Thursday, December 31, 2015

New Year's Eve 2015 At the Market!

Once again the San Pedro Square Market is hosting a free New Year's Event! This year the theme is Star Wars and costumes are highly encouraged. All ages are welcome.

Music will be provided by Groovy Judy (info below). There will be specialty Star Wars-themed cocktails all night such as Vader-Ade, Yoda Soda, and Qui-Gon Gin & Tonic. At midnight the Market will be doing a balloon drop.

The festivities start at 9pm and the Market will be open until 1am.

More on Groovy Judy | Hendrix inspired Funk Rock: Groovy Judy is one of the “top” female guitarists and entertainers in the The Bay Area. Influenced by great artists such as Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles and Sly and The Family Stone, her style and energy equals some of today’s most-known artists. Her stellar guitar playing, inspirational lyrics, colorful dress, and upbeat personality help people smile and feel good about themselves. She performs all over The Bay Area and beyond. With her band she always puts on an upbeat, positive show that gets people up and dancing.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

San Jose Bike-Sharing Program is Getting a HUGE Expansion

Earlier this month the city council unanimously approved a dramatic expansion in San Jose's bike-sharing program. The current system has 16 stations filled with 130 light blue bikes that can be rented and dropped off at any other station in the network. 15 of those stations are in Downtown San Jose and one is in Japantown.

The expansion will bring 100 bike stations to San Jose and a whopping 1,000 bikes! That is close to an eight-fold increase over the current program. With that many stations and bikes, hopefully more people will get out of their cars and give the system a test run.

It gets better--the expansion will cost the city nothing. Motivate (the vendor providing the stations and bikes) will self-fund the program through corporate sponsorships and user fees that will range from $60-149 per year (for unlimited 30 minute rentals).

Several other Bay Area cities are getting stations and bikes, such as Oakland, Emeryville, and Berkeley. However, several cities that were part of the original Bay Area Bike Share pilot program will not be offered a free pass like San Jose was. Palo Alto, Mountain View, and Redwood City did not get enough riders to justify either an expansion or having Motivate self-fund the program. They will either have to pay to keep their bikes or choose a different program entirely. That really would be a shame because a membership in the San Jose program also gets you access to bikes in the other cities that also participate in Bay Area Bike Share.

Source: SVBJ

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Roots and Rye Restaurant Review

Roots and Rye (R&R) is one of the newest Santana Row restaurants. It's tucked in next to Maggiano's and Kara's Cupcakes in a space that previously housed Roux Louisiana Kitchen and Hot Tamales. I'm not a big fan of the decor, which makes the whole restaurant look like it is still under construction. However, I hear that they are going to run plants and vegetation on those exposed wood pillars which would provide a unique effect. Like their sister restaurants Straights and Sino, they have a unique restroom that is partially unisex--might as well get that out of the way now so that there are no awkward surprises ;).

They have an impressive outdoor patio space with plenty of heat lamps. R&R also features live music on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. A nice Jazz band was playing while we dined there the second time around.

So now, let's get to the good stuff... the food. They recently changed their menu to focus more on small, shareable plates that are available all day. They still have some main courses that are available after 5pm. R&R also has a long list of unique craft cocktails and bourbons.


Parmesan Fries with a 63 degree egg, fines herbs, truffle aioli - This is their signature small plate and an absolute must-try. You can either dunk the fries into the egg, or pour the egg on top of the parmesan fries. I could eat this all day.

Brussel Sprouts with parmesan, capers, red wine vinegar - Brussel sprouts are usually not my favorite side to order, but these were outstanding. The lemon zest and capers added an extra kick and help make this a perfect addition to your meal.

Roasted bone marrow with red wine braised short rib, potato pepper crostini, pickled radish - When foie gras became illegal in California, bone marrow turned into my new go-to for some extra indulgence on special occasions. The presentation, flavor, and portion size of R&R's bone marrow were all impressive. However, I will say that the first time I dined here there was foie gras on the menu, and it was excellently prepared. If I had the choice, I would go with the foie gras over bone marrow any day of the week.


