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“The Office” Comes to San Carlos.

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…Not the TV Series.

Not to be outdone by the trendy northern section of San Carlos, White Oaks has scored another home run of a dining establishment: The Office.   Longtime San Carlos residents and real estate partners Dave Parks and Steve Hicks of Gateway Properties have been kicking around ideas on how best to utilize the extra space at their realty office at 1748 El Camino Real — why not do a restaurant?  After all, this very address used to be home to the very popular San Carlos mainstay Paul Joes restaurant, and according to Dave and Steve, it has been a watering hole of some sort ever since San Carlos was incorporated.

Keeping it Simple.

In deciding what kind of fare to offer and what level of service to provide, they wisely chose to keep it simple.    Rather than hassle with complexities of table service, you simply order your food at the counter, and grab a seat.   They’ll bring it out to you when it’s ready.   And the menu looks to be spot-on: Burgers, sandwiches, salads, and a few other choice specialties.  And most important?  It’s very affordable.  The vast majority of their menu is under $10, and the most expensive menu item is only $12.   They are clearly targeting the San Carlos family dining crowd, and they appear to have nailed it.

Great Amenities, Location.

They did an outstanding job designing this restaurant.  There’s a huge patio area in front for outdoor dining, complete with three separate fire pits for those warm San Carlos summer nights.  Inside, there are additional tables with and a full bar with multiple flat-screen TV’s.   Can’t sit still?  There’s even a “beer-friendly” bocce ball court on the side alley.    It’s a clean, classy place that’s perfect for White Oaks families who want a great, affordable dining experience that’s within walking distance from their home.

The Office, San Carlos

The Office, San Carlos

Open Now.

Although they haven’t had an official grand opening yet, they’ve been open on a “soft-open” basis for a week or so just to work out the kinks that every new restaurant faces.  Smart move, because I think the newest addition to White Oaks will be a smashing success.  So be sure to check it out this weekend!
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Welcome to to the White Oaks Blog — the most widely read blog dedicated to the San Carlos real estate market! Have blog updates sent to you automatically by subscribing 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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Dollar Tree Opens Its Doors in San Carlos.

Grand Opening.

Just a few short months after getting the conditional-use permit approved by the City of San Carlos, the Dollar Tree store that stands where Hollywood Video once did opened their doors to the public today.   This store is so new that their corporate website doesn’t even show it yet.  Oops!  But check the store out.  It’s a clean, well-stocked place with lots of useful stuff for .. you guessed it… $1.

There was some mixed feeling posted on this site when it was first announced that Dollar Tree was coming to San Carlos.  But give the place a chance.  I know the one in Belmont is busy all the time, and the City of Good Living can use every dollar of tax revenue it can get right now.   The new Dollar Tree Store is located at 1121 Old County Road in San Carlos in the Home Depot parking lot.
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Welcome to to the White Oaks Blog — the most widely read blog dedicated to the San Carlos real estate market! Have blog updates sent to you automatically by subscribing 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 Businesses on Twitter

A Great Business Tool…

Twitter is an amazing online tool for posting 140-character, real-time updates on….well, just about anything.  The early users of Twitter used the tool to update people on their whereabouts, like “I’m eating dinner at Town” or “Just dropped the kids off at school.”   OK, I guess there was some importance to informing the world on the minutiae of their day.   Since those early days of Twitter, the basics of the technology have remained largely unchanged, but how the tool is being used couldn’t be any different.

All of the major news networks now use Twitter as an effective way to post breaking news and draw traffic back to their websites.   “The Miracle on the Hudson” plane crash was first broken and covered on Twitter by witnesses and survivors, not by cable news networks like CNN.  And now, smart business owners are finding interesting ways to promote their company and their brand image on this medium.

San Carlos Businesses That Use Twitter.

There are a handful of San Carlos business owners who have embraced the real-time capabilities of Twitter to uniquely and effectively promote their businesses.    The technology is a perfect match for businesses whose products or services may change on a daily or hourly basis.  Here are three examples of San Carlos business owners who have truly elevated their brand image and customer awareness in this way:

Zest Bakery:  Our newest bakery in town also happens to be one of the few gluten-free bakeries on the Peninsula.  They post real-time updates about what specials they have on a particular day, and what samples are sitting warm and toasty on their counter.   Last week, they posted a picture of a lemon cake glazed with chocolate icing.  That’s just not playing fair 😉

Jett Cakes:  Food trucks have been around for decades..but specialty cupcakes on the road?   That’s a very unique business idea that totally relies on a) great cupcakes, obviously… and b) customers knowing where you’re going to be and when every day.  Marianne does a great job of using Twitter to take care of the latter, posting tweets about what her special baked treats are for that day, and where she will be selling them.

The Reading Bug:  Books – talk about an ever-changing industry!  The key for small, specialty bookstores to compete with the big, online gorillas is to get people into their stores.  The Reading Bug shines in this area by hosting reading sessions for the kids, and by constantly getting new releases into their inventory — all things that you can find out about on their Twitter page.

Wait…There’s More.

These three aren’t the only San Carlos businesses that use Twitter.   Here’s what I’m sure is just a partial list of businesses who are putting their business online in a cool fashion.  Just click on the name to go right to their Twitter feed.

