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Local owner, manager to open Mountain View restaurant

Uploaded: Aug 8, 2017
The owner of Palo Alto Brewing Company and the former general manager of Scratch in Mountain View are teaming up to open a new venture: a Mountain View restaurant focused on bourbon and barbecue.

Kasim Syed, who owns Palo Alto Brewing Company, The Rose & Crown and The Tap Room in Palo Alto, and Jon Andino of Scratch are behind Quality Bourbons & Barbecue (QBB for short) at 216 Castro St. They took over the space from Syed's family, who ran Pakistani restaurant Shezan there.

Quality Bourbons & Barbecue is set to open soon on Castro Street in Mountain View. Photo by Elena Kadvany.

The two met — where else — drinking beer at The Rose & Crown, Andino said Monday. They've been talking about opening a restaurant together since 2013.

Andino has worked in restaurants since 1999, including locally as manager of the Palo Alto Creamery and Reposado. Both Andino and Syed have experience in pizza as well, but Andino said they felt the cities they know best, Palo Alto and Mountain View, weren't in need of yet another pizza restaurant.

"But what both cities are lacking," Andino said, "is barbecue."

They had planned to open their restaurant in Palo Alto, Andino said, but then Gordon Biersch reopened as Dan Gordon's in 2016 with a focus on beer and barbecue. Other local, dedicated barbecue eateries include Dickey's Barbecue Pit in Mountain View, Armadillo Willy's in Los Altos and Harold's Ribs, a stand at a car wash in Mountain View.

Andino and Syed recently made an offer to a chef (Andino declined to say who) who they plan to give free reign to develop the QBB food menu.

"Largely, the menu hinges on who the chef is because we strongly believe that we need to hire the right people and let them do their job," he said. "What we really want to do — and we've talked to the chef about — is simple, classic, traditional barbecue."

Expect barbecue pork ribs, brisket, pulled pork and chicken with sides like cole slaw, potato salad, macaroni and cheese, collard greens and baked beans. The menu will be "simple and focused," Andino said, with about two or three appetizers, two sandwiches, two salads and a single dessert.

Drinks-wise, QBB will have Palo Alto Brewing Company beers on tap and an "expansive" list of bourbons available to drink neat or on the rocks.

"We're planning on having the best bourbon list in town," Andino said.

There will also be cocktails on tap, or pre-mixed batches of particular drinks. Andino said he hasn't seen this elsewhere in Mountain View. Draft cocktails means less customization, however; they won't be able to accommodate customers who want a sweeter or stronger drink, Andino said.

QBB will serve lunch and dinner. With a final inspection scheduled for the end of August, they're hoping to be open "as soon as possible," Andino said.

What is it worth to you?


Posted by Eric, a resident of another community,
on Aug 8, 2017 at 12:38 pm

This will be the first sit down place to open on Castro in a while. Downtown is looking worse and worse to restaurants as parking problems increase. Sit down places continue to get replaced with fast casual grab and go. Parking hits 100% capacity when overall restaurants are at about 50%. And the city council continues to let parking erode.

Meanwhile Palo Alto and Redwood City-- both aware that parking needs to be in the mix in downtowns, attract new quality restaurants.

Posted by Incorrect, a resident of Barron Park,
on Aug 8, 2017 at 3:20 pm

Eric--Sweetgreen opened in June and BonChon opened last month. They are both sit down places

Posted by Reader, a resident of another community,
on Aug 8, 2017 at 3:45 pm

Eric, your logic makes no sense. Fast casual grab and go is more dependent on parking than sit down restaurant. If I am going to Castro street for a sit down meal, I'm willing to park a little further away than if I'm just going to grab some takeout.

Posted by eric, a resident of another community,
on Aug 8, 2017 at 4:21 pm

@Reader, you are mistaken. Fast casual operators are attracted to daytime (ie- office employee) population.

@Incorrect, both of the places you mention are fast casual franchises. They are essentially fast food places with better fare.

I'm sure these places are great for a quick lunch and the food may be just fine. But they are a symptom of a downtown restaurant scene in decline.

Posted by Karin, a resident of Cuesta Park,
on Aug 8, 2017 at 8:58 pm

Great idea! BBQ downtown! Try to emulate 3Pigs restaurant in San Carlos...delicious menu and wonderful sides that pair well with BBQ. While we are talking about San Carlos, The Toss is also an excellent salad restaurant. Wish we had both in MV.

Posted by Reader, a resident of another community,
on Aug 8, 2017 at 10:24 pm

I am happy to see more food diversity in Mountain View.

It sure beats the Nineties when downtown Mountain View was essentially occupied by a bunch of completely forgettable mediocre Chinese restaurants.

Of course, I'm sure some readers here long for those days.

Posted by Max Hauser, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on Aug 9, 2017 at 11:56 am

Max Hauser is a registered user.

"beats the Nineties when downtown Mountain View was essentially occupied by a bunch of completely forgettable mediocre Chinese restaurants."

Whoa. Either Reader from Another Community occupied a parallel universe, or missed much of downtown MV. In those days I frequented many restaurants below (still have their business cards). Castro Street's reconfiguration at the end of the 1980s had redeemed what'd earlier been a much-declined downtown; by 1991 it was already known as a restaurant destination, including:

101 Club, 821 W ECR near Castro. Modest but historic neighborhood pub (its sign appears in many old ECR photos at the History Center), same building earlier housed the mysterious "A&A Chili & Sandwiches." When Joe Escobar ran it in the late '90s, 101 had sandwiches, beer, pub games.

Amarin (Thai) -- two sites then (one vegetarian), 156 & 160 Castro.

Austin's Texas Barbeque & Homestyle Meals, 1616 W ECR near Castro.

Blue Sky Café, Bryant St. Famous for brunches.

