Chez TJ: office would tower over gourmet restaurant


For the last five years, Louise Christy has been the volunteer gardener for Chez TJ, the highest-rated restaurant in Mountain View. But soon her kitchen garden and the old Victorian that houses Chez TJ could be overshadowed by a four-story office building.

"It's going to destroy this garden," Christy said. "It's basically going to steal the light from this entire property."

Christy pointed to a tall palm tree near the fence, and said, "Can you imagine a building that tall?"

Los Altos-based developer Roger Burnell has proposed a 61-foot tall building at 902 Villa St., 5 feet from the fence line with Chez TJ. The city's zoning administrator is set to make a recommendation on the project June 13, and a City Council vote is set for July 10.

Christy said the public is invited to walk through the garden and imagine a 61-foot wall next door.

"The new building will loom over the restaurant and garden," Christy said. "What kind of architect, developer, and city review people, could let the design get to so advanced a state without saying, 'Hey, this design isn't right?'"

"It's going to be a huge detriment to what we do here," said Joey Elenterio, executive chef at the Michelin star-winning restaurant where the prix fixe dinner costs well over $100 a person. "There's going to be this large building overshadowing this beautiful Victorian house."

Elenterio said he and 20 interns that he trains every year get a lot of inspiration from the herb and vegetable garden.

"It's extremely important to us," Elentario said. "You can't get fresh coriander seeds from the produce market."

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3 people like this
Posted by Sparty
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jun 8, 2012 at 2:36 pm

$100/person restaurant with a volunteer gardener?

whatever floats their boats.

where do I find a housekeeper that love to clean house for the heck of it and will do it for free? No, not my house some other house, then I will charge the people in that house for the service.

3 people like this
Posted by Bettina
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jun 8, 2012 at 3:20 pm

I don't know how many stories a 61ft tall building is, I guess it would depend on the height of each floor, but it makes sense to look around at the neighbors around this location and base the size of the new building on their heights. It would look ridiculous if it were towering over the whole block. I think one should also consider that the restaurant is successful and has been there many years, its a good neighbor and it provides some of us a place to dine that's unique for special occasions. We don't need to lose another good small business for the sake of more tax revenue.

3 people like this
Posted by Louise
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 8, 2012 at 4:17 pm

Because she's not paid, she doesn't have to produce to order, can grow whatever she wants, can try different plants or techniques and see if they succeed or fail, doesn't have to worry if cold weather stops the tomatoes from ripening, can tell the chef he's a crazy dude without repercussion, and can walk away for vacation, or whatever, whenever she wants. She does it because it's fun.

3 people like this
Posted by Otto Maddox
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jun 11, 2012 at 3:09 pm

Wait til the Council finds out she's running a garden for commerical purposes.

Permits, fees, inspections.. they'll put her right out of business!

3 people like this
Posted by Mr. Nice
a resident of St. Francis Acres
on Jun 11, 2012 at 8:58 pm

They should grow different varieties of premium MJ, then have a Hookah bar, very cool, and no violence like traditional bars.

3 people like this
Posted by Friendly Neighbor
a resident of Whisman Station
on Jun 12, 2012 at 4:07 pm

The surrounding neighborhood has nothing even close to being this tall. There might be a tall building across the street but the complex next door and tied house are 2 stories max

we need to fight these greedy [Portion removed, terms of use]

3 people like this
Posted by Patricia Larenas
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jun 13, 2012 at 3:05 pm

I hope that the design can be changed to lessen the negative impact on Chez TJ- my husband proposed to me there 10 years ago! And besides being a long-standing Mountain View business in a historic building which retains some of the character of our city, the owner does a valuable community service by providing jobs training for so many interns every year.

What are we giving up, and for what gain if the development goes through as planned?

I've lived in this city for over 30 years, and I hope we can keep it an enjoyable and community-centered place to live.

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