Business & Real Estate

Last call for Maltby's Public House?: Longtime downtown restaurant unlikely to renew its lease

Town Crier File Photo
James Maltby, left, faces the likely closure of his 17-year-old downtown establishment, Maltby’s Public House, in January.

A longtime downtown Los Altos establishment may be in its final days of existence.

Maltby’s Public House owner James Maltby told the Town Crier that he will likely close his 17-year-old restaurant at 101 Plaza North after he couldn’t come to terms on a new lease agreement with his landlord last week. Maltby noted that a new lease agreement would have included a significant increase in his monthly rent payment. Maltby said he’s currently paying just shy of $11,000 per month, which he called “already a stretch.”

“It’s going up more than I can afford,” said Maltby, who started his career in hospitality and restaurant management working at the Hard Rock Cafe in London before moving to the United States in the mid-1980s. “The landlord and I are a long ways apart.”

Maltby said that barring a last-minute change, he’ll likely close his downtown establishment sometime in January, though no final date was established by the Town Crier’s press deadline. With a son in college and a daughter set to graduate from high school later this year, Maltby said he and his wife, Katy, may need to relocate as a result of the restaurant’s likely closure.

“The reality is that we’re probably going to have to move out of the area,” said Maltby, a Sunnyvale resident. “We all know how expensive it is to live in the area.”

Palo Alto resident Linda Hollister, a weekly Maltby’s customer for more than 15 years, said she was sad – but not surprised – to learn of Maltby’s pending future. A realtor for more than 30 years, Hollister said an improved local economy typically means higher rent, regardless of longevity or tradition.

“It’s really sad. … Where are we going to go now?” asked Hollister.

Hollister added that she frequented Maltby’s because it offered a laid-back, personable atmosphere where customers could bring their families or enjoy a quiet conversation with a friend.

“It’s a very warm, safe and friendly place,” said Hollister, who added that she often takes out-of-town guests to Maltby’s because of its menu and personable service. “Everyone kind of knows everyone here. It’s just that hometown place – kind of like Cheers.”

Maltby, meanwhile, conceded that he’s experienced a range of emotions while facing the possibility of closing a business that ended up matching his vision when he opened his establishment nearly two decades ago.

“I built exactly what I wanted to build,” said Maltby, who added that the closure would also impact employees that have worked for him for more than a decade. “We’ve been serving good food at a fair price for as long as we’ve been here.”

He added that he’s thankful for the friends he’s made and the opportunities the business provided for his family.

“It’s given my kids a great education,” Maltby said. “There’s no doubt I have that to be thankful for … and I’ve made so many friends from this place – you just can’t put a price on that.”

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