Local favorite closes, citing fallout from COVID shutdown
The owners of Mayfield Bakery & Cafe in Palo Alto, unable to sustain the business due to the coronavirus shutdown, have closed the Town & Country Village restaurant for good.
“Like many restaurants throughout the area and across the country, the impact of the COVID-19 virus and the subsequent shelter-in-place orders have reduced revenues to an unsustainable level,” Tim Stannard, founding partner of Bacchus Management Group, which owns Mayfield, said in a statement. “I would like to share a heartfelt thank you to all of our team members, as well as our loyal guests, for 11 wonderful years.”
Signs announcing the closure appeared in the restaurant’s windows this week. On Tuesday afternoon, Mayfield’s dining room sat empty while a man filled a moving truck with carts of baking trays and other items from the next-door bakery.
Bacchus Management Group, which also owns The Village Pub and The Village Bakery in Woodside and Selby’s in Redwood City, opened Mayfield in 2009. The restaurant was known for both its farm-to-table fare and the bakery’s fresh-baked bread, pastries and desserts.
Mayfield temporarily closed after the Bay Area’s shelter-in-place order took effect but soon became a pickup location for Bacchus Management’s “family meals” program, ready-to-eat takeout meals whose proceeds went to support the restaurant group’s employees. Mayfield later offered its own menu for takeout and delivery and reopened for outdoor dining in June.
Jim Ellis of Ellis Partners, which owns Town & Country, said Bacchus Management communicated to him that the cost of doing business in Palo Alto — including utility rates, minimum wage and labor requirements — compounded by the shutdown and ongoing lack of indoor dining made it impossible for the full-service restaurant to stay open. He said they were not currently paying rent on the 5,300-square-foot space and were in discussions to extend rent abatement.
“We were informed that that just wouldn’t solve the problem for them. Not having to pay rent basically didn’t close the gap enough for them to justify continuing the operation,” Ellis said.
He described the closure as a “huge loss” for the shopping center.
“In this particular tenant’s closure, it’s a painful realization of the longer lasting impacts of COVID on retail,” Ellis said.
Stannard said in late April that the path to recovery would be rocky for Mayfield in particular given the high cost of running a restaurant in Palo Alto.
“If the environment is a 50% reduction in capacity, it’s difficult for me to see a pathway in a town like Palo Alto given all the other challenges that Palo Alto puts in the way of small businesses,” he said at the time. “It’s very difficult for me to see that restaurant coming back.”
Ellis said Town & Country has provided rent “relief” to the majority of its tenants, including coming to dozens of rent abatement or deferral agreements. The shopping center also helped Town & Country Village restaurants build parklets “at our own cost,” Ellis said, to expand their outdoor dining areas.
At least nine out of the center’s 59 retailers — or about 15% — are vacant or have “for lease” signs hanging in the window, though some closed pre-pandemic, according to Traci Markel, Town & Country Village’s marketing director.
Ellis said he hopes the space will be occupied by another restaurant and bakery but is “fearful” about how long it will take to find an operator willing and able to afford the prominent corner space with a large indoor dining room.
Ellis urged local residents to make a concerted effort to eat and shop local.
“To be completely honest, I think that the communities all over the Bay Area are really going to have to make a conscious effort to give their local businesses business,” he said. “They need the community support and the customer support to survive this period.”
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