Fried Petaluma Chicken with house-made apple sauce, brussel leaves, mustard caviar, pickled vegetables, apple cider jus - Excellent chicken with crispy skin exploding with flavor. They nailed this dish and the accompaniments.

Beef Short Rib with potato puree, caramelized roots, charred leeks, red wine jus - This dish was just okay. It was standard fare for short rib and did not blow my away like the chicken. I would have rather ordered two more small plates instead of this, which seem to be R&R's strong suit.


Fried Apple Pie with honey crisp apples, roasted quince, creme fraiche ice cream, cider reduction - Save some room for dessert, and order this! If you like apple pie, this dessert will not disappoint.

Candy Bar Tart with chocolate ganache, salted caramel, spanish peanut nougatine ice cream, sazerac caramel sauce, huckleberry compote - This is their most popular dessert and was my wife's favorite. It tastes like all of the candy bars you craved as a child melted into one.

Roots and Rye Affogato with house spun fennel ice cream, almond anise biscotti - A much better alternative that just ordering coffee at the end of your meal. I really enjoyed the cappuccino-soaked ice cream and biscotti. The coffee was a little bit too bitter for my tastes, but a regular coffee drinker should love this.


Churchill Downs (bourbon whiskey, strawberry aquavit, lemon, green cardamom, fever tree ginger beer) - This is one of their signature cocktails and had a very unique flavor that is difficult for me to describe. It was like drinking a flower. This is light enough on the alcohol for either gender to enjoy. This was my wife's favorite.

Goldenrod (terroir gin, herbal liquor, lemon chrysanthemum honey, absinthe, rosemary) - The taste here was even more unique than the Churchill Downs. The combination of flavors actually made this taste kind of like sawdust, which pairs well with the decor. I couldn't resist drinking this since it was so different, but wouldn't recommend it to most people.

Barrel Aged Old Fashioned (bourbon whiskey, bitters, demerara sugar) - I'm a bit of an Old Fashioned snob since this is my favorite cocktail in general and this is the only cocktail that I can reproduce at home. R&R uses Buffalo Trace, which has a bit of a bite to it but I would expect nothing less from a traditional Old Fashioned. This is the cocktail that I would order first in the future.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Del Carlo Documentary

Tom Wohlmut from WMS Media has a special holiday treat for everyone today, a full-length documentary on one of San Jose's most famous photographers. Arnold Del Carlo photographed San Jose from World War II to the Valley of Heart's Delight to Silicon Valley. There are very few people in the world that have been alive throughout all three of these eras, let alone photographed them. The story is told by Del Carlo himself though interviews conducted when he was 93 and 94 years old.

At one point Del Carlo even purchased his own plane and became skilled at taking aerial photos across the valley. He has shot iconic photos of people, buildings, landscapes, and even some of the first electronics made in Silicon Valley (especially IBM products).

The photos and stories are incredible. Every San Josean should watch this!

Del Carlo - Professional Photographer from WMS media Inc. on Vimeo.

San Jose State University

Hart's Department Store in Downtown San Jose

Downtown San Jose Aerial

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Visit San Jose Promo Video

I just ran across this 90 second video below that highlights a lot of local (mostly San Jose) attractions in a very short period of time. Check it out for yourself!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Saturday Stats: San Jose is the 7th Best Place to Own a Home in America

A new survey conducted by Porch and Redfin ranked San Jose as the 7th best city in the US to own a home. They looked at a variety of factors such as health, education, economy, walkability, safety, and traffic. Note that this study is based on people's opinions and not objective metrics.

San Jose scored very highly in healthy living (#2), climate (#5), educational opportunity (#8), and walkability (#4). All of those sound about right to me except for walkability as there are only specific neighborhoods that have high walk scores.

