So, I add my voice to the many who lament on Do You Remember the Old Menlo Park, that icons we grew up with are, in rather quick order, going, going, gone.

Yes, the building on the former Roger Reynolds property that once housed Edy’s Ice Cream is lovely and quaint, but the truth is I haven’t licked an ice cream cone there since the mid-60s. Sorry to see it go, but…

Foster's Freeze owners_LeesAnd there’s a part of me that wishes someone would bulldoze the shell of what was once Foster’s Freeze. It’s now a sad reminder of the great days spent there hanging out during high school. But for all the hue and cry when the owners (pictured right) announced they were retiring, most locals had not patronized the place in decades, even though they rushed to do so in the final month — a nice touch that must have been bittersweet for the Lees, who’d operated the franchise for three decades.

There’s that tendency to look back on Menlo Park in the 50s, 60s and early 70s and remember a kinder, calmer, easier place to live. But not all change is bad. Do any of us yearn for Jiffy Burger on El Camino instead of Cafe Borrone? And Fremont School was hardly a historical gem and much good work goes on in its location where Rosener House now stands.

But after today, there will be an irreplaceable void when Beltramo’s is no longer. In this case, it’s not about the building itself (you have to go way back to remember there used to be a bar in the back!) but the wonderful people within and the fabulous selection of competively-priced wine from all over the world. In retrospect, I, as I presume others in town did, took it for granted. [Side note: A burglar smashed a glass door and stole wine valued at $65,000 on July 14, according to the Almanac News.

Those who regarded it as an elite establishment for well-to-do residents of Menlo Park and Atherton, I doubt had ever stepped inside, found a clerk — our go-to guy was Gary Mulleneaux (pictured, top) — explained what they were looking for, and got pointed in the right direction at a price point within budget. And, oh the gems over the years, with my personal favorites the yearly shipments of French blush.

Like the Lees and Roger Reynolds’ owner Sally Halstead, I wish the Beltramos all the best in their retirement. All of these folks made their own decision to stop operating their businesses; no evil “big box whatever” forced them out. And to the staff at Beltramos, best of luck in their next ventures.

I just want them to know it’s the people, not the buildings, we do — and will — miss.

Photo of Gary Mulleneaux by Scott R. Kline (c) 2016; photo of the Lees by Susan Laird


Wine seller Gary Mulleneaux advises Beltramo’s customers for three decades

For over 30 years, Gary Mulleneaux has been providing expert — and personalized — advice to his loyal customers at Beltramo’s. So, it didn’t come as a surprise that folks were lining up to get his final recommendations before the store closes within the next month or so. What did surprise us is how he […]

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Beltramo’s will close doors, property to be sold

As reported by Barbara Woods on Almanac Online today, Beltramo’s, one of the few remaining Menlo Park landmark businesses, will be closing its doors and selling the property, which commenters suggest is worth more than the business itself. The owners are retiring. According to the book about Menlo Park, Beyond the Gate, the first Beltramo’s opened in […]

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“In the pink” bubblies for Valentines Day

Sparkling wines appear to leap from the shelves as Valentine’s Day approaches. We turn once again to long time Beltramo’s wine expert Gary Mulleneaux, who last offered “turkey day” selections, to provide recommendations for “hearts and flowers” day that go beyond the usual suspects of well-marketed brands and vintages. To keep things in the pink, […]

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Turkey Day Wine Picks from an Expert!

The what-wine-to-serve with the traditional Thanksgiving Day dinner – turkey and all the trimmings – is a topic that gets annual coverage in the media. But your InMenlo team is betting that few have a source better qualified to give suggestions than Gary Mulleneaux, who’s been trolling the wine aisles of Beltramo’s for 25 years. […]

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