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White Oaks Nabs Its Own Sandwich Shop

The Sandwich Spot

White Oaks residents no longer need to trek up to the north section of Laurel Avenue to grab a deli sandwich.  The Sandwich Spot just opened their doors a couple of weeks ago, giving White Oaks residents a great alternative for a quick lunch.  The Sandwich Spot features a large array of both hot and cold sandwiches, like a any good deli should.   However, they take it a step further by offering their own special spreads on some of the sandwiches (I was told the garlic spread is outstanding!) and they actually bake some of their bread right there in the deli.   The sandwich that we ordered was easily large enough to split between two people, and it was very good!

As you can see from the picture below, the Sandwich Spot shares a roof with the White Oaks Flower Shoppe, which used to occupy the entire building at 1312 Laurel Street — kitty corner to Skinny Sippin’ at Howard and Laurel.

The Sandwich Spot San Carlos


According to the owners, this “arrangement” of flowers and sandwiches is quite synergistic – so much so, that there’s a walkway that connects both businesses from the inside. Grab a sandwich, and then buy your cardiologist a bouquet of flowers?

So check out the Sandwich Spot. The sandwiches are great, and you won’t leave hungry!
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Development: It May Be a Necessity for San Carlos

Small Town Feel vs Big Time Deficit

It’s ironic…the very thing that many San Carlos residents have steadfastly resisted over the years — large scale development — may turn out to be the bootstrap that pulls this town out of its financial woes.   For many years, San Carlos has resisted any type of large residential or retail developments for fear that it would erode the “small-town feel” that makes San Carlos a unique place to live.  Certainly, it has only been in the last decade or so that big-box retailers like Best Buy and Home Depot have made any headway into San Carlos, and that’s only on the east side of El Camino.  The west side still remains largely devoid of any retail chain outlets (excluding Starbucks, of course.)

But the current financial crisis in San Carlos may force us to re-think that position.

Cut Costs, or Raise Revenue

At the risk of over-simplification, those are the only two ways to erase a budget deficit.   Let’s take a look at the former — cutting costs.  The City of San Carlos has cut its budget each of the past 11 years, and is now at a point where it has chosen to disband its own police department to save money.   A similar disintegration of our fire department is certainly right around the corner too, as soon the Belmont-San Carlos Fire JPA concludes its divorce proceeding in 2011.

But even after cannibalizing itself, the City will be lucky if it can stay in the black for any significant period of time.  Note to the City Council:  Despite your pipe dream that outsourcing public safety will be provide endless years of savings, the cost of these contracts will go up.  Count on it.  The cost of living always goes up — it never goes down.  So we may very likely be right back at the same table in a few years wondering where that $2M in police savings went.

Raise revenue?   If you’re talking about taxes, there are only two ways to raise revenue — increase the rate that you tax, or increase the gross tax dollars that you take in.   San Carlos residents have made no mystery about their opinion of higher sales tax with the defeat of Measure U, and the Fire Parcel Tax a few years back.  So if a higher tax rate isn’t the solution, the City needs to bring in more raw tax dollars.

And that’s where development comes in, whether we like it or not.

Times Have Changed

The quaint, small town model that has supported San Carlos over the past 85-ish years may not apply any longer.  And San Carlos is not alone in this quandary.  Virtually every other city on the Peninsula is facing the same reality.  Only Colma seems to enjoy a sizable budget surplus, largely because they have lots of dead people and lots of shopping malls ;-).    San Carlos won’t need to take that extreme of a measure, but look for development projects such as Wheeler Plaza, and the Transit Village to take on renewed interest with City Hall and residents alike, as the Town of San Carlos grapples to stay financially afloat in the new economy.
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“Flight Lounge” Takes Off in San Carlos.

flight_lounge_1292258675

“Flight” is the Theme.

Combining our nostalgia for air travel along with our passion for fine wines, the Flight Lounge in San Carlos has created an interesting twist on what you would expect in a traditional wine bar.  When he opened the Flight Lounge in mid-March of this year at 971 Laurel Street, general manager and San Carlos resident Taylor Brough wanted to recreate that unique sense you get in an upscale airport flight lounge — a place where you can immediately step away from the break-neck pace of the travel day, and relax with a great glass of wine (or beer).

The theme of air travel is pervasive at the Flight Lounge, from the pictures of circa-1930′s commercial airplanes that adorn the walls to the bar that’s actually shaped like an airplane wing.   And no airport lounge would be worth it’s salt without keeping you up to date on the latest in news and sports.  They have that based covered well with a number of high-definition flat-screen TV’s that show news and sports.

Wine Flights.

