Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Topgolf opens first Silicon Valley location in San Jose

North San Jose and Alviso are quiet parts of San Jose. There is honestly not much to do in terms of entertainment. Fortunately a new major amenity arrived a few months ago, Topgolf. It's part driving range, part Dave & Busters, and part gastropub.

The San Jose location is the first in the Bay Area as well as only the second location in all of Northern California. It is also one of only 4 flagship venues. To give you an idea of how popular these are, the Topgolf in Austin sells more alcohol than any other venue in Austin. The San Jose location is three stories with large bars and restaurants on each one.

The driving range aspect is more of a video game than anything else. Each golf ball has a microchip that lets it be tracked and the computer scores you based on your level of accuracy. There are also tons of games with different rules that you can play with your companions.

The food was surprisingly solid for a big chain. The burgers and fried mac & cheese were delicious. Service was a bit slow, but they were completely slammed when I went (on a Monday).

If you want to play, I would recommend getting a reservation since standby times can stretch to 4 hours or beyond. Parking is free, convenient, and they have a large number of free EV chargers as a bonus. It's also a great location for corporate events and parties. I experienced one firsthand and it was a blast.

For more info and to make reservations, head over here.

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

San Jose is the ultimate electric car hotspot

In order to move the needle on climate change, one of the key transitions we have to make is to move towards sustainable transportation. Fortunately electrics cars are also usually fast and fun to drive, providing further motivation to make the switch. 

It shouldn't come as much of a surprise that San Jose is the top metro driving the EV industry. It seems like every other car on the roads is a Tesla, but several new compelling EVs are also hitting the road these days.

Despite being the 10th largest city in the country, San Jose has the 3rd highest number of EVs of any city in the US irrespective of population. It also has 2.4 charging stations for every 1,000 homes, versus the national average of 0.3 stations.

A common complaint for renters interested in EVs is that there are no charging stations at their apartments. In San Jose 12.3% of all rentals actually have stations, which is by far the most of any city. Not to mention most grocery stores and shopping centers have multiple stations, with some places like Santana Row having hundreds of chargers (have a look at the 4th floor of the parking structure on Winchester Blvd).

San Francisco came in as the 2nd best metro for EVs followed by Seattle and LA. For the full article to see all of the criteria used for the study, click here.

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Content Pick-Up Party 12.4 "Profiles"

San Jose's premier art & culture magazine is resuming their "pick-up parties" with issue 13.4 on September 3rd--conveniently coinciding with the First Friday Art Walk. You can pick up your latest issue at Parque de Los Pobladores between 6pm-8pm and then check out the galleries and restaurants of SoFA. They'll even have live music, visual art, and mini auto show. What sort of magazine does that for their subscribers?

Speaking of which, if you're not already a subscriber you can learn more about the magazine over here.

In partnership with First Friday Art Walk - Content Magazine celebrates the release of issue 13.4 "Profiles" at Parque de Los Pobladores.

About this event

Join Content Magazine for the first outdoor Pick-Up Party of 2021 on Friday, September 3rd from 6:00-8:00pm in partnership with First Friday Art Walk.

This Pick-Up Party celebrates the release of Issue 13.4 "Profiles."


Low Conspiracy | Warren Chang | San Jose Foos | Annmariz | Aulala Design | 2021 West Valley Fashion Designers | Kaylee Dougherty | Barely Funktional | HeadHunter Crew | FlipSide Lovers | Francisco J Zarate | Google Downtown West | Needle to the Groove Album Picks

Connect with one another in this open outdoor setting and experience a blend of music by Barely Funktional and FlipSide Lovers, along with special guest performances, and visual art by Warren Chang, Francisco J Zarate, Jackelin Solorio, and more. Plus a special visit by Low Conspiracy Car Club.

It is a packed two hour event. We hope you will join us and stay and explore First Friday Art Walk. Open from 5-10pm.

We have missed you and cannot wait to see you!!

This event is made possible by Heritage Bank.

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Sundays in the Park with Arts: Hamiltunes

Every Sunday, St. James Park will host FREE performances by our talented arts organizations in the area. Viva Parks Downtown and Filco Events have come together to present this great series called "Sundays in the Park with ARTS" and it runs all the way until October 24th.

