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Los Altos: Enchanté Hotel granted public food and drink service

Uploaded: Aug 4, 2015
UPDATE: Enchanté Boutique Hotel received an amended permit to serve food and drink publicly at the Aug. 6 meeting of the Los Altos Planning and Transportation Commission.

Enchanté Boutique Hotel, a small "French chateau style" hotel in downtown Los Altos, is hoping to expand its food and drink service with an amended permit that would allow the hotel to serve the general public.

The owner of the 19-room hotel at One Main Street will be going to the Los Altos Planning and Transportation Committee this Thursday for an amendment to its existing use permit to clarify that the hotel can serve members of the public as well as hotel guests. The hotel hopes to serve the public in both its restaurant dining room and a public plaza that was built as a public benefit in exchange for a development incentive (no on-site parking), according to a staff report.

The hotel intends to provide service to the public only from 4 to 10 p.m. Hotel service during breakfast and lunch would still be limited to hotel guests only. This limitation aims to address any potential increase in parking demand during peak hours of 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., according to the staff report.

"However, allowing for the public to be served in the plaza is not anticipated to generate much, if any, additional parking demand since the plaza users will already be Downtown or live within a close proximity to the hotel," the report reads. "In addition, allowing for the service of food and beverages in the public plaza would allow for better use and enjoyment of the space by the public."

Out of 10 letters the city has received in response to Enchanté's permit application, eight are in support of the project. The hotel also submitted a petition in support of the use permit amendment with 56 signatures, including from many local business owners.

With so few outdoor options it is a lovely location that should be used for all of us to enjoy," Jennifer Walker wrote in an email to the city. "I can picture my husband and I sitting there and enjoying a glass of wine while our kids go to the movies downtown in the summer."

"It would be great advertising for the whole town if people driving by saw people enjoying our fair town instead of it looking like a ghost town," Los Altos resident Karen Parker wrote in an email.

Greg Massone, who has worked in commercial financing and business consulting in Los Altos since 1972, said the additional revenue public service would bring Enchanté is critical to the hotel's long-term success. It also could have "far reaching consequences" for other businesses looking to open in the city, he wrote.

"Many established businesses and those planning a business in town are watching how this situation is resolved. The outcome of this situation may have far reaching consequences. The business failure rate in town is relatively high. Let's not make it worse," he wrote.

Others, however, expressed concern about parking shortages and clogging pedestrian access through the public plaza.

"I assume a new project request which had a hotel, public dining, a bar, and an upstairs residence, with zero parking, would be roundly rejected by the Planning Commission," Roger Heyder wrote in an email.

City staff is still working with the hotel to record the pedestrian-use easement for the public plaza to ensure there is public access and enough space to walk through, according to the staff report.

Abigail Ahrens, a longtime Los Altos resident and realtor, opened the hotel, downtown Los Altos' first, in April. She traveled to France numerous times over several years to select items to decorate the hotel: vintage posters, Napoleon hat-shaped light fixtures, furniture, artwork and more. Rooms range in price from $275 to $675 per night.

Thursday's Planning and Transportation Commission meeting begins at 7p.m. in the Community Meeting Chambers at City Hall, 1 North San Antonio Road, Los Altos.
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