HOME

More Menlo Park memories get dusted off

by Linda Hubbard Gulker on December 8, 2012

Menlo Camera on Santa Cruz Ave in Menlo Park

Our post from Laura Pitchford who shared memories of downtown Menlo Park “back in the day” prompted a number of readers to email us. Here’s a sampling:

From Tricia Young:

“The first Round Table Pizza opened right there on El Camino where it is today, and an Italian man with thinning white hair would throw the pizza dough high over his head in the large front window!

“A & W Root Beer was where Jason’s is today on El Camino…Madam Marla Palm Reader next to the Red Carpet Car Wash (now Duckys)…Johnny’s Smoke Shop next to Fosters Freeze…Rosanne’s Dance Studio on El Camino.

“Alec’s, the first discount store ever on the Peninsula, is where the old Safeway used to be ( now a variety of shops since they put the new Safeway in). After school I would work at Alec’s in the wig department for a lady named Rena.”

parade on Santa Cruz Avenue in the 1950s

From Mary Kuechler:

“Remember Don’s Hobby Shop and Ingersoll Photography?  Building where Keplers/Cafe Borrone now stands. And of course, the old Keplers.

“How about the Menlo Cinema, which I think then became Su Hongs first location, now Left Bank?

“Nice that Ann’s Coffee Shop is still there.  Menlo Florist across from Preuss. Children’s Bootery, later that became that Swiss Bakery, now LB Steakhouse.

“Ah, thanks for the mentions of Menlo Camera and Toy & Party and the Pink Pastry. Stevens the fabric store was pretty awesome, and your story starter, Prein’s. Wow! Was Preins’ also the electronics store that sold the RCA TVs?

“The Hippo became the Gap, now the mattress store.

“Oh, and there was a great sporting good store over near the post office, where we used to get our swim team suits each year (now that physical therapy place)

“Draegers and the Wells Fargo seem to still anchor it all.  Oh, and when Applewood was Village Host Pizza.  Mmmm.

“Thanks for the memories!  What a GREAT little city.”

Santa Cruz Ave in the 1960s

From Carol Jorgenson Mince:

“My strongest [Menlo Park memory] on was when Joe Priens Record store tossed wooden nickels all over town. You found the right one and you got a free 45!   Then there were the great listening booths with the holey acoustical board on the walls.

“[Still remember] the polka dot paper from all the presents wrapped at Toy and Party… Anderson’s shoes, and of course Duca and Hanley groceries.. carnival in downtown Santa Cruz Ave.  Don’s Hobby shop near Menlo Station was where I bought my rubber spongy trees for my ‘mission’.”

Photos of downtown Menlo Park, Menlo Camera (top) and parade on Santa Cruz (middle), Santa Cruz Ave in the 1960s (bottom) courtesy of Menlo Park Historical Association

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Barbara December 8, 2012 at 6:09 pm

Don’t forget Jiffy Burger! Best little burger stand ever!

Reply

Lucy Foster April 18, 2014 at 8:58 am

Where was Jiffy Burger? I just loved their burgers and shakes!

Reply

rod pommes April 18, 2014 at 10:31 am

Lucy, that would be in the area just so. of Café Baronne, there was a little alley between what is now or was BBC and Don’s hobby shop and the Chevy used car lot on the corner of Ravenswood, also an arts and craft store. 19cent hamburgers in a yellow wrapper, good fries, way cheaper than Marquads and better parking, good old days for sure!!

Reply

JOHN MERCER April 18, 2014 at 2:35 pm

Jiffy Burger??? On El Camino / 1/2 block south of Santa Cruz Ave.

Remember Fries: 11 cents / Burger 24 Cents!!! Get a great bag of grease for a couple of bucks!!!!

Reply

Richard Sumner December 10, 2012 at 5:54 pm

I lived in Menlo Park from 1944 to 1960, and then moved on to Palo Alto. But just wanted to say that I knew Joe Prein–he was a great guy, very nice to me. He sold me my first television set in 1960, and we used to go in there and play records. As a teenager, I worked at the Sunshine Market, shown in your photo. I also remember Ciardella’s Market, Consumer’s Market, Ducca and Hanley, Menlo Hardware when it was on the corner of Santa Cruz and El Camino, and I well remember Ann, of Ann’s Coffee Shop(boom-boom!) There was Derry’s Feed and Fuel on Oak Grove, Jerry’s store for Men, Mrs. Minor’s Bakery, Menlo House across from Johnny’s Smoke shop, around the corner from the Menlo Funeral home which faced the train station. Sprouse Reitz, and believe it or not, there was a bar called “The Bucket of Blood” at the lower part of Santa Cruz Avenue, across from the train station! The old police station became the British Banker’s Club, East West Books was on that same stretch before they moved to El Camino and then Mountain View, and Whole Earth Catalog. Central School became Rector Cadilac, Borden’s Creamery, and the Park Theater when it was a vacant lot. Oh Boy, I could go on and on!

