Chez TJ, Tied House team up for mixed-use project | News | Mountain View Online |


Chez TJ, Tied House team up for mixed-use project

Downtown's fine-dining restaurant merging with next-door brew pub

Michelin-starred Chez TJ, as the Mountain View community now knows it, will cease to exist in several years.

The owner of Chez TJ, the city's high-end restaurant serving gourmet tasting dinners in a historic Victorian house on Villa Street, along with neighboring restaurant and brewery Tied House, are moving forward with a joint plan to build a four-story office building at their sites, Chez TJ executive chef Jarad Gallagher said Wednesday. As proposed, the bottom floor of the new building will house a new 3,000 square-foot restaurant on top of several levels of underground parking. Gallagher said he hopes the space will house the next iteration of Chez TJ, though the developer has not yet decided on an operator.

George Aviet opened Chez TJ in 1982 with then-partner and chef Thomas J. McCombie in a Victorian home built in 1894. Gallagher has served as executive chef since 2012, after a series of head chefs cycled through the kitchen, leaving to open their own high-end restaurants in the Bay Area.

Aviet did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Gallagher said Aviet eventually plans to retire, and will turn over the new Chez TJ to Gallagher.

Tied House also has deep roots in Mountain View. The microbrewery opened at 954 Villa St. in 1988. If the new restaurant serves beer, it will likely be Tied House brews, though that remains to be worked out, Gallagher said.

Daniel Minkoff of the Minkoff Group, which is developing the project, said Wednesday that his company has not yet decided who will run the new restaurant, but has discussed a vision for the space, a "gastropub" serving modern cuisine, with Chez TJ and Tied House. The desire, Minkoff said, is to have the existing operators involved.

The Minkoff Group also developed the 23andMe headquarters in Mountain View and a new Visa building in Palo Alto.

Details about the new restaurant remain hazy since permits have not yet been approved by the city, but it will serve lunch and dinner and be open seven days a week. For Chez TJ, this would mean shifting away from its longtime fine-dining concept.

Despite this, as Gallagher envisions it, "it's still going to be Chez TJ."

The restaurant has been approaching its limit on the amount of physical space available to continue to "develop and grow," he said. A large-scale development would allow the restaurant to continue to evolve and for Aviet to benefit from tenants who will pay a higher rent in the new building.

"We've kind of maximized for what the square footage allows for us to do," Gallagher said. "The hope is for us to develop the building and put the new retooled, modernized Chez TJ with enough room for us to keep the trend (going)."

Gallagher said he and Aviet are currently looking for a local space, in either downtown Mountain View or Los Altos, to relocate Chez TJ while construction is underway on Villa Street. There, the restaurant's fine-dining "legacy" will continue as its owner and chef figure out what will "be best for the new spot," Gallagher said.

They're also looking into donating the existing Victorian home to a local park where it would be preserved as a historical site, he said. They plan to keep two heritage magnolia trees outside the current restaurant. The trees will become the "focal point" of the entire building, Minkoff said.

They plan to build about 39,000 square feet of office space. There will also be outdoor seating and potentially a roof garden that would grow herbs for the restaurant. (Chez TJ has long grown its own herbs and other produce in a garden next to the restaurant.)

Max Hauser, an Old Mountain View resident, said Aviet, Minkoff and others presented preliminary details about the project at a neighborhood meeting on Monday, May 1. They described the restaurant as "not a replacement for Chez TJ, but informed by the TJ history and at a lower price level, in Aviet's words, an intermediate point between a typical downtown-MV restaurant experience and 'fine dining,'" Hauser wrote in an email Wednesday.

Chez TJ's closure is years out, Gallagher noted, with plenty of steps to take and approvals to secure before moving forward with construction. Minkoff said a series of community meetings for the project will soon kick off, likely in June.

The City Council is tentatively scheduled to discuss the project at a study session on June 13, according to the city's Community Development Department.

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27 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 4, 2017 at 2:40 pm

Really disappointed by this -- two long-standing and unique downtown MV places going for a glass box with offices that will be used by a handful of people and a vague restaurant concept (Scratch II that serves Tied House beer?). There are two surface parking lots directly across the street from this.

4 people like this
Posted by BigFan
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 4, 2017 at 3:02 pm

Great proposal, too bad Transvideo is not involved in this partnership as well.
The 900 Villa Street development next door is beautiful(Facebook/Whatsapp Bldg.) but disappointing. That developer never delivered the public coffee house on the first floor, it still sits vacant.

Having George Aviet as a partner in this Minkoff proposal next door will certainly deliver a great dining experience and a truly great ground floor tenant serving wonderful food and some Tied House beers perhaps. I was really looking for a boutique hotel encompassing Chez TJ years ago when the 900 Villa Street was originally developed. Maybe the Transvideo owner would be interested in a partnership as well.

The block is perfect for a well thought development considering the new transit station and the truncation of Castro Street.

24 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 4, 2017 at 3:28 pm

Sorry to see these places go, and sorry for the hard-working staff in both establishments. Both of these buildings make Mountain View unique and beautiful. Mountain View doesn't need another office building. It can't even fill the ones it already has.

12 people like this
Posted by fixiegirl
a resident of Blossom Valley
on May 4, 2017 at 3:40 pm

It needs to include the parking as described. The developer of the 900 Villa building swore it would have plenty of parking - and there's none.

George deserves a great retirement, so I am glad this could happen.

