New proposal for old hofbrau: Foster City hopes hotel will promote new restaurants

Foster City’s closed Harry’s Hofbrau location is adjacent to the former Black Angus steakhouse which is now the site of the future five-story, 121-room TownePlace Suites, Extended Stay Hotel at 1299 Chess Drive.

With two longtime Foster City restaurants closed, officials hope a soon-to-be constructed hotel will be able to support a proposed restaurant center and enable it to compete with the neighboring Bridgepointe Shopping Center.

Harry’s Hofbrau, at 1297 Chess Drive, closed earlier this year and the developer is proposing to tear down the current 9,000-square-foot building and construct a 11,000- to 12,500-square-foot retail and restaurant space with about 600 square feet of outdoor seating, said Community Development Director Curtis Banks.

The Harry’s Hofbrau location is adjacent to the former Black Angus steakhouse, now the site of the future five-story, 121-room TownePlace Suites, Extended Stay Hotel at 1299 Chess Drive.

The city has long struggled to maintain a successful retail presence with San Mateo’s neighboring and popular Bridgepointe Shopping Center nearby. However, councilmembers are hopeful these two new developments will serve each other.

“Nobody would know where Bridegpointe and San Mateo ends and where Foster City begins. Not too many people know there’s a boundary right next door,” Councilman Art Kiesel said. “A restaurant (at the Harry’s site) will be able to compete with Bridgepointe better than one on the south side of (State Route) 92 because … with the extended stay hotel it gives them a place to go eat that’s just a short walk. It’d be the closest restaurant there so they’d almost have a captive market.”

On May 2, property owner Solomon Tsai of 1297 Chess Restaurant Group, Inc., turned in a pre-application to the city requesting an amendment to the general plan for Vintage Park, the 132-acre area that includes the proposed development site.

Per the city’s new code amendment, projects requiring zoning or general plan amendments go before the City Council and public for input prior to a developer spending time and money on a formal application. This project will be reviewed Monday, June 23, Banks said.

The developer wants the flexibility to chose which store or restaurant would fill the site based on the market, according to a staff report. However, it has suggested about 8,000 square feet be designated for sit-down as well as fast casual dining and the remainder be filled by retail and service shops such as mobile phone store or a bank, according to a city staff report.

Tsai received approval for Extended Stay hotel around September, 2013, according to a city staff report. Around that time, the owners of the Harry’s Hofbrau site questioned the adequacy of a document relative to the environmental review of the 1299 site, according to the report.

Tsai then purchased the Harry’s site on April 8, 2014. Tsai did not return a request for comment.

Councilman Herb Perez said the Harry’s Hofbrau was outdated and the hotel will need to help support a future development.

“For me, it’s quite frankly in the middle of nowhere relative to everything else that’s going on there. It’s in essence, kind of a lost space. It’s not really a well-trafficked road,” Perez said. “If they have something that’s creative, that they could generate revenue and if it’s supported by the hotels, than that’s a creative use.”

Due to the influx of 2,000 to 3,000 new employees expected from the expansion of the Gilead Sciences campus, hotels are bound to be busy, Perez said.

With the new Extended Stay hotel directly next door, those who visit will undoubtedly need places to eat or services that could be provided if the site is redeveloped, Perez said.

Councilman Steve Okamoto said the restaurants would be easily accessible to the city’s growing tech companies.

“It’s also close enough for some of the folks who work at Visa and Gilead types of business where they’re going to have an opportunity to eat and spend money in Foster City,” Okamoto said.

Based on the proposal, the new development would need to provide about 141 parking spaces and the plans indicate the necessary parking cannot be provided on site. However, it’s anticipated the restaurant and hotel could share parking due to varying demand times. Both sites also have the potential to access off-site parking, according to the report.

The City Council will hold a public hearing on the proposal to redevelop the 1297 Chess Drive site 6:30 p.m. on Monday, June 23 at City Hall, 620 Foster City Blvd. For more information visit

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