Each week, the event will run from 2-5pm on the grass in front of the Corinthian Building at St. James and Third. A professional stage, sound, and production system will be there each week. It's recommended that attendees bring chairs, a picnic basket, and blankets.

This week's event on August 29th features the San Jose Popup Choir leading the audience in HAMILTUNES -- the official public sing-along to the Broadway musical. SJ Popup Choir is the only officially licensed presenter of HAMILTUNES in the bay area, so it's one event you won't want to miss if you're a fan of the smash-hit musical. You'll be able to access all of the lyrics on your phone. Again, it's from 2-5pm this Sunday at Saint James Park.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

SoFA will never be the same if these 6 towers get built

Feast your eyes on two projects consisting of three towers each in Downtown San Jose's artsy SoFA district. I love how these proposals continue to get more and more impressive with natural elements and rooftop amenities.

The first five renders below are a joint residential venture between Urban Community and Terrascape Ventures with 386 units. Two towers would be around 420 S. 2nd Street and clock in at 12 and 22 stories plus 8,000 SQFT of retail in a public plaza between the buildings. This is where the Dai-Thanh Supermarket and Dakao Sandwich shop currently stand. A third 20-story would rise on 420 S. 3rd St. and replace an old apartment complex. At least two towers would have an outdoor rooftop deck and lounge with trees and plants. The entire project would be built using mass timber and cross-laminated timber and operate with net-zero carbon emissions.

The next five renders are Westbank's "The Orchard" mixed-use project at the very entrance of SoFA from San Salvador Street. The towers looks great, but the ground-floor retail looks phenomenal! Currently, most of this proposal covers what today is a giant outdoor parking lot.

If just one of these projects moves forward, it will transform the area. If both make it, it'll be a revelation. It would triple the amount of foot traffic on most days and likely turn SoFA into an even more thriving area than San Pedro Square or the Historic District.

Sources: SVBJ, Aphelion2100 from the SJ Development Forum

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

August 2021 Downtown Dimension Highlights

The AUGUST 2021 Downtown Dimension is now available for download.
This month's newsletter highlights:  
  • Fan favorite J BOOG will headline the only Music in the Park event this summer. Mark your calendar for Aug. 27 at Plaza de Cesar Chavez Tickets are available. 
  • Mayor and downtown councilmember make optimistic comments at Scott's Chowder House's second downtown grand opening.
  • Promotion for SJDA's Chloe Shipp to director of public space operations.
  • Sarah Billings takes over as street life manager
  • Frank Chavez, Groundwerx's Employee of the Month, talks about the importance of cleaning downtown.
  • San Jose Jazz Summer Fest joins Music in the Park and SV Pride and plenty of other events this month.
  • Light rail to return this month.
  • San Jose's Office of Economic Development releases federal and state loan numbers to San Jose businesses during the pandemic.


Tuesday, August 10, 2021

San Jose Jazz Summer Fest 2021

One of Downtown San Jose's largest events is back this week. San Jose Jazz's Summer Fest runs Friday to Sunday with multiple stages and options for every budget (including $5 streaming passes for one of the stages). The main stage will be centered in Plaza de Cesar Chavez but various events and the overall atmosphere will encompass large portions of Downtown San Jose. It will be a fun weekend to be in the area even if you are not attending the full event.

The full blurb is below and you can access the full roster and tickets over here.

Celebrate the Rebirth of “Live” at San Jose Jazz Summer Fest, August 13–15. One of the first significant live music events in the Bay Area in 2021, the Fest reclaims its place as "one of the world's great urban jazz festivals" (DownBeat Magazine) with a more compact footprint centered on the Sobrato Organization Main Stage in the Plaza de César Chavez. We'll bring you six stages with the same great vibe and a mix of international stars, emerging artists and local gems playing jazz, blues, R&B, New Orleans, Latin and more, including Grammy / Emmy / Academy Award winning artist Common, Latin jazz legend Pete Escovedo, fast-rising soul singer Judith Hill, funk powerhouse Morris Day and The Time, Latin urban party starter Ozomatli, Blue Note recording artist Kandace Springs and 70+ more.