22 people like this
Posted by 29 year resident
a resident of Waverly Park
on May 4, 2017 at 3:46 pm

A lot of the wonderful experience at Chef TJ's is the ambiance of the old house with the small rooms for intimate dining. Doubtful I will continue to celebrate special occasions in a large restaurant. Sad to see it go and a large, new building replacing these iconic restaurants. Big, new, and modern does not beaDF5t unique and charming.

24 people like this
Posted by Seriously
a resident of Martens-Carmelita
on May 4, 2017 at 3:54 pm

Hoping to donate the Victorian house to a local park? Where did they get that idea - from the developer of the office building next door perhaps? It worked for him - he got to build his non-descript offices without having to do anything with his historic house - because he offered to "donate" it to Cuesta Park Annex (he knew that idea wouldn't fly) and then let it rot and fall apart. Friends on the council almost certainly helped this project along.
Suitable places to relocate antique structures are almost impossible to find but the "donor" likes to give the appearance of being some sort of community benefactor. City council - please say NO! NO to this proposed development and NO to giving up precious park space. The character of our city is being lost to greed.

13 people like this
Posted by Amber Kerr
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 4, 2017 at 4:09 pm

Awww, what a bummer. As other commenters have said, these two buildings are unique and historical. It would be a real shame to see them go. It seems odd to obliterate these pieces of Mountain View's history in order to build yet another multi-story office complex. Can't a less destructive location be found?

35 people like this
Posted by Monta Loma
a resident of Monta Loma
on May 4, 2017 at 5:34 pm

MORE office space? I thought that was the root of the "jobs imbalance" problem that is cited to justify all that new high-density residential. Too many jobs, bringing too much traffic, which is then supposedly fixed with more high-density.

Can the city council please just learn to say "NO" to office developments?

21 people like this
Posted by Nothing left
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 4, 2017 at 6:33 pm

There's going to be nothing left with an ounce of character in downtown MV. Tied House is one of my favorite buildings-- love the small windows and the quirky decor. Another glass box is not what we need.

3 people like this
Posted by Ken M
a resident of Castro City
on May 4, 2017 at 8:05 pm

Good plan. I support.

9 people like this
Posted by Dave V
a resident of North Whisman
on May 5, 2017 at 11:25 am

Tied House has changed a lot over time and is not close to what it used to be. The service levels at new competition (Steins and Eureka) are having a good effect at forcing Tied House to change their game. The existence of Tied House in its present service state is a testament to how lazy its regulars at The Corner are - and we are much fewer in numbers on any given night than we used to be.

6 people like this
Posted by Fancy A. Pint
a resident of Old Mountain View
on May 11, 2017 at 7:27 am

Decades ago, one of the primary allures of OMV was the Tied House -- a microbrewery within walking distance(and occasionally in my younger days, "stumbling" distance to home). It had a good vibe for the time. But alas, the quality in brew, eats and service declined -- and other "beer hall" venues popped up nearby to suck away TH business.

It wouldn't be a tremendous loss for the TH to drift away, however its single-story, warehouse-like building -- and the homey Chez TJ structure next door -- give OMV a little character that's being eroded by the glass towers and mega-structures going up around town. Growth, in the form of new office buildings and the businesses they may draw, may be good in general, this resident thinks that, looking through a wider lense, the city and OMV would do well to keep those two structures as they are, regardless of who or what business occupies them. Again, we're talking about character here. Think of the the busy, if not bustling, cities you've visited and found that a little piece of the old enhances the character and attraction of the new.

10 people like this
Posted by Concerned
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jun 14, 2017 at 11:30 am

Watched the city council last night, during something called a study session, where it listened to public input then deliberated on this matter. All but two members seemed to be okay with razing the Chez TJ and Tied House buildings in favor of another office building. This, even after someone from a local-history group, who really knew her stuff, cited the historic significance of each building.

Have to admit, it's disheartening to see a government body entrusted with doing what's best for the city -- long-term, with a broad vision -- can't see the the proverbial forest from the proverbial trees. It seems council members could benefit from being reminded of their obligations.

Does anyone share this opinion?

7 people like this
Posted by Quinn F
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 17, 2017 at 11:31 pm

Chez TJ and The Tied House are significant historical resources that help make Mountain View the lovely place it is.
I am only 21 years old and have already seen so many buildings/houses that I love demolished and it upsets me every time. I have spent my entire life growing up walking past these two buildings in particular. I would be beyond sad to see them torn down (or even moved for that matter because it is simply not the same).
I made so many memories in the Tied House and have been waiting for a day special enough to have dinner at Chez TJ. I won't be able to do this if it is demolished by developers to make room for more office buildings.
It is not acceptable to allow developers destroy historic buildings simply because they have the financial capital to do so.
In the state our world is in right now, it is important to take a step back and evaluate how to plan with a clear vision of what the community needs and desires.
This step back starts with SAVING these two buildings from becoming unneeded office space.

3 people like this
Posted by YIMBY
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jun 18, 2017 at 11:39 am

[Post removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language]

5 people like this
Posted by Jeff T
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 21, 2017 at 10:50 am

I grew up in MV and this city is changing beyond recognition. I understand that change is good and we need to see development move with demand but another large office project is not what's appropriate for this area. We have plenty of larger buildings vacant next to transit in the Whisman Station and OMV areas. Keeping the two buildings and re-leasing them to tenants that appreciate the smaller scale and the community it is surrounded by would benefit this area the most. I don't understand how you can plug a 40k sf office building between two residential properties off of our main strip (Castro). If any project should erect on these two properties it should be moderately scaled housing and include the third site nextdoor. Everyone including the council knows we need more housing downtown...

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