Remembering when fine dining reigned in Sharon Heights at the Velvet Turtle

by Linda Hubbard on July 12, 2019

Many longtime locals continue to mourn the loss of the Velvet Turtle in the Sharon Heights shopping center.  Opened in 1970 by Wally Botello, it was the first of 20 such restaurants spread around California. Purchased by the Marriott Corp. in 1986, who later sold it to a private investment group. The Menlo Park location, where CVS is now, closed in 1995.

We scoured the internet for a photo of the restaurant at the Sharon Heights location but came up empty. But it does live on through a Facebook page. The menu shown here is from 1978.

Our search for interior or exterior photos of the Menlo Park location did unearth a rather humorous (in our humble opinion) review of the Velvet Turtle in the Stanford Daily published in 1982, which could be considered its mid-heyday.

Wrote Adam Goodman and Jennifer King: “Take excellent food. Add a little convenience. Mix with plenty of good service. Then drown with an overdose of gaudy atmosphere.

“Dinner at the Velvet Turtle is a delicious culinary extravaganza. The menu is packed full of scrumptious choices to please even the pickiest palate. The restaurant is a welcome haven for any food connoisseur, but surely is not recommended for interior decorators.”

The reporting duo went on to note “the restaurant was crowded, but we probably saw only one other couple within 20 years of our age…Probably the most discouraging reason for students is the high price. Our dinner totaled $64 with tip.”

That’s about $170 in today’s dollars.

You can read the review in its entirety online in the Daily’s archive.



Andrea Smith July 17, 2019 at 5:26 pm

The Velvet Turtle was owned by Saga Corporation at 1 Saga Lane. It was dark as was other restaurants in the 70s. I worked at Saga so I know it was owned by that corporation. Saga was sold to Marriott much to the chagrin of the 3 founders, one of whom was Hunk Anderson, the owner of the largest collection of contemporary art west of the Mississippi.

Dolores (Dee) M. Lackey March 12, 2020 at 2:30 pm

When I worked at Safeway, (1970’s) Sharon Heights, Menlo Park, California, we would frequently dine at The Velvet Turtle for lunch. The food was delicious! The ribs were wonderful! When the waitress brought the salad, it was in a giant bowl. She would put the dressing (house) on and toss the salad and fill our bowls, leaving the remaining salad for us.
The whole experience was well worth the price!
After leaving the Bay Area, I never again saw Velvet Turtle restaurant.

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