The lowest scores were commute (#22), and I expected lower on this one, real estate confidence (#65), and security & safety (#29). Again these are people's perceptions. I would disagree with the safety ranking as statistically San Jose is one of the safest large cities in the world.

The biggest surprise was that economic opportunity only ranked #15. By any objective criteria this should easily be #1 for the country.

Overall, San Francisco ranked #47 on the list while New York can in at #26. For the full list hit the link below.

Source: Porch

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

We sincerely hope that you and your family enjoy the holidays this year!

For a fun little adventure, you can check out the most decked out holiday decorations in San Jose along with a map and addresses over here. The site even allows you to plan a route to visit multiple homes.

May all your holiday wishes come true this year!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

San Jose Downtown Association 2015 Year in Review

The video below is an excellent recap of what has happened in Downtown San Jose this past year, current challenges, and what we have to look forward to in the near future. The speaker is Scott Knies, the Executive Director of the San Jose Downtown Association. There is no question that 2015 was a banner year for Downtown San Jose, and it is just the beginning!

Source: Cardinal2007 from the San Jose Development Forum

Scott Knies - San Jose Downtown Association 2015 in Review from WMS media Inc. on Vimeo.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

December 2015 Downtown Dimension Highlights

Here are my notes from the latest edition of Downtown Dimension:
  • The St. James Park Management District is going to provide new funding for additional security, maintenance, and programming at St. James Park. Potential improvements include adding a cafe, dog run, or music venue.
  • Downtown Ice is open at the Circle of Palms through February 7th. Hours are 11am until midnight on most days. Across the street is Christmas in the Park and Winter Wonderland.
  • Jade Leaf Eatery is now open at 170 S. Market Street, specializing in Japanese noodles. It also has a stage large enough to accommodate bands and Jazz concerts.
  • Deluxe is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner at 71 E. San Fernando.
  • Sushi Confidential is coming soon to 31 N. Market, Social Policy (same owners at B2 Coffee) is coming to the former Blackbird Tavern Space, and Pieology is coming to the former Fahrenheit space.
  • Petzi is the latest startup to set up shop Downtown. They make a smart camera and treat dispenser for pets.
  • Corterie has remodeled a 5,000 SQFT space behind Whole Foods into an urban wine cellar and tasting room.
  • SiliconSage Builders broke ground last month on a 100-unit condo project at 180 Balbach Street in SoFA, replacing an old used-car lot.
  • A new 140-foot-long mural has been finished in Fountain Alley on the side of the Lido Nightclub.
  • DASH ridership has had its strongest ridership month in seven years (this is the free shuttle that circles Downtown and Diridon station).
To read the newsletter, click here!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Knight Foundation Donating Over $1 Million to San Jose Projects!

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation has decided to donate over $1,000,000 to projects that will benefit San Jose. The top priorities were projects that will help with branding and identity, transforming public spaces, and helping the next generation of emerging leaders.

A total of 15 projects were funded. Some are quite interesting such as a new prototyping festival along Paseo de San Antonio, a pop-up park at Plaza de Cesar Chavez, and a new food and community hub at the Taylor Street urban farm. Below is the full list of projects.