Castro Street Bar and Grill, 174 Castro (first place locally to offer tapenade with bread).

Florentine, 118 Castro.

Fogg's International Tavern, 303 Bryant. (That era's Steins or Bierhaus.)

Jacqueline's bistro and wine bar. Mervyn's Fine Foods, 236 Castro, the Greek-American café, longtime downtown institution.

Sue's Indian Cuisine, 216 Castro. Sue Sista was one of two South-Bay Indian restaurateuses famous around the Bay Area. Her relatives operated succeeding restaurants at the address, and I believe one of them is a partner in the new place this blog post is about.

Yes there were several Chinese restaurants in the 1990s too (I don't list them all here) -- yet some were quite good. I have fine memories of Tien Fu and Szechuan Garden, and when I took HK relatives (who knew Cantonese food) to Food Street, attracted by the roast ducks hanging in the window, they ordered up a stellar comfort-food meal.

Posted by Max Hauser, a resident of Old Mountain View,
on Aug 9, 2017 at 5:36 pm

Max Hauser is a registered user.

Continuing from above (sorry for clumsy line -- Jacqueline's at 185 Castro had no connection with Mervyn's Fine Foods), those above were just the downtown-area places gone now, I didn't mention others of the '90s still going strong, like 3 of the 4 current upscale Mexican restaurants, Chez TJ, Clarke's Charcoal Broiler, and three other down-to-earth Chinese restaurants, all different, all with strengths if you look for them and good value. The greater downtown area (a little farther from Castro) also embraced the longtime El Calderon back then, which even Herb Caen paid homage to (riding what's now Caltrain to eat there after hearing about the restaurant in SF), and the little cluster to the west, all still there (El Paso Cafe, FJ&L, and Le Petit Bistro Web Link ).

When I see someone choosing to contrast today's downtown-MV restaurant scene against the 1990s, it suggests to me that they weren't acquainted with the neighborhood slightly earlier, before the Revitalization project re-shaped and re-awakened Castro. The main break in downtown-MV history is between the current (post-1990) era and prior decades, when Castro was four lanes, sidewalks were narrow, and many old shops had closed. Whereas changes since 1990 have been steady but incremental: early-1990s Castro St. is readily recognizable as a variation of today's (there are even many photos). Compare the pre-Revitalization image in Nick Perry's history book, ISBN 0738531367 : "Castro Street appears quite desolate and bleak in this 1982 photograph of the 200 block. The only people on its narrow brick sidewalks are two souls waiting for a bus." You could as well claim that downtown MV dining is radically different now from the early '00s, or from five years ago, as the 1990s.

I'd guess the other factor is that people who claim such a contrast are better acquainted with downtown MV dining today than they were when they ate there in the '90s, and this difference of familiarity colors their perceptions. But there was certainly diverse dining 25 years ago, I've given examples here, some of them good or unique enough to attract diners from other towns then. The biggest shift I notice since the '90s is that with all the openings and closings, rising rents, and competition for commercial space, the total restaurant count keeps growing. Three more retail spaces were recently converted or are now being converted to restaurants, and I now count 115 restaurant spaces in the greater downtown, within a few minutes' walk of MV City Hall.

Posted by Mark Silverman, a resident of Menlo Park,
on Aug 10, 2017 at 5:58 pm

"I am happy to see more food diversity in Mountain View.

It sure beats the Nineties when downtown Mountain View was essentially occupied by a bunch of completely forgettable mediocre Chinese restaurants.

Of course, I'm sure some readers here long for those days."
@Reade, resident of another community

Geeze. talk about a food snob. *ROFL*

Posted by Histerical, a resident of Professorville,
on Aug 11, 2017 at 11:50 am

Living off Castro in the early 70's I remember going to see raunchy/terrible movies at the scuzzy theater.

Shows cost $2 for adults and $4 for children, I assume to deter the then current practice of abandoning one's children at the movie theater during summers and on weekends.

Here's a link to a 9 year old thread of downtown Mountain View memories.
Web Link

Posted by Eric, a resident of another community,
on Aug 14, 2017 at 3:09 pm

@Max Hauser, nice write up, but I dont believe that the Castro revitalization project had nearly the impact you assign it. University Ave in PA took off at roughly the same time-- it was almost as sleepy as Castro St back in the 80's. New office buildings came to Castro at the same time as the street narrowing-- A great idea that I think was poorly executed. The Performing Arts Center brings lots of people downtown-- if you consider that part of the revitalization I suppose I partially agree with you.

None of which changes the fact that dt MV has passed its peak, and it was totally preventable.

Posted by Max Hauser, a resident of Mountain View,
on Aug 16, 2017 at 5:53 pm

Max Hauser is a registered user.

Eric: I cited the Revitalization project's effects in the context of Reader's claim that downtown MV today "beats the Nineties when [it] was essentially occupied by a bunch of completely forgettable mediocre Chinese restaurants" which mischaracterized the 1990s restaurant population; also I notice that people who experienced the pre-Revitalization downtown are less inclined to contrast today with the 1990s.

Yes, I use "Revitalization" inclusively for several linked projects: the 1991 Civic Center (City Hall & PAC), "centerpiece of Castro Street's revitalization" (Nick Perry), the adjacent Library, and Castro Street's reconfiguration which brought (in the 1990s) the outdoor seating we know today. The high school's replacement at 650 Castro with the Park Place complex (commercial and apartments) was also in that era.

Until the late '80s, MV downtown retail businesses had been in slow decline, with shops closing. After 1991 the trend quickly reversed with more retail opening, much of it restaurants. I do notice lately fewer independents, more chains. I guess it's inevitable when leases renew at triple the former rent (which drove out Hunan Chili; a chain restaurant replaced it). Yet the total restaurant count keeps growing, as I mentioned.

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