By Elena Kadvany
Palo Altan to open brew-and-pizza focused restaurant in Los AltosUploaded: Jan 5, 2017
Palo Alto native Lars Smith, who has worked in and around restaurants since he was a teenager, will open State of Mind Public House, an homage to California beer and food, in Los Altos this year.
Smith, a co-owner at The Tap Room in downtown Palo Alto, is opening the new restaurant at 101 Plaza North with his brother, Andrew, also a Tap Room co-owner, and Amy Betz, a Tap Room manager.
"It's going to be a public house and pizzeria thats inspired by the Golden State," Smith said in an interview Thursday. That means 20 to 30 California beers on tap, California wines on tap and food that draws from California ingredients.
Pizza will be the main dining event, Smith said — all hand-tossed and thin crust. Check out photos of pies on State of Minds' Instagram:
There will also be pub food, similar to what's served at The Tap Room, like "dirty fries" topped with cheese, a fried chicken sandwich and a burger with additions like chipotle and avocado, Smith said. (The Smith brothers took home first place at the 2016 Palo Alto Chili Cook Off with a recipe that incorporated beer, Mexican chocolate and hand-chopped chuck roast.)
Smith knows pizza; he spent the last 10-plus years in management at Pizza My Heart, where he worked with Betz. As one of the first accounts for Palo Alto Brewing Company when it started, Pizza My Heart is also where Smith met Kasim Syed, the owner of Palo Alto Brewing Company. The Tap Room is the company's new tasting room and restaurant.
Growing up in Palo Alto, Smith worked at now-shuttered places like longtime brewery-restaurant Gordon Biersch and Boudin Sourdough at Stanford Shopping Center. His brother was a bartender and server for many years at PF Changs in Palo Alto. They both grew up around the food industry, with family members owning restaurants and their mother, a catering business.
Smith said they've been looking for a local space to open State of Mind for three to four years, during which they saw 15 to 20 spaces that "for one reason or another didn't work out." They wanted to remain on the Midpeninsula to "stick to our roots," he said. Smith still lives in Palo Alto.
The group envisions State of Mind Public House as a "family friendly, neighborhood, local, communal hangout," Smith said. Beyond the food and drink, close to 700 square feet of the 3,700-square-foot space will be dedicated to a "brewcade" with pinball machines and video games from the '80s and '90s (similar to the set-up at The Tap Room).
"Creating a place where people can gather" is important to the owners, Smith said.
He's hoping to be open by late spring or early summer. The group is planning a full face lift of the space, the former home of longtime Los Altos establishment Maltby's Public House. (The name is just a coincidence, Smith said. They incorporated the new restaurant's name several years ago.)