All you knead is loaf: Le Boulanger owners step back from business, step forward toward time together

Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Le Boulanger’s owners are selling their retail and wholesale divisions. Posh Bakery will run the nine Le Boulanger cafes, including the Los Altos eatery at 301 Main St., above.

For four decades, the Brunello family has balanced the three-tier operation that is Le Boulanger. This decade will look different as they maintain the catering division of the company but sell the retail and wholesale divisions.

Jeffrey Ottoveggio’s Posh Bakery will run the nine Le Boulanger cafes – including the Los Altos eatery at 301 Main St. – with the same branding, products and service patrons are familiar with, Le Boulanger CEO Dan Brunello told the Town Crier.

Exploring the nuances of accessory dwelling units


With the limited availability of affordable housing, there has been much discussion about accessory dwelling units. Examples of ADUs include a pool house, a granny unit and an in-law unit – typically a small house/cottage homeowners build in their backyard.

Transactions for the week of Jan. 22

Los Altos

1005 Border Road, Hennessee Trust to Y. & J. Zhou for $2,708,000

1 W. Edith Avenue Unit C215, Webb Trust to Q. Rhee for $1,000,000

Changes to come

Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier

Baking the world a better place: Local resident opens gluten-free Sweet Diplomacy after long wait

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Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Sweet Diplomacy owner Melody Hu arranges some of her gluten-free confections on a tray Friday afternoon. Hu’s shop recently opened at 209 First St. in Los Altos.

Six months after Mountain View resident Melody Hu planned to open the doors of her gluten-free patisserie Sweet Diplomacy in downtown Los Altos, she finally celebrated her shop’s soft opening and is refining and customizing her shop’s aesthetic.

Nest Egg Briefs: Understanding the new SECURE Act’s impact

The U.S. Congress and President Donald Trump recently passed the bipartisan Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act as part of another spending bill needed to keep the federal government operating for a few more months. The SECURE Act represents one of the biggest changes to retirement planning since 2010, and though there are some negative elements, on balance it has the potential to improve taxpayers’ ability to save for retirement. Following is a brief summary.

Annuities are now allowed in 401(k) plans. If the insurance industry – which lobbied hard for this feature – limits offerings to basic deferred income or single premium immediate annuities, this would be a beneficial change. However, if they instead start flooding 401(k) plans with all kinds of expensive and difficult-to-understand annuity variants and promote them as solutions to every possible retirement need (as has occurred in the nonqualified marketplace), plan participants could easily be misled and end up making bad savings choices. And the new law exempts plan administrators from the fiduciary requirement of performing due diligence on such offerings before including them in a company’s 401(k), further adding to the potential risks.

Inherited IRA and Roth accounts become more limited. The so-called stretch provision – which allows heirs to stretch withdrawals over their lifetime to allow the accounts to continue to grow tax-deferred (with IRAs) or tax-free (with Roths) – is now limited to only 10 years. The yearly withdrawal amount is left up to the account owner as long as the account is emptied by year 10. Accounts that were inherited prior to 2020 will still retain their current stretch provision, as will accounts for certain types of beneficiaries such as surviving spouses, minor children, beneficiaries no more than 10 years younger than the deceased and the disabled.

Required minimum distributions (RMD) are delayed. Instead of RMDs beginning in or just after the year you turn age 70 1/2, you can now wait until age 72 before having to make withdrawals from your IRA or 401(k) plan. This is good for everyone in that it allows such retirement accounts to continue to grow tax-deferred for an extra year or two. Unfortunately, those reaching age 70 1/2 by 2020 will have to follow the old rules.

Multiple employer plans (MEP) are easier to set up. Previously, companies could not jointly create an MEP such as a 401(k) unless they had some kind of organizational relationship such as membership in a common trade group. The new law eliminates this requirement, allowing totally unrelated businesses to band together to gain scope and economies of scale in creating retirement plans for their employees. Furthermore, the business tax credit for establishing retirement plans will be increased. These are real benefits for small businesses.

There are also some miscellaneous benefits that are not directly related to retirement. 529 Education Savings Plans can now be used to pay down up to $10,000 of student debt, which previously had not been a qualified expense. In addition, apprenticeship programs registered with the Department of Labor will now qualify for 529 funding.

The SECURE Act also undoes some provisions of the 2017 Tax Cuts & Jobs Act, such as reducing the medical expense deduction threshold back to 7.5% of adjusted gross income and reverting the “Kiddie Tax” rate (the rate children pay on earnings) from trust tax rates back to their parents’ top marginal rate.

As with any major legislation, there will inevitably be unintended consequences requiring followup changes over the next few years. On balance, I view this new law as positive for retirement savers as long as there are sufficient protections put in place to ensure that the new 401(k) annuities are appropriately positioned and reasonably priced.

Los Altos resident Artie Green is a Certified Financial Planner and principal at Cognizant Wealth Advisors. For more information, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit

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