Celebrating its 31st festival year in 2021, Summer Fest is an eclectic musical celebration that inspires family reunions, gathers old friends and brings music to every corner of downtown San Jose. Tickets and info at summerfest.sanjosejazz.org

Tuesday, August 3, 2021


This month, South FIRST FRIDAYS is supersized with the return of our annual summer street market. All art venues will be open for in-person visits from 5pm-9pm, as will the indie urban street market featuring over 50 artists, performers, and creatives. You can't miss it since the market will take over a chunk of SoFA. Of course there will be great food and drinks as well.

For more info head over here.

Participating Artists & Indie Creatives:

Atiso Garden
Delilah Bender
Bolo Vintage
Calpulli Tonalehqueh Aztec Dance (7:30pm)
Calli Miquiztli
Arely Cardenas
Classic Loot
Content Magazine
Jhovany R De Ala
Sharon Deibert
Kirsten Dorsey
Ruben Escalante
Faerie Goatmother
Kristin Fjeldheim 
FUSE Presents
Mark Gomez
Cynthia Gonzalez
Hand in Hand Henna
Matty Heimgartner
Higher Fire Clayspace & Gallery
Christine Hofstetter
Maureen Holcomb 
Inside Out Clothing
KathyKay Shirts & Kimonos
Nao Kondo
David Krase
Le Joe
LGBTQ Youth Space
The Local Creative Show
Frankie McFly
Joe Mandrick
Jodi Mascarenas
David Mejia
Poet Mighty Mike McGee + Friends
Bruce Miles
More Más Marami Arts
Sean Nash
Jean-Luc Pedanou
Leslie Perez Designs
Petite Galleria 
Plant Theory
Poetry Center San Jose
Al Preciado 
Francisco Ramirez
Marilyn Roaf 
SJ Institute of Contemporary Art
Second Hand Hustle
South Bay Burners 
Stay Tuft Rug Co.
Tochtli Wear
Willow Workshop Collective
Works San Jose
Zonkey Toys

In addition to neighborhood restaurants being open, we’ll have the 3 Brothers Kitchen and Road Doggs food trucks on site.

Beer Garden sponsored by LVL Uproar an independent brewery, gastropub and arcade now open in the SoFA District. Music provided by DJ Flipside Crew.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

July 2021 Downtown Dimension Highlights

The JULY 2021 Downtown Dimension is now available for download.
This month's newsletter highlights:  
  • With the pressure and stress of Covid somewhat relieved, downtown businesses are now on the road of recovery.  By the end of August, most of downtown's biggest entertainment venues -- including SAP Center and the Convention Center -- will be back in business.
  • Remember to Dine Downtown July 1-18 at your choice of 26 downtown restaurants and cafes.  Enjoy chef specials, prix fixe three- and four-course menus or special drink-and-food pairings.
  • SJDA also announces the return of Music in the Park and Starlight Cinemas this summer.
  • Downtown property owners present the SoFA Pocket Park, a unique urban oasis featuring dog park and demonstration garden. Below, find some scenes from yesterday's opening.
  • Bjarke Ingels' Serpentine Pavilion is headed to downtown San Jose.
  • James Wheeler is feted as Groundwerx's Employee of the Month.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Unique office and housing tower could transform Downtown skyline

The word iconic gets thrown out a lot, but there is a proposal at 35 S. Second St. whose design would truly be iconic for the Downtown San Jose skyline. "Energy Hub" is a curvy office and residential tower that features multiple cutouts for trees and plants--not to mention a full living roof. Have a look at the second and third renders below to see how this concept looks in the context of other Downtown buildings. The change would be pretty dramatic.

The tower is actually two connected buildings that rise 21 floors. Retail and restaurants wrap around the ground floor, followed by residential space across 10 floors (194 units total), and topped with 314,000 SQFT of office space. There is also an atrium-like urban room on the ground floor accessible to the public. 

The roof is essentially a giant park with amenities for both residents and office workers. There are trees, hills, lounge areas, places to picnic, and even an full-blown running track. It has to be one of the most unique amenities proposed for the roof of any Downtown building (hopefully there is a pool or lake up there as well).