Reply

Jym December 11, 2012 at 4:40 pm

Somewhere I’ve heard that before Bill Larson opened his first Round Table Pizza (1959?), he worked across El Camino in another restaurant making pizzas. Does anyone know the name of that place and it’s exact location?

I came to Menlo Park in 1975 when the Menlo Cinema was still operating. It’s entrance was on Doyle St. Next door on Santa Cruz was a small Chinese Restaurant called Yueng Yang, which had a handy 2nd entrance from the rear parking lot. Eventually the restaurant owners acquired the theater and rebuilt it into a grand Yueng Yang Restaurant, keeping the old smaller space for their take out operation. Su Hong’s, which opened on El Camino some time in the 1980s, was never at the Menlo Cinema location. After the Yueng Yang owners retired, the theater building was again rebuilt, this time as Left Bank. The original Yueng Yang space next door is now Harvest Furniture.

Reply

mp native December 12, 2012 at 8:12 am

Not as old a memory as the rest, but Shaw’s Ice Cream Parlor was where Applewood to go is now — gave out free ice cream on John Naber Day- olympic swimmer. He flew in on a helicopter, landed at Burgess.

Reply

Jym December 14, 2012 at 11:01 am

A couple days ago I was talking to a couple old-timers, friends, who grew up in Menlo Park. They both remember that before he opened his first Round Table Pizza (the one here in Menlo Park), Bill Larson was driving a delivery truck for Coca Cola. This doesn’t explain where Larson learned to make pizzas.

Reply

Harry Smith March 5, 2013 at 5:54 am

Lived at 1142 Chestnut St 1940-47. During labor shortage during war, delivered mail downtown route and two other bicycle routes. Worked for John Rodriguez at Menlo Garage. Mrs Giardelli saw a newspaper picture of Marines at Guadalcanal and swore one was her son. Sold War Savings Bond stamps while in 8th grade at Central every Thursday morning. We had a large chart of a B-17 bomber and colored it in as we collected money. Many memories including Japanese family who lived next to us in duplex who were shipped off to relocation camp. But, at the time, anyone resembling a Japanese was risking life and limb being seen in public.

Reply

Gen X March 28, 2013 at 12:39 am

Joe Prein passed away in the mid eighties but I still have those famous wooden nickels to this day, it is good to hear what they were used for- thanks Carol.

Reply

JOHN MERCER March 28, 2013 at 4:42 pm

I lived in Menlo Park from 1953-2007!
I had a Paper Route (M.P. Recorder) and once a week
would get my “Pay Envelope” and head directly to McFarlanes
Ice Cream!
Remember Plaza Days”? When they completed a parking lot
the town would put on a Carnival on Santa Cruz Avenue – I was on on plane ride, and trying to get it to go faster (?) took a big chip out of my front tooth-
confirmed when I ran into Sprouts-Ritz (sp?) to look in a mirror!
Great town to grow up in!!!!

Reply

Bob Hadeler March 28, 2013 at 7:04 pm

I lived in Menlo Park from 1950 to 1965. As mentioned before by many, a great place to grow up. I would get my clothes at Van de Sands, hang out at Meno Cyclery. Both on Santa Cruz Ave. Although the name escapes me, remember the sporting good store?

Reply

Rod Pommes March 29, 2013 at 12:19 pm

Sporting goods store, Shreves was on Oak grove ave. Jerry’s store for men had the best cloths.

Reply

JOHN MERCER March 29, 2013 at 5:45 pm

HAD!!!! Shreves – on Oak Grove???????? You could get anything there!!!!

Reply

JOHN MERCER March 29, 2013 at 5:46 pm

HAD!!!! Shreves – on Oak Grove???????? You could get anything there!!!! YO!

Reply

Leslie McLaren March 30, 2013 at 2:02 pm

Thank you Patty Wagner for forwarding me this site! Hey to all the familiar Menlo ittes…or however you spell Menlo Park folks! Hi to Linda who lived what, five doors down? from us on Hillview Drive? I’m having lunch with Linda Cahn and Bea Cahn and Pat Porter on Tuesday…how’s that for a blast from the past? Yep, Shreve’s was the BEST as was it Hirzels where all the id bracelets came from?

Reply

Larry Roberts August 23, 2013 at 9:03 pm

I’m the son of Denny David Roberts, he was a police officer in Menlo Park California around 1968 to about 1972, if anyone has any photos or newspaper articles I would appreciate it.

Reply

Philip Peters August 18, 2014 at 8:27 am

Hello all I’d like to invite you to join my facebook page “Do you remember the old Menlo Park”. Please log onto facebook and join us! This is the direct link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/280701541973554/

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: