Menlo Park: BBC renovation gets unanimous approval

Some may have understandably thought this day would never come: the Menlo Park Planning Commission voiced unanimous approval for a major project in about 30 minutes.

The project, restaurateur Rob Fischer's remake of the historic BBC at 1090 El Camino Real, has raised the bar "really high" in terms of what the commission's looking for, according to chair John Kadvany.

"It shows you how quickly projects can get through Menlo Park when the applicant does such a great job of designing the project," Mr. Kadvany noted during the Feb. 10 meeting.

Mr. Fischer plans to open a three-floor restaurant, including a rooftop deck and outdoor dining on the ground floor, that will preserve the historic exterior brick architecture of the city landmark apart from moving the entrance to Santa Cruz Avenue and adding an exterior staircase. Parking will be provided via the 275-space underground garage shared with other Menlo Center businesses.

But Mr. Fischer will not preserve one aspect of the BBC's history --- its reputation as a rowdy, late-night hotspot for trouble.

"We're a very solid company," he told the commission. "... a kind of a no-nonsense company. I won't put up with what they did before at the BBC. That's totally unacceptable to me... I can't even fathom doing what someone did in that restaurant, it's appalling."

Mr. Fischer's reputation preceded him and appeared to ease the path toward project approval, as the commissioners as well as public supporters pointed out his success with the Palo Alto Creamery, Reposado and, in Mountain View, Gravity and Scratch.

What he hopes to bring to Menlo Park, he said, is a one-of-a-kind restaurant people will be proud to go to.

Although the restaurant would be open seven days a week from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m., with on-site alcohol sales and background music, Mr. Fischer said he "can't stress enough that noise in our operations isn't a factor."

He has turned down requests to bring live music to his other restaurants, he said, and has no plans to change that policy.

Members of the public, including councilmen Peter Ohtaki and Ray Mueller and Chamber of Commerce CEO Fran Dehn told the commission they couldn't wait to see the new restaurant open.

The commissioners followed suit before voting 6-0, with Henry Riggs absent, to approve the plans.

"Our nickname of 'Menlo Dark' is sometimes well deserved," Commissioner Katie Ferrick quipped. "I appreciate you being willing to take a chance on turning the lights on."


Like this comment
Posted by EE
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Feb 12, 2014 at 12:18 pm

Great news! One small (but much appreciated) step for Menlo Park, one giant step toward removing the urban blight that has left El Camino looking like a South Bronx death zone. Many thanks to the Planning Commission for setting a high bar, and then for giving rapid approval once the threshold was met.

Like this comment
Posted by CB
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Feb 12, 2014 at 1:56 pm

Bravo! A big thank you to the Planning Commission. We need more night life in Menlo Park. Hopefully something can be done across the street, as Su Hong & The Menlo Hub are both well as the other vacant lots in Menlo Park along the El Camino.

Like this comment
Posted by Menlo dad
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Feb 14, 2014 at 1:48 pm

Now we need the menlo park legends semi-pro baseball team to revive flood park!

Like this comment
Posted by BBC Future customer
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jun 11, 2014 at 3:49 pm

Looking forward to the BBC re-opening. Any idea of what the timeline is? I have lots of fellow co-workers in the area who really want a new place to go after work but we haven't seen any renovation activity at the site. Any news on this front?

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