Grant Recipients
  • California Walks ($30,000): Encouraging deeper resident attachment to San Jose by launching San Jose Walks, a program that encourages urban exploration and celebrates neighborhoods through walking.
  • City of San Jose, Department of Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood Services ($150,000): Helping to improve public spaces in San Jose through a "Parks Activation and Prototyping Fund" that will allow people to experiment with new ways to use parks.
  • City of San Jose, Office of Economic Development ($125,000): Launching a branding and marketing campaign to attract talented workers, create jobs and bring new opportunities to the city.
  • Exhibition District ($20,000): Creating a more vibrant and connected San Jose by expanding the Exhibition District, a public art project.
  • Garden to Table ($60,000): Creating a food and community hub at Taylor Street Farm that will include events, workshops and market days, while supporting local food producers and suppliers.
  • Groundswell Design ($75,000): Creating a pop-up park at Plaza Cesar Chavez that aims to transform an underused space into a vibrant and engaging public area.
  • Local Label ($48,958): Launching a citywide competition to create and promote new branding opportunities for San Jose developed by teams of local artisans and makers.
  • National Arts Strategies ($30,000): Supporting a group of San Jose Creative Community Fellows through a nine-month fellowship program focused on creative placemaking.
  • Opportunity Fund ($75,000): Helping Downtown San Jose's small businesses (particularly restaurants and retail) comply with EMV chip requirements, a standard for credit card and debit card payments, through a merchant equipment subsidy program.
  • San Jose State University ($240,000): Developing a more vibrant and connected San Jose with the launch of a prototyping festival along Paseo de San Antonio, a series of Ed talks, an artists-in-residence program and new activities at the Hammer Theatre.
  • School at Mexican Heritage Plaza ($10,800): Connecting people and increasing civic participation by launching ImagineSJ, a monthly event and panel discussion focusing on San Jose's arts and cultural scene.
  • Silicon Valley DeBug/NEEBA ($30,000): Creating a "We are San Jose" video series to share the dynamic and diverse neighborhoods and communities of San Jose.
  • Sustainable Agriculture Education ($35,000): Supporting research, analysis and reporting focused on developing ways to connect and grow the city's food ecosystem.
  • Somos Mayfair ($21,280): Helping people get more involved in shaping their community through Mayfair Community Mini-Grants that will invite local Mayfair residents to develop innovative ideas to make their community better while introducing them to local decision-making and budgeting.
  • Transform ($100,000): Supporting more affordable and transportation-friendly housing by creating tools and traffic reduction strategies as part of GreenTRIP, a green building certification program for new residential, mixed-use development.
Source: The Merc

Monday, December 21, 2015

Google Signs Another North San Jose Lease!

Google is finally stepping up to the plate and joining Apple in acquiring commercial space in North San Jose. The company leased two buildings at the corner of North First Street and Trimble (2600 North First Street and 75 E. Trimble Road). This will give Google 174,000 SQFT, a rounding error compared to their Mountain View Campus.

This is actually their second San Jose lease. Google's first San Jose location was 40,000 SQFT at 2460 North First Street. That was just a dipping their toe in the water. Now they have both feet in and could potentially jump in for a swim. Google is going to need far more space than what Mountain View can provide. If San Jose proves to be a good partner for them, it will mean much larger investments in the future.

Keep in mind that Google is just one piece of parent company called Alphabet. There are many other great companies under that umbrella that could use offices located in the Golden Triangle with easy access to manufacturing facilities and semiconductor fabs (Nest, I'm looking at you).

Source: SVBJ

Apple Buys Another Building in North San Jose

It seems like Apple can't get enough of North San Jose this year. They have made yet another purchase, this time for a 70,000 SQFT former chip fab at 3725 N. First Street. It was previously used as a manufacturing facility for a semiconductor company called Maxim Integrated Products. What Apple will do with the space is anyone's guess. It seems too small to manufacture anything that Apple would put in their products, but could be used as a test lab. Perhaps Apple will tear it down to build a new facility. Either way, it is nice to see Apple continue to invest in our area.

The location is also notable. As you can see in the image below, the building could not be any closer to Samsung's shiny new North American Headquarters in San Jose. Talk about keeping your friends close and your enemies closer.

Source: SVBJ

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Find the First National Bank Building

Do you know where the First National Bank Building is in Downtown San Jose? The building below was built in 1910 and still exists today, but looks completely different. To find out what the heck happened, head over to Think Bigger San Jose. We have several historic treasures hiding underneath fake facades unbeknownst to most San Joseans.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Warby Parker Opens in Santana Row Today

Warby Parker, a trendy eyewear store, is opening their 20th location in Santana Row. This will be their first location in Silicon Valley and the second location in Northern California (the only other being in San Francisco). They carry both prescription lenses and sunglasses and are known for reasonable pricing and their philanthropy efforts. For every pair sold, they donate a pair to someone in need around the world.

