The downtown building that formerly served as a stop along the Southern Pacific Railroad – among several other uses throughout the years – is now a bakery cafe.
Voyageur du Temps (“Time Traveler” in French) opened its doors March 15 after nearly a year of “extremely painstaking” construction on the former train depot at 288 First St., according to owner Rie Rubin. She said the finished product – a French-style bakery and cafe – as well as its name is a tribute to past and modern times locally. Overall, Rubin noted, the project to renovate the 1913 Craftsman-style structure took approximately two years to complete “from conception to birth.”
“This is an ode to the Silicon Valley community and its history,” Rubin said of the building, which in the past was a pizza parlor, restaurant, bank and antique retail store after serving as a train stop into the 1950s.
Rubin said she incorporated old redwood panels from Moffett Field’s Hangar One, using them as wall siding along the cafe’s indoor seating area as part of the redesign. Construction crews, she added, discovered the depot’s original “Los Altos” sign – which faced what is now Foothill Expressway. It now hangs over the business entryway fronting First Street.
An original loading-dock door previously used to transfer goods from trains to horse-drawn buggies, meanwhile, now adorns the building’s facade. Other preservation and repurposing efforts included turning salvaged wood from the depot’s former train platform into bench seating for customers.
Rubin noted that her preservation efforts aren’t limited to the building itself. She said her business, at least in part, is her personal quest for the “perfect croissant.” She added that bakery staff is trained to use traditional Parisian-style methods to create made-from-scratch breads and pastries.
“If you hear ‘homemade’ these days, it’s usually shaped and then frozen,” she said. “But going back to older days, things were simpler and more delicious because we didn’t shortcut anything. … Sometimes simpler is just better.”
Rubin said her bakery cafe is currently operating on limited hours – and serving a limited menu – as she adds additional staff. Voyageur du Temps will eventually open daily from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., offering coffee drinks and light breakfast and lunch menus.
For more information, visit voyageur.com.
Voyageur du Temps opens at old train depot - Photos by Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier