Thursday, August 31, 2023

BEAUTIFICA 360 at The Tech Interactive

BEAUTIFICA is a follow-up to one of the best selling planetarium music experiences in the world. The show provides a 360 degree journey through real and artificial worlds paired with an immersive audio experience. It's a sensory experience suitable for all ages 6 and up.

The Tech Interactive is screening it on their IMAX Dome Theater this weekend on Friday, September 1st and Saturday, September 2nd with showtimes at 6pm, 7:30pm, and 9pm.

There are still a few seats available. For more info and tickets to this unique experience, click here. 

Here are a couple promo codes if you are going with kids or larger groups:
BEAUTIFICAFAMILY - 10% off for adults booking with children
BEAUTIFICAGROUP - 10% off when booking 6 or more tickets

The WOW Festival 2023 in Downtown San Jose

A three-day music festival is taking place this Labor Day Weekend at Plaza de Cesar Chavez. The WOW Festival is showcase of emerging talent from San Jose and beyond, curated by Outside Live and featuring genres like indie rock, hip hop, EDM, folk, and more. 

Within the festival will be a variety of attractions, activities, food, a full bar, and "good vibes." Speaking of which, bad vibes are explicitly prohibited from this event according to their website.

It's open to all ages, although VIP tickets are 21 and over. The WOW festival runs from September 1st to 3rd, starting at noon each day and most musical acts ending around 10pm. For more info, head over here.

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Stunning animated murals by San Jose Storyboard

I missed the SoFA Block Party and didn't get to see the insane animated mural that San Jose Storyboard put together. The picture below doesn't do it justice, you have to watch the short video to see what the mural was actually like. I also love their mission statement:

"Our mission is to transform Downtown San Jose into a global epicenter of artistic innovation and creativity. Through pioneering immersive public art, we showcase large-scale illuminated, animated, and projection-mapped murals and landmarks that pay homage to our city's heritage while pushing the limits of creative expression.

By seamlessly blending art with urban spaces, we strive to ignite the imagination of both residents and visitors alike, fostering an inclusive and vibrant community that celebrates the profound power of artistic storytelling. Together, we aspire to establish Downtown San Jose as an inspiring destination that not only connects people but leaves an indelible and transformative impact on all who encounter its extraordinary art scene."

Vibrant, dynamic, interactive, digital art is really how the San Jose art scene can stand out. We don't need a sea of skyscrapers to be a global city. However, a thriving art scene that is unique and compliments the innovative spirit of our region will go a long way to giving a sense of place to Silicon Valley.

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Mask mandates are returning to Santa Clara County 😷

If you thought that mandatory government-mandated masking was over, then like myself you probably didn't read the most recent order by the Health Officer of the County of Santa Clara very carefully. On April 4th, 2023, mandatory masking was officially lifted in Santa Clara County. HOWEVER, masking is mandated for healthcare facilities during designated winter respiratory virus periods.

When are these winter respiratory virus periods? November 1st to March 31st of each year, a 5-month period which can be extended based on the discretion of the Health Officer. Punishments for violations, sound severe.

Right now this only applies to healthcare facilities, but this is a slippery slope that could lead to overreach into other areas and could open a door back to pandemic-style life. Would schools be next? Restaurants? Local businesses? 

Even within a healthcare setting, surely there should be some flexibility at the discretion of the facility. I'll give a personal example. My wife was in labor for 43 hours shortly after the mask mandates were lifted in April. I can't imagine how much more agonizing that would have been having to wear masks throughout the entire process.

I say this as someone who has had five COVID shots--the OG Pfizer duo, two boosters, and the bivalent... in other words, the works. I call it the Long Island Iced Tea of vaccinations.

What are your thoughts? Do we need to bring the mark requirements back or let organizations decide which policies work best for them and their constituents?

Monday, August 28, 2023

The San Jose Blog's posting schedule

As a new dad it's been a challenge finding the balance between family, my day job, and The San Jose Blog. However, after slowly ramping things up over the past three months I'm happy to say that the blog will officially go back to daily posts for the first time since 2015. That's seven days a week, 365 days a year. By default posts will be scheduled at 6am PT. 

In rare cases where there is a 2nd post in the same day it'll be scheduled for noon. If you see a different posting time, there is either an Easter egg hidden in the time or I got zero sleep the night before... one of those two.

