Eight things to know about Menlo Park’s ambitious new development.
In a location that once housed a Shell gas station, the swanky Park James Hotel now commands the corner of Valparaiso Road and El Camino Real in Menlo Park. It’s a new and high-profile development that aims to serve Silicon Valley business travelers while also offering spaces for local residents to gather.
Developed by local father/son duo Jim and Jeff Pollock, the Park James was designed with detailed aesthetics and hopes of a low-key atmosphere.
In a chat with General Manager Weston Spiegl, we learned some pretty cool things about this place. If you’ve been driving by and wanted to take a look inside, here’s a quick glimpse.
1 — What is the origin of the moniker Park James?
Named after Dennis “James” Oliver, an Irish immigrant and co-founder of Menlo Park, as well as James Pollock, head of the hotel’s development company in Portola Valley. “We consider the Park James [to be] Menlo Park’s hotel, locally developed and owned. It was extremely important to be aligned with the community and thus the nod to its history and co-founder James Oliver. It just happened to work out that we could also honor the great man that is James Pollock.”
2—Who were the hotel designers and how were they chosen?
Parisa O’Connell and Clinton Miller of Parisa O’Connell Interior Design came recommended by hotel architect Mark Hornberger, of Hornberger Worstell. The mandate was to create a property that was communal for the local residents and not just the hotel guests. With an expansive outdoor courtyard and an additional patio area off the onsite Oak + Violet restaurant featuring heaters, comfy seating and a massive gas fireplace wall, the property feels very welcoming.
3 — Whose idea was it to use cowhide on the walls of the restaurant?
Parisa O’Connell can be credited with the use of dyed cowhide, stitched into beautiful patterns that reflect the property’s color scheme, which includes lime green and violet. And it’s not limited to cows, as there is a stunning photo of a beautiful white horse, framed by a backdrop of grey-dyed cowhide, rather shrine-like, at the entrance to the elevator.
4 — What is the origin of the lobby saying, “No Strangers Here, Only New Friends?”
Jeff Pollock, VP of Pollock Financial, stumbled upon the quote of William Butler Yeats, “There are no strangers here, only friends you haven’t met.” We liked the message, however, wanted to shorten it a bit.
5—There are inscriptions on each floor as you step off the elevator.
Parisa and Clint, along with GM Weston Spiegl, developed the Silicon Valley-appropriate sayings that include: “Doing the Impossible Is Fun,” “Part Genius Part Crazy,” and “Live A Great Story.” Inspiring thoughts etched in marble that plant a seed in your brain.
6—You have an unusual in-room coffee system. How did this come about?
“I cannot stand what has become acceptable for in-room coffee and had a desire to provide the absolute best in-room coffee experience at the Park James. I met with approximately 10 local (San Francisco) craft coffee roasters and had fantastic interest in a partnership from everybody. Hoteliers told me I was crazy as it was going to be too hard, the coffee community told me I was going to revolutionize the in-room coffee experience. Of all the roasters I met with, Ritual (Coffee Roaster)’s passion and desire to partner with us was second to none. We went with Fellow [coffee systems] to further support and feature a local supplier and the guest reaction has been fantastic.”
7—What’s in the Park James mini-bars? It sure doesn’t look like your typical set.
This is just one aspect of the bespoke aspect of the hotel. The objective is to treat people as individuals and customize their stay in any way possible. Bars are stocked with the following, and can be tweaked to guest preferences:
• Whistle Pig 10yr
• Absolut Elyx Vodka
• Avion Reposado Tequila
• Hall Cabernet Sauvignon
• Patz & Hall, Dutton Ranch, Chardonnay
• Perrier Jouet Champagne
• Bear Republic, Racer 5 IPA
• Discretion Brewery, Ten Million Flowers Kolsch
8—What are the signature dishes and cocktails of Oak + Violet, the hotel’s restaurant and bar?
The Southside is the most visually striking of the cocktails, with its pure violet hue, but you can’t go wrong with a Pisco sour. Reed Woogerd is the inspiration behind the craft cocktails, completely fresh and uniquely crafted with house-made infusions. When you watch the bartenders doing their thing with their copper utensils, you get a sense this is a really special experience. One sip and the freshness explodes in your mouth. As for signature dishes, Chef Michael Gadd nails it with the crispy Brussels sprouts with balsamic glaze, fried onions and hazelnuts: it definitely sets a new Brussels benchmark. Staff lunch favorites include the enormous lobster roll and the crab club. Both lunch and dinner menus feature olive oil-poached salmon with roasted sunchokes and quinoa and toasted farro “risotto” with baby spinach and butternut squash. Dinner brings stuffed Wagyu steak tartare, whole branzino and pan-seared bone-in filet.
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