This proposal goes to show you don't have to have height in order to make a project stand out and change the entire landscape of an urban neighborhood.

Source: The Merc

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Starlight Cinemas 2021

A staple of the Downtown San Jose summer entertainment scene is returning to St. James Park on July 21st. Four family friendly movies will play outdoors around 8pm on Wednesdays: "Up," "The Perfect Game," "Raya and the Last Dragon," and "The Karate Kid." The pre-show entertainment this Wednesday will include a balloon artist (goes well with the "Up" theme), kettle corn, a gift from the Children's Discovery Museum, and a performance by the San Jose Dance Theater.

This event is completely free and brought to you by the San Jose Downtown Association and several sponsors. Fore more information head over to the Starlight Cinemas page.

SAN JOSE - The San Jose Downtown Association is back with Starlight Cinemas, presented by First Tech Federal Credit Union. Get ready for free summer outdoor movies on four consecutive Wednesdays starting July 21 at dusk at St. James Park in downtown San Jose. 

Starlight Cinemas kicks off with "Up" on July 21 and "The Perfect Game" on July 28. Catch the new Disney movie, "Raya and the Last Dragon" on Aug. 4. We'll close off the series Aug. 11 with a classic, the 1984 version of "The Karate Kid."  (Note:  Karate Kid is rated PG )

Grab food to-go from a downtown restaurant and arrive an hour before dusk for pre-movie fun and games.  The pre-movie fun for the July 21 (starting about 8 p.m.) feature includes: 
  • Balloon artist on site.
  • Ball blower take-and-make kit for each child to take home, courtesy Children's Discovery Museum
  • Kettle Corn, flavored popcorn and lemonade for sale
  • Performance by San Jose Dance Theater
The movies are held in conjunction with the City's Viva Parks programming.

Check http://sjdowntown.com/starlight for more information

Park in the Third Street or Market & San Pedro garages. Parking is free for the first 90 minutes. ParkSJ.org

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

New single from San Jose Band, Love District: "Feels like Home"

Four members from San Jose that fell in love with post-punk and new wave have just released a rockin new single. Their style is reminiscent of The Cure, The Smiths, and New Order with their own spin. 

The new single is entitled "Feels Like Home" and it's about life in a dense city where you can feel alone and at home at the same time. That's all the more poignant after 16 months of dealing with COVID. In their words: "It's about about how we can forget the important things in life during the endless grind and distractions in our lives. Wherever you live, whatever the situation, we all have a place we feel is our home."

I've already added it to my playlist and look forward to checking them out live in the Bay Area sometime. You can listen to "Feels Like Home" on Spotify over here.

Below is a bit more info about about band:

"After releasing their debut EP Control,” and their album Delusions,” Love District is looking to reestablish their sound with their upcoming releases. The group has played the Ernie Ball stage at Vans Warped Tour, worked with CocaCola, and has played many festivals and venues while becoming a staple in the Bay Area music scene."

Thursday, July 8, 2021

Downtown Daydream: What now for N San Pedro St?

It has been over a year since the pandemic first impacted our day-to-day lives. Among the struggles that swept across the world, one silver lining has been the increased emphasis on outdoor dining and placemaking. Faced with the challenge to keep business and restaurants alive while keeping their people safe, cities across the world took a hard look at how they were utilizing their existing spaces. In many instances, this meant creating new outdoor gathering locations. 

San Jose was no exception. We saw the expansion of existing parklet programs, seating in some pedestrian areas, and in some cases, complete street closures (dubbed the "Al Fresco" program). As COVID-19 infections start to decline, and vaccination programs pick up speed, it's time to consider what we've learned from these projects. More importantly, we have an opportunity to make our spaces better than pre-pandemic.

N San Pedro St (credit Silicon Valley Lofts)

In this blog we'll focus on the street closure program. Specifically, the N San Pedro St implementation of Al Fresco. We have examples that will likely be temporary (e.g. Santana Row), and examples that have gone above and beyond (e.g. Post Street). The San Pedro experiment stands out because while it served its purpose, it also showed how much potential there is for permanent improvement in the area. 