The flight theme doesn’t just stop with the decor.   On the wine menu, Brough has created a series of wine “flights”, which are basically samples of wines from a particular region of the world.  So if you order the South African flight, you’ll get three samples of wines that Brough hand-picked from South African vintners.  There are other wine flights that cover not only international destinations, but also wines that are made locally– even right here in San Carlos.    The idea is to mix relaxation with a little education and appreciation of wines from around the globe, and Brough has made an extra effort to feature wines that you may not find at other restaurants in the area.

Another interesting feature is that you can buy wines by the bottle at the Flight Lounge.  If you happen to take a fancy to a particular wine, or you simply don’t want to run down to Lucky’s at 11:30 at night, you can purchase a full bottle right there — and you get a 10% discount to boot.

Light Fare, Late Hours.

Much like its namesake, the Flight Lounge isn’t intended to be a full-service restaurant.  Their menu features light fare, with only one daily hot special along with other light fare like local cheeses and snacks.   But that makes for another interesting twist — not only is bringing your own food in allowed, it’s actually encouraged.   Getting take-out food delivered right to the Flight Lounge is a pretty normal occurrence, especially from their next-door neighbor Refuge!

Unlike many full service restaurants that close at 9:30-10:00 PM every night, the Flight Lounge stays open until 1:00 AM.  Clearly, the intent is to cater to adults who are looking to “get out” for the evening — consequently it’s only open to the 21-and over crowd.

Mid-Laurel Street Rebirth.

Rather than set up shop in the competitive (and pricey) northern section of Laurel Street, they decided to focus on the central section of Laurel – they now occupy the space where the old tropical fish store used to be at 971 Laurel Street, right next to Refuge.  As this part of Laurel Street continues to transform, this may turn out to be a very smart decision.  This stretch of Laurel is much closer to residents of White Oaks and Howard Park than is the northern stretch.  They already get a nice walk-in crowd from the residents at 1001 Laurel, and he sees the same thing happening with homeowners in the flatlands of San Carlos.   It offers a fun destination that’s only a short walk away.

Connect with Flight Lounge.

If you want to keep tabs on what’s happening at Flight Lounge, or what’s events are planned for the future, you can follow Flight Lounge on Twitter, or you can become of fan of their Facebook Page.   You can even check out their reviews on Yelp to see what others think about this unique place.
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Coming Soon to San Carlos: Tutti Frutti Frozen Yogurt.

Round II of the Frozen Yogurt Battle…

Trying to succeed where another large frozen yogurt chain has failed, Tutti Frutti Frozen Yogurt announced they will be opening up a store-front in San Carlos in the near future.  Unlike its predecessor Red Mango, who chose to do battle with incumbent Harmony Yogurt right on the same block, Tutti Frutti will lay claim to the north end of the downtown shopping district when they open their doors at 1148 San Carlos Avenue (site of the old Niko Lighting business).

There isn’t a publicly announced opening date, but they claim on their Facebook page that they’ll be opening in a matter of weeks.    It seems to be an excellent location, as they’re right next door to San Remo’s, and they should be able to benefit from all of the foot traffic that the north part of downtown enjoys.  According to the Facebook page, they may have a self-serve section, which will give it a little different spin from Harmony.   Should be interesting to see if two specialty yogurt stores can coexist and thrive in San Carlos!

(Thanks to blog reader Maryanne for the tip on this…)

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Lulu’s is Coming to San Carlos.

Authentic, Award Winning Mexican Cuisine.

Laurel Street will soon add another great restaurant to its impressive list of eating establishments.    Lulu’s, already an institution in Menlo Park and Palo Alto, has announced that they will open up their the third restaurant, Lulu’s on Laurel, in San Carlos sometime in early July.    Construction has already started on their new digs at 876 Laurel Street, putting them on the same block as Harmony Yogurt, Bianchini’s, and Starbucks.

Lulu’s prides themselves in providing fresh, authentic home-made Mexican food — a strategy that appears to be working well for them as they’ve won the Almanac’s Reader’s Choice Award for “Best Mexican Restaurant” two years running.  But here’s an interesting twist that many other restaurants on Laurel don’t offer– breakfast.  Lulu’s will be open daily at 8:00 AM and will serve breakfast for those who want a little kick to start their day.   The Huevos con Chorizo sounds really good right about now.

For more information on Lulu’s and a peek at their menu, visit their website … and keep your eyes open for their grand opening, which is targeted for July 1.
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Are you ready to step up to the most comprehensive data available about the San Carlos Real Estate market? Then subscribe to the White Oaks Blog for free by clicking here. Be sure to follow the White Oaks Blog on Facebook at https://Facebook.com/WhiteOaksBlog , and on Twitter @WhiteOaksBlog.
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Zest Bakery and Deli to Open Shop in San Carlos.

A Gluten-Free Bakery.