The Santana Row store opens today and the hours are 10am-9pm Monday through Saturday and 11am-6pm on Sundays. More details below.

San Jose's New "SmartPoles" are a Global First

San Jose has become the first city in the world to get Philips SmartPoles, which are perhaps the most technologically advanced street lights ever manufactured. Besides having energy-efficient LED lighting (made by San Jose-based Lumileds), they have two other distinct features. There is 4G LTE wireless infrastructure built right into the top of the pole, which is likely what gives it such a funky shape. On the bottom of the pole is a PG&E wireless energy meter, which previously required separate boxes on the street.

As a beta test, 50 of these will be manufactured and installed in Downtown San Jose and North San Jose. 14 have already been installed and the rest will be live by March 2016. These will add much needed capacity to cellular networks in San Jose. The best part is that the pilot program will cost nothing to the city. If everything works out, this technology will be deployed to other cities across the US.

I do wish they did not look like giant tampons, but hopefully that can be fixed in future design iterations.

Source: SVBJ

Friday, December 18, 2015

Permanent Light Show Under Highway 87 is Complete

One of the largest public art projects in Downtown San Jose has finally been completed. Many Downtown residents and visitors have been noticing the hundreds of blue circles underneath Highway 87 over the past couple months. The initial feedback when the project was in progress was a bit underwhelming; however, I'm pleased to say the that end result turned out quite well as you can see in The Merc's photos below.

This was all part of a $600,000 from ArtPlace America to illuminate Downtown San Jose and bring more art to public places. San Jose-based Philips Lumileds also donated the LEDs used in the installation.

"Sensing You" is the name of the project at Highway 87 and Santa Clara street. Every time someone walks or bikes through that underpass it will incite a reaction from the LED lights above. The more people that walk through it at the same time, the more dynamic the lights will become. There are up to 35 different "light reactions" that can be triggered.

A block away at Highway 87 and San Fernando there is another installation called "Sensing Water." Here you have paintings of water on both sides of the underpass and on the ceiling that is lit with blue LEDs.

I'm thrilled to see these projects go live. First off they are turning bland, uninviting, and sometimes even scary underpasses into interesting works of art. Second, they are helping build up a sense of artistic identity for San Jose. I have always felt that we should try to differentiate our artwork with projects that are digital, dynamic, and interactive. Those traits go hand-in-hand with the branding of Silicon Valley. The "Sensing You" is a great example of what we need more of in San Jose, and I hope it will inspire other projects not just in Downtown but throughout the city.

Source: The Merc

Highway 87 Underpass at Santa Clara Street

Highway 87 Underpass at San Fernando Street

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Content Pick Up Party Today!

In celebration of Content's 4th anniversary, they are doing a pick up party for Issue 7.5 "Serve" today at Downtown ice from 5:30pm to 7:30pm. This issue is focused on those that volunteer in our community. It features Kristi Yamaguchi, Ryan Nyquist, Manresa Bread, Caffe Frascati, Orly from Cukui, Cinequest, PSRT, Cruels, and Ann Bridges.

The event will include disco skating, beer by Golden State Brewery, wine by Regale Winery, hot cocoa, and biscotti. Subscribers get one free ice skating pass and a gift from Roxanne Biscotti when you pick up your latest issue.

Unlike most of their events, this one will be outdoors so bundle up! If you are not a subscriber yet, you can learn more about this great publication over here.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Sourisseau News: Andrew Hill

In the latest edition of Sourisseau News, we learn about the man Andrew Hill High School was named after. He was a painter and photographer known for several iconic photos of places like Mission Santa Clara, Stanford, and San Jose's Chinatown. He even climbed the San Jose Electric Light Tower to get an 8-photo panorama which you can see in the video below.