There's support from neighboring businesses, but we shouldn't accept the status quo as the final state of a pedestrian-friendly San Pedro St. We need to think bigger without being unrealistic.

The progress

A few things have already happened over the past couple years (even before the pandemic) to boost activity, to varying results.
  1. Moment San Jose finally created retail on the street for patrons to check out before/after their meals. This has created some success stories, and some former tenants even ended up expanding to their own brick & mortar locations. There's a mix of fashion, art, and essentials (e.g. The Source Zero).
  2. There have been various pop up events that already closed off the street. The longest lasting example was the downtown farmer's market on Fridays. Other examples included Superbowl 50 promotional events and a placemaking experiment with ping pong and corn hole.
  3. Nearby construction brings more of a complete retail experience (or at least the potential for it). Modera San Pedro created a new lively alleyway. 188 W St James should, in theory, bring a new block of retail and/or restaurants, including a two story building dedicated to a restaurant. Centerra has finally started filling in its retail spots. In other words, folks will be walking further and further from central San Pedro Square.

The challenges

There have been rumors for years that the core blocks of N San Pedro St would become a pedestrian-only zone. We saw some hints of it during downtown farmer's markets. But there are a few reasons why it's been a little controversial.
  1. One side of the street is the parking structure, with one of the main entrances on San Pedro St.
  2. The parking structure exit is on the north side, and flows out into either Market St or San Pedro St. This means there's a bit of a pinch--the San Pedro St entrance and exits will always mark the end of the pedestrian zone unless they are relocated or shut down.
  3. There isn't a lot of pedestrian traffic at all times of day. San Pedro Square tends to attract an employee lunch crowd and a social dinner crowd. 
  4. The street itself is not built for pedestrians. The walking experience feels incomplete.
These are some reasons to keep the street open to cars, but they are not insurmountable issues. The area just needs some adjustment and planning to unlock its full potential.

The potential

I'm not saying the following changes are necessarily easy or cheap. But they are details that are required to take San Pedro Square to the next level.

Level the entire street

The first thing I notice when I walk through the area is that there are a lot of attempts to work around the inherently pedestrian-hostile features of a street. The ground is dirty and unpleasant to walk on. It's easy to trip over the curb, which also means most parts are not accessible to the disabled. There's a constant nagging feeling that you should probably walk on the sidewalk as you've been conditioned to do. 

Some restaurants have found workarounds for the 
pedestrian-hostile features of the street

The most important change is to make sure there's no leveling transition from the "sidewalk" to the "street". In fact, get rid of the two concepts altogether so patrons don't have to think twice about walking to the middle of the street. I understand there maybe some requirements for purposes of drainage, but I think this can be done strategically with as little obstruction to the general walking experience as possible.

Make the street more welcoming with brick (or anything but asphalt)

A level street also means an opportunity to improve the material used for the flooring. Personally, I find brick to be versatile, friendly, and theoretically easy to keep clean. We don't have to look too far for examples of this. For example, the following stretch of Redwood City is easy to navigate on foot.

Downtown Redwood City (credit: Alison Fujimoto)

Not only is it more comfortable to walk on brick, seating options also feel less temporary and more deliberate.

Expand the Moment San Jose program

There are currently four storefronts that occupy Moment San Jose. This was a great start, but the program should expand to help plug in the gaps in street activation. Ideally the entire street-facing side of the parking structure should be some sort of art or retail.

Not only should more parking spaces be converted into retail, the program should experiment with more spaces of different sizes and functions. If this is indeed a way for small business owners to blossom and graduate into other storefronts, the city needs to invest in it. 

One of the biggest gaps that can benefit from this program is the N San Pedro St garage entrance. Which leads me to my next point...

Update the N San Pedro St. entrance and exit plan

First off, the parking structure does not require an entrance on both sides. For the benefits of the N San Pedro St pedestrian plan, the only entrance should be through Market St. This allow the current entrance area to be repurposed into something worthy of its premium location (e.g. some form of the Moment program).

Second, the parking structure exits are very awkward today. The parking structure exit faces north, but the actual street exits are on the east and west. Both exits interrupt pedestrian traffic: the west exit prevents full street closure to cars on N San Pedro St, while the east exit does not make it clear to pedestrians in the corner if they have right of way or not. 

