Photo By: Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
General manager Richard Kuhlman of Marie Callender’s Restaurant & Bakery has a simple message for residents looking for a place to eat: We’re still here.
Kuhlman, a partner in the independently owned restaurant at 4710 El Camino Real, said his business has hit rough times recently.
The dip in business coincides with news of a 5-acre, mixed-use development that includes the former Los Altos Garden Supply winding its way through the city’s approval process.
Project plans, in part, call for the eventual redevelopment of the land where the restaurant currently sits as well.
Coupled with news of the eatery’s parent company – Perkins & Marie Callender’s Inc. – filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last year and the closure of more than 50 Marie Callender’s restaurants nationally, manager Mark Wagner said the confluence of events has negatively impacted the local restaurant.
“Everybody thinks we’re closed – and our sales are showing it,” Wagner said.
According to Kuhlman, the restaurant previously averaged 250-300 customers each day, with an average sale between $10 and $16 per customer.
These days, he added, the restaurant serves approximately 180-200 customers daily. It also receives 10-20 calls per day from customers inquiring whether its doors are still open.
Kuhlman and his business partners took ownership of the restaurant in 2005. He said Marie Callender’s has been a favorite dining place for numerous local customers for more than 30 years. The recent negative trend in sales is something the business hasn’t experienced before.
“We want people to know that we’re still here and we will be for a while,” he said, adding that the vast majority of his employees live in the Mountain View and Los Altos communities.
Although the business will eventually need to be relocated, Kuhlman said any talk of its closure is premature. The restaurant plans to stay at its current location through the end of this year.
At the same time, Kuhlman is searching for a new location in Mountain View or Los Altos, including along El Camino Real, so that longtime customers won’t have to go far to pick up a pie or sit down for a meal at the restaurant.
“Nothing is set yet, but we’re actively looking,” he said. “After this store closes, there will be a Marie Callender’s (location) to go to for our customers.”
Kuhlman added he’s making every effort to ensure that there is no downtime during the restaurant’s move to a new location next year. He also plans to inform customers in advance when and where the new location will be.
“It’s an adjustment,” Kuhlman said. “But we’ll have a new location to move to, and hopefully our customers will follow. That’s our primary focus.”
For more information, visit www.mariecallenders.com.