Andrew Hill had a studio in the Dougherty Building on South Second Street, which burnt down in the 1906 Earthquake. He ended up moving his studio to his home, which is currently on display at History San Jose. Check out the two minute video below for your monthly dose of San Jose history!

Sourisseau News December 2015 from WMS media Inc. on Vimeo.

San Jose Chinatown as photographed by Andrew Hill

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Lark Creek Kitchen Review

I still fondly remember Yankee Pier, the first Santana Row sit-down restaurant. It ended up becoming the first of many in one of the South Bay's premier dining destinations. After several years, the space was remodeled and transformed into Lark Creek Blue, which was still heavily focused on seafood. Now in the third incarnation of this space, Lark Creek Kitchen opens up the menu dramatically and focuses on more creative and elaborate dishes. Executive chef Nick Tall previously worked at Amber, a Two Michelin Star restaurant in Hong Kong. You can definitely see the influences from both Amber and Nick's Miami upbringing in the dishes. The menu also changes frequently with seasonal items being added every two weeks or so.

The summary (if you don't want to get into all the specifics below) is that I loved it. This is now easily one of the best restaurants on Santana Row. Ask your server for the chef's recommendations for that week and I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Smaller Plates

24 hour slow-cooked pork belly - This was both tender and crispy at the same time. It came with a flavorful side of morning glory (water spinach), a rare and hard-to-find topical plant used in Asian cooking but surprisingly hard to find in Silicon Valley.

Heirloom beet and buratta - This is a must-try appetizer if you visit! The buratta cheese was smooth and creamy and was accompanied by beets, dates, and pomegranate. I could eat three of these and call it a day.

Hamachi ceviche verde with avocado, kiwi, cucumber, green yuzu (Asian citrus) and plantain chips - Of all the great dishes we had, this one was my favorite. If you are a sushi fan like I am, you will love this. They use the fatty part of the hamachi (toro) for extra flavor. You can either use the plaintain chips to scoop up generous pieces of fish or use the lettuce on the bottom of the bowl to make a hamachi wrap (which I highly recommend, this helps you sop up all of the ceviche juices at the bottom).

Larger Plates

Yellowtail amberjack (cooked hamachi) with maitake mushroom, bacon, broken noodles, pickled cauliflower, and miso mustard glaze - Mind-blowingly good hamachi made from a dorsal fillet. A seaweed bacon infusion is used for the noodles.

Braised local lamb cavatelli pasta with homemade lemon ricotta, grilled fennel, roasted tomato, olive, three herb pesto - Perfect for a hearty meal when it's cold outside. There were a lot of flavors on the plate and it was very filling. If you feel like skipping the appetizers and getting down to business, this is a great choice.


Cheesecake creme brulee, pink guava puree, cafe culce de leche - Very unique, I have never had a dish like this. This is a perfect hybrid of both cheesecake and creme brulee, two of my favorite deserts. I would order this again in a heartbeat.

Caramelized pineapple and preserved lemon tart, white chocolate zabaglione (Italian custard made with egg yolks, sugar, and a sweet wine), pineapple caramel - This one was my wife's favorite. The flavors were very balanced and the cubes of pineapple inside of the custard were a great touch.


Unfortunately the cocktails were not quite up to the same caliber as the food. A place like this really deserves some true craft cocktails to go with the killer dishes. I tried the Cucumber Mule (hanson's organic vodka, bitters, lime, and ginger beer) and Broken Branch (rittenhouse rye whisky, sweet vermouth, maraschino liqueur, amaro averna, bitters). They were fine, but I wouldn't come out of my way to grab a cocktail here. Wine might be a better choice with your meal.

Chef Nick Tall also has ambitions to bring local craft beer vendors into the restaurant for multi-course beer pairings. He happens to be a brewer himself and has a strong appreciation and fondness for the art. If he launches a beer pairing for his outstanding menu, I'll be the first one in line.