Here's a crude marking of the two exits in red (camera facing southeast):

San Pedro Square parking structure, looking SE

I'm not an expert in traffic design, but at least one option seems to be to exit all traffic (multi lane if needed) on the north side (blue arrows), which gives the east and west more flexibility to optimize for pedestrians.

Just to clearly illustrate why the eastern exit is confusing, here's another angle:

A car approaching this exit may very well think they can exit at the corner or that they have right of way to exit to their right. A pedestrian may very well assume the continued sidewalk means they have right of way (and they might). There are some guiding cones, but they're flimsy and offer no protection.

If the exits were at the north side, then some of these corners can be used for other purposes.

Add some density

For now, the street is dominated by outdoor seating from existing restaurants that cannot (or prefer not yet to) use their regular indoor capacity. When eventually indoor dining is fully accepted again, there's no good reason for these restaurants to be the primary occupants of the street. I'm not opposed to expanding their existing patios, but I also think there is room for more to see and do on the street.

There's no singular idea on what should be there instead, but here are some ideas.


If you've heard locals ask "what's there to do this weekend?", then you've seen first hand that it's difficult to learn about events around the city. A bulletin can give locals a way to advertise.

They can also be designed in such a way that they showcase artwork instead. Either way, it is something that passersby can spend some time absorbing, admiring, considering. 


In other countries and cities I've seen this concept executed well. Kiosks can be an open storefront for retail or food. They can be fully enclosed. They can even be primarily used for information/advocacy. 

Open concept

Enclosed concept (source: Sidewalking Victoria)

Regardless of the format, they are a great way to liven up a pedestrian area and make it feel like a street for people, not cars.

A small stage

N San Pedro St. is actually strangely quiet a lot of times. It's worth considering adding a small stage for small shows throughout the week.

Depending on the design this might be best fit for the ends of the street (and provide a natural way to close off the street) or it can be toward the middle.

The conclusion

I'm not a designer, but I consider most of the suggestions in this post to be incremental, realistic, and feasible. I've seen other cities do a much better job of livening up key blocks for pedestrians, and the city should really focus on making sure this is a no-brainer area to visit. I think any one of these improvements would be great, but a comprehensive set of changes can truly unlock the true potential. Let's hope that the success of the Al Fresco program will lead to more sophisticated concepts!

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Dine Downtown 2021!

One of the best opportunities to try out new restaurants at a discount launches today. 27 restaurants will be participating in the latest Dine Downtown event with special three and four course fixed-price menus. This time around instead of a restaurant week, the event will take place over the course of over two weeks.

Several new restaurants such as The Good Spot, Petiscos, Scott's Chowder House, and The Shop are on the list. In fact, the only restauranteurs in San Jose to ever get a Michelin Star have three different eateries on the list: Adega, Pastelaria, and Petiscos. Old favorites like Orchestria Palm Court, Habana Cuba, and Mezcal are on the list too.

To see the full press release and the list of restaurants, just scroll on down.

SSAN JOSE – Dine Downtown San Jose Restaurant “Week” returns for 18 days, starting July 1.


Normally the “week” lasts 10 days, but Dine Downtown was delayed and extended successfully to six weeks last October and November amid the COVID pandemic, so it will be extended again this year to assist with economic recovery after 15 months of tough times.


Twenty-seven downtown eateries have confirmed participation, offering food-and-drink pairings, 3- and 4-course price-fixed menus, or chef specials.


For first-timers as well as veteran downtown diners, the restaurant promotion provides a good way to explore new places and return to old favorites.  Several new Dine Downtown restaurants that opened during the pandemic are participating:  The Good Spot, Petiscos, Scott’s Chowder House and The Shop by Chef Baca. 


The newcomers have waited a long time for their chance to show off their mettle during Dine Downtown.  For example, Petiscos, new to the SoFA District, has a three-course menu that includes appetizers from flamed chouriço to asparagus rice; 15 choices for the main course from these categories:  shells & claws, tentacles & scales, and feathers & bones; and five choices for “sweet endings.”