Did I miss anyone?  Of course I did!  If you know of a San Carlos business that isn’t mentioned above and is using Twitter in a cool and unique fashion, let us know by leaving a comment below.   I’ll add it to the Twitter List that I have already started to compile:  San Carlos Businesses on Twitter.  Feel free to follow this list on your own Twitter account!
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Welcome to to the White Oaks Blog — the most widely read blog dedicated to the San Carlos real estate market! Have blog updates sent to you automatically by subscribing 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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High Speed Rail to Run Above Ground in San Carlos

Plan Released

According to the detailed plan that was released by the California High Speed Rail Authority on Thursday, most of the high-speed rail section that will someday traverse the Peninsula and the South Bay will do so above ground, and not in an underground trench as many communities had hoped for.   According to this article in the Daily News, the Rail Authority assigned most Peninsula cities above-ground implementations since they are the least expensive, but that decision was not well received by many community leaders on the Peninsula who were lobbying very hard to minimize the intrusion of the new rail system.

Elevated? Been There, Done That…

While many communities on the Peninsula now face the first prospect of an elevated train track splitting their city, San Carlos is one of the only cities that has at least some experience in this area.   Years ago, amidst a sea of contention, San Carlos opted to elevate the Caltrain tracks through its city limits as a way to alleviate the chronic traffic tie-ups at the railroad crossings.   Opponents to the plan believed that an elevated berm would isolate the east side of the city from the west — a fear many community leaders on the Peninsula are now expressing for their own constituents.

Whether or not this was the net effect on San Carlos is a subjective matter, but what one cannot argue is the fact that traffic flow at the Howard Avenue, Brittan Avenue, and Holly Street intersections is immeasurably better since the tracks were elevated.  They’re still far from perfect, but much better than before.

A Little More Noise?

Aside from the isolation concerns, one of the biggest objections to an elevated track will be the noise impact.   It’s not a stretch to see how the wind noise and rail noise that’s generated by a train that is capable of 200 mph will be far different (and quite possibly louder) than what we’re accustomed to with CalTrain today.   Granted, the train will likely not be hitting those speeds on the Peninsula, but the noise element will be a big concern for many.

In reality, with all of the objections already being voiced by community leaders, it’s easy to see how the whole California High Speed Rail idea could spend the next decade or so in the court system…instead of fulfilling the dream of a high-speed rail backbone in California.

What are your thoughts on the High Speed Rail Initiative?
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Welcome to to the White Oaks Blog — the most widely read blog dedicated to the San Carlos real estate market! Have blog updates sent to you automatically by subscribing 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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Dollar Tree Coming to San Carlos?

Update — 7/26:

The San Carlos Planning Commission has just given the go-ahead needed for the Dollar Store to move into the space formerly occupied by Hollywood Video.

Former Hollywood Video Site.

A Dollar Tree store in San Carlos?  It could happen.   A few years after a competing store was blocked from setting up shop in what is now Bianchini’s Market, the Dollar Tree is eyeing the spot of the former Hollywood Video Store that’s in the Home Depot/Lucky’s parking lot on Old County Road.   For those of you not familiar with the Dollar Tree (or other stores like it) they sell a bunch of stuff that’s priced at $1, hence their name.

In tonight’s Planning Commission Meeting, the owner of the building at 1121 Old County Road will ask the City to modify the conditional use permit that’s in place for the building, thus clearing the way for a wider variety of uses for the building…like a Dollar Tree store.   For more information, check out this article in the Daily Journal..

What Do You Think?

San Carlos residents already punted on the idea of a “discount” store like this one, but it was closer to downtown.  What do you think about a Dollar Tree store in San Carlos?
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Welcome to to the White Oaks Blog — the most widely read blog dedicated to the San Carlos real estate market! Have blog updates sent to you automatically by subscribing 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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“Why Doesn’t San Carlos Have a Peet’s Coffee?”

Conspicuously Absent

It’s a question that I seem to hear all the time.

There’s no doubt that downtown San Carlos has a healthy appetite for caffeine.  How else could a town as small as this support no fewer than three Starbucks stores, as well as a host of other boutique coffee shops? (Speaking of which, I am still convinced that Plantation makes the best cappuccino in town.)    Combine this with the seemingly endless string of new restaurants opening up on Laurel Street, and you’d think there would be enough options for every caffeinated palate.

But there’s one notable exception…

A Loyal Following

Coffee drinkers have preferences that are as strong as the coffee that they drink, and Peet’s Coffee and Tea has a very loyal and growing customer base.  So I’m not surprised to hear people ask “Why doesn’t San Carlos have a Peet’s Coffee?”  At one time, it was widely rumored that a Peet’s was going to open in the bottom-floor retail space at the 1001 Laurel Street condo complex.  But that doesn’t appear to be happening.  So for now, fans need to schlep to Redwood City or Belmont to get their Peet’s fix.

So what do you think?    Is there room in downtown San Carlos for one more coffee shop?   Would a Peet’s Coffee survive in downtown San Carlos?  Hmmm, we haven’t had a poll in a while on the site…

Does San Carlos Need a Peet's Coffee and Tea Store?

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Welcome to to the White Oaks Blog — the most widely read blog dedicated to the San Carlos real estate market! Have blog updates sent to you automatically by subscribing 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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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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Welcome to to the White Oaks Blog — the most widely read blog dedicated to the San Carlos real estate market! Have blog updates sent to you automatically by subscribing 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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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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Welcome to to the White Oaks Blog — the most widely read blog dedicated to the San Carlos real estate market! Have blog updates sent to you automatically by subscribing 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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What Do You Think?

Should Hot Harvest Nights Move To Sunday?

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