The Oasis in Menlo Park is closing

By the Daily Post staff

After decades in business, the Oasis Beer Garden at 241 El Camino Real in Menlo Park is closing, according to an announcement on the restaurant’s Facebook page.

The kitchen area of the Oasis was busy tonight. Post photo.
The kitchen area of the Oasis was busy tonight. Post photo.

The Tougas Family, which owns a number of similar restaurants in the South Bay, said that after several months of efforts, they were unable to negotiate a “reasonable lease for our business nor meet the requested terms of the building’s owner.”

The building is owned by the Beltramo family. The Post is attempting to contact the Beltramos for comment.

“Therefore, we have made the very difficult decision to close our doors and bid farewell to the endearing community of Menlo Park and Stanford University,” the statement from the Oasis said.

They said their last day of business will be March 7.

Reaction on Facebook was quick and intense.

“Such a shame,” wrote David Vinokur. “The O was the after-party place for the Stanford/Menlo Park/Palo Alto folk dance scene for many decades. Took my folks there in their fainal years, and more lately with my family. Frustrating that Menlo Park property owners don’t place more of a premium on the ‘local landmark

Nearly every seat was filled tonight at the Oasis. People were enjoying pizza, burgers and beer. The Olympics was on the TV in the background. Post photo.

‘ status. Maybe there’s more to the story, but it’s a crying shame. Simple as that.”

“I am shocked, actually,” said Susy Varian Hammond. “The Oasis was such a landmark for Stanford students and young people all over the Peninsula. I wish the owners well and send curses to the landlords who wouldn’t grant a new reasonable lease.”

“Nooooooo! I’ve been coming here since I was 2. So sad,” wrote Jack Herrell.

“This is so terrible,” wrote Bess Kennedy. “My dad worked as a dishwasher at the Oasis in the ‘60s, and we grew up going there for ‘the best burgers in town.’ Now with kids of my own, it’s our go-to spot for burgers (and beers for the parents). So sad.”

The entrance to the Oasis. Post photo by Emily Mibach.
The entrance to the Oasis. Post photo by Emily Mibach.

Mary Schley wrote, “I can’t even imagine a world without the Oasis!” She said her parents met at Stanford in the 1960s and often went to the O when they were dating.

The Tougas family also owns The Garrett in Campbell, The Garrett Station in Los Gatos and the Jake’s Restaurants in Saratoga and Sunnyvale. The late Bernie Tougas and his wife Doris started the chain of homey pizza, burger and beer joints.

Alex Beltramo opened the Oasis in 1933. The Beltramos leased the space to the Tougas family starting in 1958.

The Tougas family also owned the Boardwalk on El Camino in Los Altos. It closed on June 4, 2014, after they were unable to negotiate a new lease with their landlord, RKT Group LLC, which said at that time it wanted to redevelop the space.

UPDATE 9:12 p.m.: Marianne Vernacchia of the Tougas family emailed the following letter to the Post tonight:

To all of our loyal customers and to the greater Menlo Park and Palo Alto community,

It is with heavy heart that we announce the closing of our beloved bar and restaurant, The Oasis at 271 El Camino Real. After several months of effort, we were unable to negotiate a reasonable lease for our business, nor meet the requested terms of the building’s owner. Therefore, we have made the very difficult decision to close our doors, and bid farewell to the endearing community of Menlo Park and Stanford University. Our last day of business will be March 7.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of The Oasis, and it has been an honor to have been here as a member of your community since 1958. The “O” is our first establishment and is near and dear to our hearts. We have many wonderful memories to cherish of those who made our restaurant special, including our extremely loyal “regulars,” Stanford University faculty and guests, the wonderful neighborhood families, and even those who traveled to visit us for a burger. We want to express our warmest appreciation to all of the wonderful customers who passed through our doors. Your love is engraved in our many tables and booths. Thank you for sitting down in our beer garden to have a beer with us, cracking open some peanuts, carving up our tables with your first loves, playing some pinball, and filling our restaurant with your children and children’s children. We are so grateful to have shared these past 60 years with you!

We wish the entire Menlo Park and Stanford community continued success, and look forward to building more memories with you at one of our other locations: The Garret in Campbell, The Garret Station in Los Gatos, or Jake’s of Saratoga, Sunnyvale or Willow Glen.

Sincerely,

The Tougas Family

Tougas Enterprises Inc.

Pick up the Post for more on this story.

 

 

 

27 Comments

  1. Lots of family memories happened at that place. Even though it was a “bar” i remember going to lots of kids birthday parties there. The food was good, tho not fancy. It was a beer joint after all. Tragedy this is happening.

  2. Instead of inviting readers to write about their fond recollection of one of the few community gathering spots that endured over time, you should encourage them to find a way to prioritize a sustained minimum level of protected community benefits over property rights. Should the building owners envision a new and different formula for a food/drink establishment that mimics the contribution of the Oasis, then I am satisfied. If not, then I am appalled. All of the ineffective plazas in new construction and tax income from commercial development will NEVER equate to the loss of a family/sports team/bonding establishment like the Oasis. In the case where it is to be turned into something other than what it is, the building owner will be acting in a manner that, in my opinion, is as socially destructive and equal to all of the “divisive bad news” to which we cringe while we watch/read. It is only through comfortable, repetitive social engagement such as being in the crowded Oasis or Dutch Goose or Malibu Grand Prix or bowling alley, etc that our actions towards others will make us a community and translate to behavior that rebuilds our country. We need to celebrate and protect that. We are allowing our social fabric to be torn apart one popular gathering spot at a time. If the owner thought of the ownership of the Oasis building as only a financial investment ripe for conversion to a higher-rate-of-return whatever and the current operators wished to continue doing business, the City of Menlo Park needed to step in and assert a different value system, for once and specifically on this occasion. If the owners are wealthy, they should sense a philanthropic duty to keep it open, up to the point that the loss is equal to their other charitable expenses. If they are not wealthy, they should weigh the overall situation and sell it to someone who would keep it open indefinitely for the “off-the-books” value it creates, which is not measured in dollars. Otherwise, the owners should watch the news and truly take ownership of the return on their investment.

