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Business & Real Estate

New stores may give downtown a new look in 2017


Asher Kohn/Town Crier
A man walks by the space ASA occupies at 242 State Street. The restaurant, operated by the proprietor of The Basin in Saratoga, is targeting a first quarter of 2017 opening.

Downtown Los Altos is expecting a boost from a host of new businesses in the new year.

An investment firm and a new child’s play company opened their doors in the waning weeks of 2016. Several restaurants and a wine-tasting room plan to start serving customers in 2017.

“I think there is a lot of excitement and curiosity about some of the spaces downtown that have been vacant but in the process of getting ready to open,” said Julie Rose, president of the Los Altos Chamber of Commerce.

Rose said there is much anticipation in the business community – not just about new businesses, but about how they will fit into the imminent downtown visioning process.

Ignition Partners held its office-warming party in late October and has already made several deals from its new space on First Street. The venture capital firm moved from Palo Alto and recently led a $20 million investment round in Accompany, a virtual personal assistant app. According to Crunchbase, Ignition Partners has raised more than $1 billion since it was founded in 2000.

Kiwi Crate moved back to Los Altos to open a shop in time for holiday gift-giving. Founded out of a Los Altos garage, the company had been renting warehouse space in Mountain View to stock its Science, Technology, Engineering and Math-focused children’s toy packages, or crates. Sandra Oh Lin began selling below the rainbow-colored facade on State Street in December.

Los Altos Research Center, a startup that aims to create a new way to securely communicate and shop, has rented a storefront at 359 State St. Company officials said they are not yet ready to open to the public, but they have begun a private beta test three months after a launch event in mid-September.

All three of these new businesses are renting space from Los Altos Community Investments (LACI). Kelly Snider, managing director of LACI, said she hoped the ventures would grow roots downtown.

“LACI loves to help new businesses move to downtown Los Altos and is thrilled when small-business owners see the potential that we see,” Snider said. “In many cases, for existing and new tenants, we offer substantially discounted rents and also offer financing on the required tenant improvement costs that the shop owner has to bear. Our hope is that by helping these young businesses with lower monthly operating costs now, they will find their own customer niche and thrive on their own terms for years to come.”

Restaurants set to serve

Several restaurants are planning first-quarter 2017 openings. Morsey’s is a new cafe focused on introducing Californians to buffalo milk. Long cherished in Italy, south Asia and the Mediterranean for its taste and low cholesterol, the buffalo milk will be processed near the Morseys’ own dairy farm in the Davis area before making its way to 134 Main St., the space previously occupied by Main Street Cafe & Books for a decade.

Byington Winery plans to open a tasting room at 366 Main St., the former site of Therapy. Showcasing wines from their vineyard in the Santa Cruz Mountains, Byington representatives hope to sell memberships as well as wines up and down the Peninsula.

Andrew Welch plans to open ASA at 242 State St., the modern steel-and-glass space which won an award this year for its Olson Kundig-designed guillotine window.

Welch aims to build off the success of The Basin, his Saratoga restaurant featuring French and Italian dishes, by focusing on sustainability and an “honest” approach.

The scaffolding is finally off Hiroshi, the new Japanese restaurant at 328 Main St., former home to Dean’s Designs. The facade’s rusted-metal sheets stand out in the “village” feel of downtown. The restaurant promises high-end Japanese cuisine.

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