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alkymists shutters after less than two months in downtown Palo Alto

Uploaded: Nov 10, 2014
alkymists, the unusual downtown Palo Alto restaurant that hoped to merge food and philanthropy in one space, has closed after less than two months, former manager Thierry Fassiotti confirmed Monday.

alkymists opened in mid-September at 140 University Ave., the corner space previously home to Palo Alto Grill for 15 months and before that, Miyake.

Fassiotti said owner Luka Dvornik, who brought him in to flip the space after Palo Alto Grill closed in July, "pulled the rug out from our entire team" last week.

Fassiotti alluded to financial trouble, saying that the restaurant struggled to pay investors back. The kitchen crew walked out after Dvornik announced the closure last week, he said.

Fassiotti said many staff, including him, remain unpaid. He has helped a few of them get jobs across the street at La Boulange.

"We will not see the money any time soon," he said. "I'm going to count my losses and go back to L.A. next week."

Above: Thierry Fassiotti, right, stands with hostess Bryn Carmassi at the restaurant's soft opening on Sept. 18, 2014. Photo by Natalia Nazarova.

alkymists was a personal passion project for Fassiotti, a native of France who came to the Bay Area after a long restaurant and philanthropy career in Los Angeles. The restaurant served world-fusion food and planned to host free monthly brunches for low-income, battered or homeless women and their children, as well as teach them about nutrition and health. (Read a Sept. 26 feature I wrote on alkymists: Doing good with food)

Dvornik did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The 3,926-square-foot space (and its Type 47 liquor license) is officially on the market, listed for rent for $14,000 Triple Net plus $6,000 Triple Nets or for sale for $300,000. (In the comments section on the listing: "Seller invested over $1.0 million in the past two years. Please do not talk to employees.")
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 +   2 people like this
Posted by Neilson Buchanan, a resident of Downtown North,
on Nov 12, 2014 at 1:19 pm

I never went there but the restaurant seemed to be focused on a very narrow customer base. Will this be another conversion to office space, like Zibbibo, Rudys and California Pizza Kitchen(on Cowper)?

 +   3 people like this
Posted by RW, a resident of another community,
on Nov 12, 2014 at 3:44 pm

Bring back Miyakes!!! I loved standing on their chairs during dinnertime sake bombs. =)

 +   1 person likes this
Posted by guest, a resident of Adobe-Meadows,
on Nov 12, 2014 at 4:19 pm

RW, I totally agree, I loved the atmosphere at night and at a reasonable price.

 +   4 people like this
Posted by MiyakesLover, a resident of Cuesta Park,
on Nov 12, 2014 at 7:10 pm

MIYAAAAKES! It's a shame that its not there anymore. BEST PLACE EVER!

 +   4 people like this
Posted by Jasmine, a resident of East Palo Alto,
on Nov 12, 2014 at 11:16 pm

I'm sorry to hear about the loss. Fassiotti, thanks for trying and I wish you well with your future endeavors, the idea of helping the less fortune was wonderful.

 +  Like this comment
Posted by chris, a resident of University South,
on Nov 13, 2014 at 4:24 pm

Did they have a business plan?

I saw very little marketing and their sign was canvas.

It seemed more like a pop-up shop than a real business.

 +  Like this comment
Posted by Sparty, a resident of another community,
on Nov 14, 2014 at 1:33 am

Sparty is a registered user.

They should have hit up Chez Franc's investors.

Nearly a year and a half with zero return on the retail space

 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Happydiner, a resident of Old Palo Alto,
on Nov 14, 2014 at 5:19 pm

After looking at this place on-line and being intrigued with promised
happy hour and pork bellies, and after calling the restaurant and being assured they were open and happy hour would be varied and delicious, my friend and I showed up and there was no happy hour. "We haven't started that yet" was all they said. The two individuals pictured above were in a tete a tete in a far table and too busy to clarify or help so we left and went to Il Fornaio. I had misgivings about some of the skills of the "administrative" staff.

 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Bill, a resident of Meadow Park,
on Nov 15, 2014 at 3:44 pm

The name alone was a 'turn off!! WHAT was that???? Bring a Hobee's into downtown Palo Alto. How about some hometown favoroite!!

 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Bill, a resident of Meadow Park,
on Nov 15, 2014 at 3:44 pm

The name alone was a 'turn off!! WHAT was that???? Bring a Hobee's into downtown Palo Alto. How about some hometown favoroite!!

 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Professorville resident, a resident of Professorville,
on Nov 17, 2014 at 11:54 am

I was really looking forward to trying this restaurant, but I never saw anything about it opening, just looked it up this past weekend and was surprised it opened and closed already. Maybe someone will take this concept over and try again. It seems like a great fresh idea that locals could use.

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