José Andrés gets permission to use natural gas ban despite Palo Alto ban


A famed Silicon Valley city that banned natural gas in new construction last year will give celebrity chef José Andrés a dispensation after being threatened with a lawsuit.

Palo Alto, Calif., announced Tuesday that Andrés’ planned Mediterranean restaurant Zaytinya could use natural gas at the upscale Stanford Shopping Center.

The James Beard Award-winning restaurateur, author and culinary philanthropist applied for the project in 2019 and was approved for a gas line that a developer installed in 2021, according to Palo Alto Online.

When the city recently revised the building code and told the property group that the new eatery would have to be all-electric, Andrés’ lawyers claimed the new rules were “legally defective and unconstitutional” and threatened to sue the wealthy enclave, the report said.

In a letter to regulators, attorneys also noted that Zaytinya would depend on “traditional cooking methods that require gas appliances to achieve its signature, complex flavors,” and said the restaurant would be forced to “alter its signature five-star menu” under the new rules.

The gas will be on at José Andrés’ planned Palo Alto restaurant after the city agreed to give him an exception to its natural gas ban.
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“Zaytinya cannot compromise the caliber of its cuisine and reputation, and if [mall operator Simon Property Group] SPG cannot provide gas in Building EE, Zaytinya will likely choose not to locate within the City,” the letter said.

City lawmakers then agreed to a settlement that allowed the restaurant and the building it’s housed in — which is also set to house another eatery named Dumpling City — to use natural gas. Other buildings in the development would have to adhere to the new rules.

“Due to the yearslong 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,” officials said.

Andrés successfully argued his new project was grandfathered in under the city’s old rules and said he would not “compromise the caliber of” his “cuisine and reputation” by using electric stoves.
John Parra

New York recently became the first state in the US to ban gas stoves in new homes, a measure that Albany Republicans and the majority of state residents opposed.

Last month a federal appeals court overturned the nation’s first such ban in Berkeley, Calif., ruling that the city bypassed federal energy regulations when they approved it in 2020.

Environmentalists have championed such measures, arguing that they reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.

Andrés is no stranger to championing political issues on both sides of the aisle; the 53-year-old Spanish native made headlines in 2015 when he pulled out of a plan to open a restaurant in Donald Trump’s Washington, DC, hotel after the then-presidential candidate disparaged Mexican immigrants.

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