San Francisco Peninsula Update on the Housing Market

February 11, 2013

40verbaleelane-hillsboroughOn the San Francisco Peninsula there are 14 active and 16 pending sales in Burlingame. Low inventory continues to be a problem everywhere. It is amazing how agents keep coming up with properties to sell to their waiting “pent up” buyers. Our Burlingame office just had 50 offers on a pair of fixer properties in San Mateo, which sold all cash substantially over asking price. There is little new inventory coming on in Hillsborough, however the high end is starting to show movement with four properties over $10 million and two over $5 million now in escrow. This is very encouraging to see high-end buyers actively in the market. Our Palo Alto manager says the inventory is even scarcer (if possible) than last year – while the demand is higher. Lack of inventory is the biggest concern for agents and clients in the Redwood City-San Carlos area. Agents are working in a wider area in order to find properties for their buyers. In San Mateo, our manager sees a slight increase in listings. Homes that are off-market coming back on the MLS in the Woodside and Portola Valley area. Sales have picked up over the past two weeks. Everyone has lots of buyers – not too many sellers yet.

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Alpine Inn and Historic Landmark (History of)

February 25, 2012

I frequently visit the Alpine Inn where a close friend of mine that I used to fly with for TWA works there. Geri Alexander is the owner’s daughter. People always ask about the history and I think that Steve did a great job with this article.  It is a lengthy read but if your interested in the Alpine Inn, here is the article.
Casa de Tableta was built in 1850 and used as ...

Image via Wikipedia

The Alpine Inn is one of the oldest businesses on the Peninsula, dating from a time when the local residents felt squeezed by the burgeoning population of foreign-born newcomers.
Nearly 150 years after it first opened for business, the Alpine Inn in Portola Valley continues to attract customers to the roadhouse/beer garden on the banks of Los Trancos Creek, at the corner of Alpine and Arastradero roads. And some customers still arrive on horseback.
In the 1850s, disappointed gold seekers began settling in the Santa Clara Valley to farm the fertile land. The earlier settlers, the Californios, felt displaced and outnumbered by the newcomers with their foreign customs and new form of government.
Many of the Californios withdrew from the valley and found refuge in remote areas such as Half Moon Bay and Portola Valley. Felix Buelna, a former alcalde (mayor) of San Jose, settled on 95 acres of Maximo Martinez’ Rancho de Corte de Madera in 1852. He soon opened a casa de tableta, a gambling house, where his fellow Californios could play cards, enjoying each’s company with their beverages of choice. Buelna’s roadhouse was established at the intersection of Arastradero Road and Alpine Road, then known as the Old Spanish Trail and a major route from the Santa Clara Valley to the coast communities of San Gregorio and Pescadero.
Business was good but Buelna’s gambling was not so good, and he sold the roadhouse to William Stanton, a Menlo Park coachman, reputedly to cover his losses in a poker game.
For the next century, ownership or proprietorship of the Alpine Inn would change numerous times, often with changes in ethnic flavor and with changes in the name of the roadhouse on Alpine Road.
In 1870 an Englishman, William Tate Philpott, leased the roadhouse for five years before Stanton resumed management, when it became known as Stanton’s Saloon. When Stanton died in a railroad accident, his family leased the business to F. Rodriguez Crovello, known to his customers as “Black Chapete.” The short, plump bartender with his black handlebar mustache was popular with his growing clientele of locals and construction workers who were building the new Stanford University.
When Stanford opened in 1891, the students soon discovered the liquid refreshments at Black Chapete’s, a welcoming change from “dry” Palo Alto. University officials pressured San Mateo County officials about the saloon operating near the university and its young, impressionable students. But county officials did nothing–as saloon keepers and related interests dominated San Mateo County politics, maintaining a very “wet” atmosphere throughout the county.
When the notoriously “wet” town of Mayfield incorporated in 1903, one of the first acts of the town trustees was to declare the town “dry,” thus forcing the closure of the 23 saloons in town. Charlie Wright, one of the former Mayfield saloon owners, began a partnership with Crovello at the Alpine roadhouse.
Soon thereafter Charles Schenkel took over management of the roadhouse and renamed it the “Wunder.” With the new name came a German flavor, but Schenkel’s proprietorship did not last nearly as long as the new name.
In 1907, Portola Valley farmer Walter Jelich bought Schenkel’s lease and continued the saloon’s operation. Stanford President David Starr Jordan took advantage of the change of ownership to protest the saloon’s presence to the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors. He complained that the establishment had “the reputation of being vile even for a roadhouse” and that it was a “disgrace to San Mateo County.”
But the Board of Supervisors again failed to share the Stanford viewpoint of and granted Jelich a liquor license before they even listened to Jordan’s plea. Jelich’s attorney responded that Jordan and the other Santa Clara County protestants should “missionize at home before crossing the creek.” As is the case with many protest efforts, the publicity only increased the popularity of the saloon. Local ranchers, farm workers and draymen continued to patronize the establishment, but it was Stanford students that made it a profitable business for more than 70 years.
In 1909 the State of California passed a law prohibiting the sale of liquor within 1 1/2 miles of schools and universities, including Stanford. This resulted in the closure of 14 saloons in Menlo Park, but left the Alpine Road establishment unaffected–it was just outside the new limit. With much of the competition banned, the saloon’s business boomed.
During World War I, the U.S. Army’s Camp Fremont in Menlo Park created a dry zone surrounding the camp. But this dry zone also did not extend to the roadhouse, and the soldiers joined the locals and the students in enjoying the liquid refreshments supplied there.
By 1911, saloonkeeper Chapete, then an old man, was living at the County’s “poor farm” and all interests in the saloon had passed to Julius Schenkel, the brother of Charles.
Then came Prohibition: the Volstead Act of 1919. Saloons closed nationwide as the nation became legally “dry.” For the next 13 years, rum runners and speakeasies were sources of alcoholic beverages.
Illegal liquor activity in San Mateo County was notorious, reflecting the sentiment of many of its residents. Numerous shipments of illegal liquor were smuggled into the county along the long coastline.
The Alpine Road establishment was renamed “Schenkel’s Picnic Park” and encouraged San Franciscans to come down to visit and enjoy the countryside. Advertised non-alcoholic beverages were sold, but more potent beverages were reputedly available to those in the know.
When prohibition ended in 1933, Stanford students exuberantly returned and Schenkel retired, the lease passing to Enrico Rossotti. Rossotti eventually purchased the property from the Stanton family and ran the popular establishment until 1956. Mr. and Mrs. Rossotti’s business became more than a saloon with the addition of burgers and similar grill food, popular with the crowds that often swelled enormously on Stanford home football gamedays. Alumni and families began to frequent the establishment in greater numbers.
Don Horther and John Alexander took over the roadhouse in 1956 and renamed it the “Alpine Inn Beer Garden”–but patrons today continue to refer to it as “Rossotti’s” or even more casually as “Zott’s.”
The clientele has changed over the years. Stanford students no longer dominate as they did for so many years. Like the Californios before them, the students have been replaced by new groups of beer-loving customers.
The saloon and its outdoor beer garden are populated by Silicon Valley workers out for a burger and beer at lunch under the trees. After work, the parking lot fills with expensive sports cars and luxury vehicles. On weekends, bicyclists, motorcyclists and occasionally horse riders pull off the road or trail to enjoy the pleasures of the Alpine Inn.
Located at 3915 Alpine Inn
Steve Staiger is the City of Palo Alto historian and a staff member at the main library.
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Oktoberfest in Redwood City yesterday.

