http://mv-voice.com/print/story/print/2008/04/04/the-table-will-take-your-order-now


Mountain View Voice

- April 4, 2008

The table will take your order now

Atari + Chuck E. Cheese = uWink, coming to Castro Street this summer

by Daniel DeBolt

California Roadhouse, the now-defunct bar and grill at 401 Castro Street, was going for an old-school image. But its replacement, due to arrive this summer, could be a whole new frontier in eating.

The incoming restaurant and bar, uWink, is packed with technology, including a touch screen at every table with interactive menus, video games, movie trailers and horoscopes.

Waiters don't take orders — the touch screen sends it straight to the kitchen.

The "fast casual" diner will take over the 6,700-square-foot site at California and Castro streets as early as this summer. It was approved for the spot by the zoning administrator on March 12.

A uWink has existed since 2006 in the Los Angeles suburb of Woodland Hills, but Alissa Tappan, the company's vice president, said the Mountain View location will have a new look and new games. The goal for Woodland Hills was to test the business model on a typical American city before coming to Silicon Valley, Tappan said. New uWinks are also set to open this year in Canada, Florida and Texas, and another in Southern California. The Mountain View location is the only uWink planned for Silicon Valley.

Several residents of Old Mountain View have discussed the site on the neighborhood list serve, with one resident concerned about a possible increase in traffic from the bustling restaurant. Another said he hoped the food "was as tasty as the theme is interesting."

The restaurant was founded by Nolan Bushnell, who also started Atari and Chuck E. Cheese. The new restaurant could be described as a cross between those two companies, but without the animatronics and with a menu aimed at people of all ages.

According to the company's Web site, Bushnell holds several major video game patents, once owned a robotics company, and is known by some as the father of the video gaming industry. It said uWink is showcasing a new interest of Bushnell's: "social gaming."

According to Bushnell, social games must not stifle conversation, must interest people of various backgrounds, must be easy (and not produce sore losers) and, of course, there must be breaks for the ordering of food and drinks.

Wall decor at the new restaurant includes projected digital images. The images can be changed upon request, like during birthday parties.

In Woodland Hills, appetizers and sandwiches go for $5 to $12. The food could be classified as "international comfort food," with mainstream dishes from around the world.

SIDEBAR:

Here is a list of some other recent or pending changes to downtown eateries:

• Hong Kong Bistro, 147 Castro St. (new arrival)

• W.G. Grinders, 142 Castro St. (new arrival)

• Taqueria La Bamba, 152 Castro St. (replaced El Grullense)

• Kappo Naminami, 240 Castro St. (new arrival)

• Tina's Kusina, 698 W. Dana St. (replaced Kauai BBQ Grill)

• Yogurt Fantasy, 650 Castro St. (replaced TCBY Treats)

• Xahn, 110 Castro St. (moved from 185 Castro St., replaced Monsoon Cuisine of India)

• Zpizza, 146 Castro St. (coming soon)

• Yogurberry, 252 Castro St. (coming soon)

• Diyar Bistro & Wine Bar, 300 Castro St. (coming soon)

• Fu Lam Mum Restaurant, 153 Castro St. (moving soon from 246 Castro St.)

— Casey Weiss

Comments

Posted by Steve Leung, a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 10, 2008 at 1:29 am

The ZPizza in downtown Mountain View on Castro is open now. There's more information at Web Link