Despite Palo Alto’s ban on natural gas, José Andrés can cook with it at his new restaurant

 Jose Andres exits the restaurant Veselka with chef Olesia Lew.
Acclaimed chef José Andrés is opening the Eastern Mediterranean restaurant Zaytinya in Palo Alto.
(Brittainy Newman / Associated Press)

Chef José Andrés will get to cook with natural gas at his new restaurant in Palo Alto, despite a city ban.

After a legal kerfuffle, Andrés is poised to open his Eastern Mediterranean restaurant Zaytinya at the upscale Stanford Shopping Center with the gas appliances necessary to “achieve its signature, complex flavors,” the mall’s lawyers said.

City regulations banning new buildings from using natural gas went into effect at the beginning of 2023, putting the developer of the mall and Andrés’ restaurant in a bind. In a letter to the city attorney, lawyers for the Stanford Shopping Center wrote that “parts of the project were built or under construction when the city’s all-electric new construction rule went into effect.”


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The lawyers argued that “Zaytinya relies on traditional cooking methods” that could not work without gas. The letter included a threat: Without gas hookups and appliances, “Zaytinya will likely choose not to locate within the city.”

Palo Alto relented.

“Due to the years-long planning effort which started in 2019, three years before the city adopted the all-electric requirement, the city and the mall have agreed that this one project should be able to proceed with gas service consistent with the long-established project plans,” the city said in a news release, which made no mention of Andrés or his new restaurant.

With gas bans in cities across California taking effect, more restaurants could find themselves squeezed. In some cities, restaurants are exempted as a category.

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