a poolroom would be demolished. Additions would involve a private eating room and an outdoor courtyard connected to a bar spot.

Architect Ken Hayes told the board that the design staff sought to get the job done in a “complementary fashionable style which is deferential and distinctive from the historic creating.” The new cafe would retain some of the defining capabilities of the existing structure: its rectangular flooring strategy, just one-story massing, stucco cladding, ceramic tiles along the storefront wall and submit-and-beam building.

Parking would be moved to the rear of the setting up so that the out of doors dining place could occupy the entrance.

“The strategy in this article is to restore the initial rectangular plan for the creating by demolishing the rear addition and turning that into parking in the rear,” Hayes told the board. “We will repurpose where the parking is now on the corner for the new pavilion addition and the courtyard, produce porous edges amongst the existing constructing and that courtyard to enable men and women to see in and out and circulate.”

In examining the task, board users praised the proposed changes to the constructing and the web-site layout. They also urged the applicant to make certain they leave guiding some sort of a marker connoting the building’s initial perform. A evaluate by the city’s consulting business, Web page & Turnbull, concluded that the developing is qualified for inclusion on the National Registry of Historic Places, even although it had not been formally added to the registry. That’s mainly because the making represents a “extraordinary shift” in grocery retailing to accommodate an “ever more car-dependent modern society,” in accordance to the Page & Turnbull overview.

In addition to its purpose, the making is major from an architectural standpoint for the reason that it represents an early example of a supermarket, according to the overview.

“This developing is a scarce illustration of a after widespread sort, a grocery store, to keep its unique character,” a report from organizing team states.

Provided its status, board member Michael Makinen urged the applicant to include a plaque or one more marker that commemorates this historic function.

“It can be inconceivable anyone is likely to identify this building for what it is just after the work is performed on improving it for present day use,” Makinen mentioned.

His colleagues strongly agreed. Board member Margaret Wimmer lauded Hayes for blending the building’s historic attributes with present day design aspects and for relocating parking to the rear of the assets, letting for backyard room on a corner that has typically been utilised for autos.

“It really is wonderful searching. It can be nonetheless a terrific nod to the current period of the creating. … It is likely to be a excellent improvement to that corner,” Wimmer mentioned.

Board Chair Carolyn Willis identified as Hayes’ proposed style a “beautiful answer for California Avenue.”

“I assume it is really benefiting both equally from the historic and the new,” Willis stated. “It really is a wonderful tale.”

She analogized the proposed enhancement to the MacArthur Park cafe around the downtown Palo Alto Caltrain station, a historic developing that was used for recreation all through Environment War I by troops teaching at Camp Fremont in Menlo Park. Visitors, she pointed out, can go into the restaurant and seem at photos that depict the building’s crucial historic job.

“I think our kids are viewing record fly by so fast that it is really good to don’t forget that not that extensive in the past you didn’t go to Safeway and acquire your groceries,” Willis claimed. “It is somewhat new in the heritage of the planet that supermarkets exist. It is really awesome to see the progression of how this took place.”


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