Adriana Dominguez and Aaron Porter’s love story began with small businesses, and soon, they’ll be bringing a new business to downtown Los Altos – Tal Palo, a hybrid cafe and shop set to open at 149 Main St. in the coming months.
Years ago, Dominguez’s mother and brother owned a Mexican restaurant in Oakland, next door to where Porter was opening a bar.
“I would trade food for beer,” Dominguez recounted.
Porter chimed in, “Then, when (the bar) actually got open, she started coming in and we got to know each other.”
“The neighborhood way. The community way,” Dominguez said. “You meet your spouse, you meet your neighbor.”
After they got married, Dominguez and Porter moved with their young twins to Guadalajara to keep them in touch with their Mexican heritage on the Dominguez side. Eventually, Dominguez and Porter decided they wanted to open a small business together – to give their own children the experience they’d both had growing up as part of a family that owned a business (Porter’s father had a construction business).
When considering where to live as they moved back to the United States, the couple were drawn to Los Altos.
“We ended up here because of schools for the kids,” Porter said.
The family has bounced around the Peninsula from Palo Alto to Los Gatos but said Los Altos had a similar community feel to their hometown of Oakland.
Dominguez fell in love with downtown from riding her bike from their rental at the time to Main Street.
“I love it. … It feels like a neighborhood. It’s not a downtown,” she said. “That’s when I knew we should do it here.”
Tal Palo, the couple’s forthcoming “new baby,” is billed as a cafe and tienda (store), but Porter said he thinks of the venture as more than just a family-friendly business.
“It’s an extension of our living room,” he said. “We want people to come in and know us, and know them, and for our kids to be there and for them to know our kids.”
The couple said the restaurant-slash-store concept will not only fit well into downtown’s shopping district, but is also reminiscent of some of their favorite spots in Guadalajara.
“The menu will be reflective of what we eat at home,” said Dominguez, who added it promises to borrow from cafe culture in Mexico – so, don’t be surprised if you can order eggs until 2 or 3 p.m.
The cafe will be open primarily during the daytime to start, probably 9 a.m. until whenever their three kids finish school, but Porter hopes to have a bar program a few evenings a week.
Due to the extensive renovations needed to turn the former site of Davino Florist into a restaurant, Tal Palo isn’t scheduled to open until the fall; in the meantime, however, the restaurant is catering the Los Altos History Museum’s Rancho Day event May 28.