Keeping right in step with downtown San Carlos’ collection of cool and unique shops, Zest Bakery and Deli has announced plans to open their doors to the public on July 1.  According to co-manager Charissa Fleischer, Zest will feature artisanal breads (focaccia, multi-grain, french bread etc), pastries (donuts, muffins, eclairs, etc..), and desserts (cheesecake, cookies etc).  They’ll  also offer take-and-bake style pizzas as well as sandwiches made on their own freshly-baked bread.    Just typing that out makes my hungry….

What makes Zest unique is that everything they bake will be gluten-free, which gives those with Celiac Disease or other food allergies a healthy and affordable alternative for downtown dining.  And all of their baking will done on-site, which will enable them to control any cross-contamination of allergens that may occur in much larger bakeries.

The Old Harmony Yogurt Location.

Part of Zest’s business plan was to find the perfect place in downtown San Carlos to set up shop.  So when Harmony Yogurt vacated their previous digs at 1226 Arroyo Avenue,  it opened up that prime spot they were looking for — and they jumped at the opportunity.   So between now and their grand opening on July 1, Fleischer and general manager Patrick Luke will be busy transforming the old Harmony Yogurt location into their new home — hopefully maintaining some of that Harmony-magic in the process.

If you’d like to keep tabs on their progress, you can follow Zest Bakery on Twitter, or become a fan of their Facebook Page.   And come July 1, be sure to stop by and support this cool new addition to our downtown.
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Are you ready to step up to the most comprehensive data available about the San Carlos Real Estate market? Then subscribe to the White Oaks Blog for free by clicking here. Be sure to follow the White Oaks Blog on Facebook at https://Facebook.com/WhiteOaksBlog , and on Twitter @WhiteOaksBlog.
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Harmony Yogurt’s New Location is a Home Run.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about how Harmony Frozen Yogurt won the “froyo” battle in San Carlos when their main competitor Red Mango pulled up stake and left town.   Harmony seized the opportunity to take advantage of a prime vacancy on Laurel Street, and moved their business from the old location on Arroyo Avenue to Red Mango’s vacated storefront at 852 Laurel Street, right next to Bianchini’s Market.

Sometimes when a business doesn’t fly, one wonders whether it’s the business model or the location that undermined its success.  Certainly, Red Mango is wildly successful in other communities, especially those in Southern California.   So are we dealing with a jinxed location?

Nope.

I walked by Harmony’s new location one afternoon this week and saw that every seat in the place was taken, and the line was out the door.  Probably more people in the place that afternoon than Red Mango got in an entire week.    So clearly the location wasn’t the problem.  In fact, Harmony’s new home is a significant improvement from their old place — more space, more chairs and benches, and closer to my other fix (coffee.)    But really, the story behind the story is that San Carlos residents tend to support their own, and Harmony has been a very good neighbor to this town.

Speaking of which… >>> Click Here to Read the Full Post
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Are you ready to step up to the most comprehensive data available about the San Carlos Real Estate market? Then subscribe to the White Oaks Blog for free by clicking here. Be sure to follow the White Oaks Blog on Facebook at https://Facebook.com/WhiteOaksBlog , and on Twitter @WhiteOaksBlog.
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San Carlos “Hot Harvest Nights” Returns May 6.

Farmers Market in San Carlos.

Spring may have officially started on March 21st, but it doesn’t truly feel like spring here until the San Carlos Farmer’s Market, aka “Hot Harvest Nights“, gets into full swing.   And we can now consider it springtime — we had great weather this past weekend, baseball season is underway, and Hot Harvest Nights starts up again this Thursday, May 6th.   It will run every Thursday night from 4-8 PM until September 6.  Yum…

Every Thursday evening, the 700 block of Laurel Street will be closed to traffic and transformed into a vibrant marketplace featuring fresh produce, flowers,  and some great specialty food and treats.   Mix in a little live music, and it becomes an informal party.      No need to make dinner that night, with a variety of food available for just about any taste.  There’s always a line at the rosemary chicken booth, and you can bet Bianchini’s will have their barbecue blazing again in the parking lot.   Personally, I have a weakness for the tamale truck that’s always in front of Speederia Pizzeria.

Hot Harvest Nights also seems to be a great to way to bump into neighbors and friends that you haven’t seen since winter, so be sure to attend a few of them.  Bring your appetite and have some fun on a Thursday evening.  For more information, click the Chamber of Commerce website here.
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Are you ready to step up to the most comprehensive data available about the San Carlos Real Estate market? Then subscribe to the White Oaks Blog for free by clicking here. Be sure to follow the White Oaks Blog on Facebook at https://Facebook.com/WhiteOaksBlog , and on Twitter @WhiteOaksBlog.
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Hey San Carlos, What Do You Think?

Which are your favorite sushi restaurants in San Carlos? (You can vote for 2)

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