Menlo Park's Bistro Vida celebrated as small business of the year

Almanac News
By Sara Hayden

Bistro Vida in Menlo Park has been recognized as the 13th Senate District's Small Business of the Year. The bistro has been much more than a place to eat. Especially during the pandemic, it's become a place for people to gather outdoors.

"We're different, very homey. You feel like this is your neighborhood place, where you would like to come hang out. When you come in, everyone knows each other. It's like (the TV show) 'Cheers' - the homey place for everybody," owner Ali El Safy says...

Bistro Vida is one of the countless local businesses that changed operations in light of COVID-19. The team sought to develop amenities for the community, protective equipment for the staff and permitting to develop a parklet. The parklet reflects the detail that El Safy envisioned for the interior of the restaurant, incorporating chandeliers, black and white images of bridges and the Sacré-Coeur Basilica in Paris, and tables from the south of France, inspired by the country he lived in after emigrating from Alexandria, Egypt. Then El Safy invited a friend to play music, and things took off from there.

"Community spirit is part of Bistro Vida’s DNA. That’s been clear since Ali opened its doors in 1998. Thanks to that unflagging spirit and Ali’s leadership, Bistro Vida not only met the challenges of the pandemic, the restaurant and its owner also helped keep the vibrancy of Menlo Park’s downtown alive,” Senator Josh Becker wrote in a prepared statement.