On the customer side, every price point can participate.  Pastelaria by Adega offers a grilled cheese sandwich, drink and pastry for $10.  Grace Deli and café has a breakfast combo of egg, bacon, avocado and hash browns with salsa and fruits, plus bottomless coffee for $11.


The Grill on the Alley decided to mix it up, offering a featured cocktail –  a Ruby Red Lemon Drop – to go with their three-course meal of appetizer, filet mignon pot pie or Norwegian halibut as entrée, plus dessert.


Nomikai social food + drinkery offers chef’s specials and cocktail specials.  Choose from mango jalepeno wings, pork belly musubi on the food side or P.O.G Pig or a green tea highball.


71 Saint Peter and Mezcal have participated in all 13 years of Dine Downtown.


All the choices are posted at dinedowntown.com.


“It will be smiles all-around this summer,” said Julie Carlson, SJDA marketing director.  “Our chefs, hosts and servers are ready to welcome their customers ready for a beautiful evening out in downtown.”



2021 Dine Downtown

restaurant roster

  • 4th Street Pizza
  • 71 Saint Peter
  • Adega
  • The City Fish
  • Devine Cheese and Wine
  • District
  • Enoteca la Storia San Jose
  • The Farmers Union
  • The Good Spot
  • Grace Deli & Cafe
  • The Grill on the Alley
  • Habana Cuba
  • Il Fornaio
  • Mezcal Restaurant 
  • Nomikai Social Food + Drinkery
  • Nox Cookie Bar
  • Orchestria Palm Court
  • Paper Moon Cafe
  • Pastelaria
  • Petiscos
  • Scott’s Chowder House
  • Scott’s Seafood
  • The Shop by Chef Baca
  • SP2 Communal Bar + Restaurant
  • Spoonfish Poke
  • Voltaire Coffee Roasters

Monday, June 21, 2021

Key COVID vaccination milestone has been reached!

To say the pandemic has dragged on longer than anyone anticipated would be the understatement of the decade. Today, there isn't just light at the end of the tunnel--we're standing close enough to need sunscreen.

80% of all those in Santa Clara County above 12 years old have now received at least their first vaccination dose. A whopping 71.2% have completed their vaccination. Both are impressive stats, but neither is the milestone I'm talking about.

Most experts agree that in order to hit herd immunity, at least 70% of the total population has to have some level of immunity (vaccination, antibodies, or a natural immunity). That is 70% of the entire population of all ages and demographics, not only those that are currently eligible for the vaccine. So far, no major country in the world has hit a total population vaccination rate of 70% yet. Canada is the closest at 65.92%, followed by Israel at 63.43% and the UK at 62.55%. The US as a whole is still only at 52.59%.

Here in Silicon Valley, 71.1% of the total population has received at least the first dose of the vaccine. That puts us in a very strong position, with the number of new cases and deaths dwindling to levels not seen since early 2020.

We can still do better, but bit by bit things are getting back to normal. Masks are no longer required in many places indoors if you're vaccinated, social distancing and capacity restrictions have been relaxed, and major events are coming back. It's been a long journey, but we're almost there.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

3Below Theaters reopening plans

I'm thrilled that Downtown San Jose's only remaining movie theater has somehow survived the pandemic. Over the past year they tried every creative option imaginable to stay afloat, including socially distanced date nights on the roof using outdoor screens.

3Below is planning to come back full-force, with blockbuster like Black Widow as well as indie films, sing-alongs, live theater, and ComedySportz. They are also upping their food and drink selection with gourmet hot dogs, veggie skewers, waffle desserts, vegan treats, beer, and wine. There's even a tabletop arcade in the lobby.

For all of the details, read the press release below. 3Below is one of the most unique movie theaters in the Bay Area, so please visit if you would like to keep them around!

And Now…Please Enjoy Our Feature Presentation

3Below Theaters in Downtown San Jose is Now Open for Film, Food, and Fun

Live Theater, ComedySportz, Classes to reopen in September

(San Jose, CA    |   June 1, 2021)   Guggenheim Entertainment, operator of 3Below Theaters in Downtown San Jose, has a message for movie fans: It's time to return to theaters! After over a year of being shuttered, theaters around the country are welcoming guests back to the movies. As Downtown San Jose's only movie theater, 3Below Theater is ready to welcome moviegoers for summer blockbusters like In The Heights and Black Widow as well as award-winning independent films, classic and retro movies, and later this year, the return of their wildly popular sing-along cinema experiences. 3Below is also home to San Jose Playhouse, the producers' newly dubbed professional live theatre company. Live entertainment including musicals, theater for young audiences, classes, community programming, and ComedySportz is expected to reopen in September 2021.