October 16, 2011

Yesterday at the Redwood CityOktoberfest” was a complete blast. The one thing that was especially fun was watching all the children dance the day away. Boy, if I could bottle up the constant energy. It was so much fun. I meet some friends there and I ended up spending most of the day just dancing and watching all the people. This was a great event for Redwood City. The band was stupendous!

The band was the Internationals, they have played for more than 30 years. They played all national music. The dancers from the Bavarian Club were outstanding.

For more information on the band visit the Internationals website.



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Wine Bar in San Carlos

December 16, 2010

Great find! Great staff….great variety of wines. I love the fact that it seems to be a nice friendly neighborhood vibe to it.  A lot of bars/wine bars in SF are more of a pick up scene or places to show off what your latest fashion buy has been.  At Flight Lounge, totally relaxed and that’s what we needed.

I loved the South African Pinotage – I have not had that type of wine before and it was a great find.  Bought a bottle as a gift as well!

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Alpine Inn in Portola Valley

April 12, 2010

Whether you want a quick workout or a leisurely spin, The Loop in Palo Alto has you covered. This popular road bike route has several iterations; the Alpine Innone we recommend is relatively short, not too demanding, and suitable for novice or advanced riders. No road bike? Rent one at Bike Connection for $35 (a bit steep, but the wheels are yours for 24 hours). The 18-mile loop passes the Stanford campus, vaunted venture-capital companies on Sand Hill Road, and multimillion-dollar estates. The most-scenic stretches are west of I-280 in the less-trafficked towns of Woodside and Portola Valley. Those on a leisurely pace can make a pit stop at the historic Alpine Inn, two-thirds of the way through the ride; at more than 150 years old, this roadhouse beer garden is one of the Peninsula’s longestrunning businesses. Finish with a mad dash or a slow ram! Either way works close for the loop.

I am prejudiced of course, since I used to fly with Geri, who helps her Mom (Molly) run the place.

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The Road To The Alpine Inn, My Favorite Historical Place

January 22, 2010

Top of Sand Hill Road, looking back towards Po...
Image via Wikipedia

My favorite place of all is to relax and meet friends at the Alpine Inn, formerly called Rissotti’s or “Zott’s”…

 Of course, I am partial since my dear friend and my other dear Mother own the place. But, if you just want a beer/wine/soft drink it is a great place to just be yourself and hang-out. If you want a great burger, chicken or other this is the place. The fries are great too! This is why this place is on my main page as one of the historical homes that I love. You can  just imagine as you drive up, the horses that used to come and tie up there… I have met many wonderful people there.

As of 2009, Zotts has enjoyed 150 years as Portola Valley’s hotspot…

A lot of history has passed through here… Zott’s is unique, it is the only Beergarden that has stayed one since it’s existence.

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