    • While I’m just as sad about losing Oasis (been going there for over a decade), what you suggest here does not make sense. Whether you like it or not, it is althe inalienable right of the property holder. You should buy the space and lease it to the Oasis folks at submarket rents if you feel charitable; forcing the Beltramos to do it is not fair (nor legal, nor moral).

      I don’t know the Beltramos; I have seen the Oasis folks around for more than a decade, so I feel really sad that I won’t be able to go to this excellent joint.

      But the suggestions contained in your comment here is fundamentally in conflict with…well…capitalism.

  3. This will probably be replaced with some sterile, look alike office building. The companies that lease those offices want to be in a vibrant, interesting community. When they take out places like the Oasis, they make this community less attractive to these companies. Eventually they’ll say, “why not locate in Fremont, my people don’t care.” And then the value of these office buildings go down. It’s a self-defeating strategy.

  4. I wonder how “unreasonable” the request from the Beltramos was. Oasis couldn’t have made up for the rent hike by raising menu prices?

    Can one of the billionaires just but this place and keep it open? So sad!

  5. The “O” was the after game spot for our local softball team in 1953! Some of us (Miles Johnson, Dan Johnson, Dick Hays, Ron Plough, Tony Hodge) will be meeting for a “last lunch” tomorrow! R.I.P.

  6. I see in the Post this morning that the Beltramo claim they’re not going to redevelop this site … I hope council holds them to their word by slapping a historic designation on the building to prevent them from tearing it down. I don’t trust the Beltramo, especially after something like this.

  7. I was introduced to the Oasis by a fellow I was doing some work for in Menlo Park while I was going to Stanford. I was so impressed that all types of people were there including professors from Stanford. Several of my sons worked there over the years, it will be sorely missed.

  8. So the Beltramos are “greedy” for wanting to maximize the return on one of their investments? The next time one of you decides to sell your house, tell your broker to list it for $500K less than the value and to not allow any bidding wars. It’s the cost of housing that drives everything, so if you want to keep places like Oasis around, start there.

    Anyone willing to step forward and commit to not getting the maximum for their house? I’m not and as such, I have to be and am willing to accept that aspects of this community that I enjoy may be forced out as the prices spiral up. All I can do is patronize said aspects and hope that they draw enough additional business to continue on.

    • We have a rental property that we lease grad students and young professionals just starting out for about 40% below market rate. We do that because we have enough money to live a comfortable life, can see a doctor when we get sick, and can take vacations several times a year.

      Most people in this country are not as lucky as we are to live this lifestyle.

      For most of the history of our country (minus the robber baron era), we enjoyed a shared values based on the idea that we are all in it together. Since the promotion of greed as an acceptable and even admirable value starting in the 1980’s, more and more people have adopted an “every man for himself” ideology. This way of interacting with the world leads to massive inequality and injustice such as we are seeing now.

      So, yes, I am willing to realize less than the maximum value of my property for the greater good and I encourage everyone else that is able to do the same. We are all in it together.

  9. Call the Menlo Park City Council and ask them to make the Oasis a historic Landmark

    Peter I. Ohtaki – Mayor 650-328-0300
    Ray Mueller – Mayor Pro Tem 650-776-8995
    Catherine Carlton – Council member 650-575-4523
    Richard Cline – Council member 650-207-1677
    Kirsten Keith – Council member 650-308-4618

  10. has anyone contacted the beltramos bunch directly? seems like a lot of wailing and no action. if all of the locals and the folks remember the place so fondly would band together, problem solved!! burgers and beer serve again!!!

  11. The Post’s print story on Thursday quoted Diana Beltramo Hewitt as saying her family has no plans to redevelop the site and that they were looking for a new restaurant to go into the location. The story also said that the Planning Department hadn’t received any applications for that address, though there had been some inquiries about what’s allowed under the zoning there.

    The unanswered question is how much of a rent increase did the Beltramos demand?

  12. Who owns the Oasis name? Old man Alex Beltramo apparently named the place that before the current operators of the restaurant started in 1959. If Diana Beltramo Hewitt is being honest when she says her family is looking for a new restaurant operator, maybe the new guys could run the same kind of restaurant under the same name???

  13. More housing for foreigners i.e. china, india, and russia and then more of them driving on our roads and causing accidents. No wonder all of my native friends have sold their homes and moved away. It’s the new white flight but it’s not whites that are moving it’s everyone regardless of race who is native to the area that are sick of being an american born minority.

  14. I left Palo Alto and now live in Tempe, AZ … which I love. Why? The same greed that caused the Beltramos to rent-gouge the Oasis out of business rent-gouged me and many friends out of town. The Bay Area, once the home of poets and philosophers is now a playground exclusively for techies and realtors. Real social diversity has died in the mid-Peninsula.

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