Reopening 3Below for movies is a significant milestone for Downtown San Jose as it resumes normal operation after the COVID-19 pandemic slowed its entertainment and nightlife industries for more than a year. 3Below has a major part to play because of its history as a vital piece of downtown San Jose’s entertainment destinations. "We are committed to doing all we can to stay alive," reports producer and film programmer, Scott Guggenheim. "It has been terrifically challenging to stay positive and imagine a time when entertainment will fully reopen but with so much invested in the venue since its reimagining in 2018, we owe it to ourselves, our team, and our supporters to press on. We also feel we owe it to our community. The residents of Downtown San Jose and our friends and fans in neighboring communities deserve a unique entertainment destination like 3Below, and with the venue's long history - opening in 1984 and still going strong - the venue deserves to be celebrated and attended for years to come.”

With vaccines readily available and restrictions loosening nationwide, studios have begun releasing long-delayed titles, resulting in hours of summer movie entertainment filling up the roster. Though still the only South Bay location to enjoy independent, art, foreign, and documentary films like "Queen Bees", "Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It", and "Summer of Soul (...Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)", 3Below is also adding new releases to the schedule like "Here Today", "Cruella", "In the Heights", "Black Widow", "Jungle Cruise", "Stillwater", "Respect", and the highly anticipated "The Beatles: Get Back" by filmmaker Peter Jackson. 

The cafe in the 3Below lobby has also had a facelift, not only to its decor but to the menu. Guests will enjoy a wider range of freshly-made food and beverages to enjoy before, during, or after events. The eatery features gourmet hot dogs, meat and veggie skewers, waffle desserts, gourmet coffee, and beer and wine; vegan and gluten free options available. Validated parking is provided for the parking garage located above the theaters.

As eager as everyone is to return to "normal", 3Below's team is fully aware that many are being cautious before venturing out. 3Below's operations manager, Sherrol Simard, wants fans to know, "We will continue to enforce a number of safety protocols – known as 'CinemaSafe' – in order to slow the spread of COVID-19 and keep guests and employees healthy. We encourage guests to order tickets online in advance to minimize standing in lines or handling paper tickets. We are still limiting each auditorium to 50% capacity. Guests and employees are required to wear face masks at all times in the lobby and in the theaters, only removing them to eat or drink. When refilling popcorn and drinks, your cup or bucket will be exchanged for a new one." A page dedicated to Covid-19 Patron Guidelines can be found on 3Below’s website.

The producers at 3Below hope the community will once again look at the venue as a "third place." Producer Shannon Guggenheim understands "many people have been isolating at home for the better part of fourteen months and might be looking for a place to be other than home and work. We invite you to make 3Below your 'third place' and come hang out in our lobby to enjoy the ambience, great tunes, and the tabletop arcade game station. It's a place to do homework, use the free WiFi while sipping on our homemade lemonade. And it's where to spend an evening with the family watching a new movie and sharing a meal before taking some premium Italian gelato to go."

3Below closed the theater doors in mid-March 2020 and furloughed nearly all of its employees. All live productions and classes were cancelled/postponed. With theaters closed worldwide, movie studios delayed releases to 2021 or released to streaming services. These tough decisions have made it doubly difficult for a small theater to stay open. Even with the highly enjoyable "Up on the Roof" festival presented with the San Jose Downtown Association in October 2020, and a brief Oscar FilmFest in April, the amount of people who were willing to face a pandemic to catch a film was small. The Guggenheims hope patrons will look forward to returning to theaters to see some great films this summer. "We hope you will choose our family-operated, locally-owned venue as your location of choice to go back to the movies."

Visit 3BelowTheaters.com to see what's now playing and coming soon, as well as get information on job opportunities in the 3Below box office and cafe.