Social media is also back from life support. I'll check and respond to comments posted on Facebook regularly. Most social media activity will be on X/Twitter

Why X? The velocity at which real-time information and news is shared beats other platforms and the user interface and performance are excellent. Also, a core part of San Jose's brand is innovation and most social media platforms have remained pretty stagnant. While I don't agree with all the changes made by X or even the name, I have to respect that it's a platform that is rapidly evolving and in many cases getting better over time. I'll do 3-5 short posts or reposts on X/Twitter a day to relay anything interesting related to San Jose faster than I normally would on the blog. A link to the longer daily posts will be there too.

Last but not least is Instagram. I'll use this sparingly at big events when I'm able to leave the house more often... which I hear is around the 6-month mark. Fingers crossed. Other parents can correct me here.

*Not my actual wall, Gregory Savage did this who is a UX Researcher and Volunteer at Code for San Jose

Sunday, August 27, 2023

Vinyl nights and vintage night market at NOITE in SoFA

Are you someone who refuses to give up their Vinyl collection? Still into vintage games, trading cards, or other cool stuff from the 80s and 90s? I just learned about a new event that you might be interested in.

There's a Vinyl night, record swap, and vintage night market every Thursday in Downtown San Jose's SoFA District. It's hosted at NOITE, a lounge that sits on top of Petiscos (San Jose's first and only Michelin Bib Gourmand restaurant) at the corner of South 1st Street and East San Salvador Street.

Even though the space is used as a nightclub or lounge on some nights, all ages are welcome for this event which runs from 7-11pm. For more info head over here.

Source: u/lechugaking on Reddit

Saturday, August 26, 2023

New Downtown San Jose mural celebrates AAPI achievements

You can find a beautiful new mural honoring Asian American Pacific Islanders on the side of Pono Hawaiian Grill at 86 N. Market Street. The shark is not-so-suble nod to San Jose. In the upper left you'll see the message Malama Aina which means "care for the land." This is more appropriate and resonant today than ever. 

The artwork was sponsored by the San Jose Downtown Association and the work was done by artist Taylor Reinhold assisted by Erik Smiley and Casey Landaker. You can watch the artists at work below with a 1 minute making-of video.

Friday, August 25, 2023

2nd Taco Bell *Cantina* opens in San Jose

If you have ever been to Taco Bell and wished there was something with a little more kick to wash those tacos down, today is your lucky day. A new Taco Bell Cantina opened next to the Century Theaters at Oakridge Mall. Unlike other Taco Bells, the "Cantina" variety serve alcohol including blended margaritas and beers and usually stay open until midnight.

It's a surreal experience getting your alcoholic beverages at a Taco Bell, but they were surprisingly good and affordable. I would take this over your typical movie theater food any day of the week.

There is one other Taco Bell Cantina at 19 Market St. in Downtown San Jose. I'll never forget that location as it's the only place where I personally experienced a crime. As I sat down to eat, a young man in a peacoat asked if he could have one of my Cheesy Gordita Crunch tacos. I said I'm good. Then he tried to trade me his peacoat for the taco. While tempting and likely a trade in my favor, I still said no. When I got up to tell one of the managers I was getting a bit uncomfortable, he grabbed my taco and ran away! He didn't even leave the peacoat. Thankfully customer service was excellent and Taco Bell Cantina staff immediately replaced my pilfered Cheesy Gordita Crunch taco at no additional charge. No police report was filed.

True random story aside, if you enjoy Taco Bell this is the best one to go to. Their fancy frozen margaritas can also be made without alcohol and they have nicer seating they your typical Taco Bell. This new one even has a patio with a fireplace.

Source: Fox KTVU

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Google's Downtown San Jose project still has signs of life

While it's not the promised mixed-use megacampus many were excited about, Google is still planning to be active in the Downtown San Jose area. They are hosting Creekside Socials at various locations within the footprint of their proposed project near the Shark Tank and Diridon Station. These events are designed to celebrate the local culinary and creative community. There will be live music, food trucks, interactive art, a bike valet, children's programming, and a small maker's faire. 

The first Creekside Social will be on September 9th from 11am-3pm at 20 Barack Obama Boulevard across from the SAP Center.

Google is also preserving the historic San Jose Water Company building and is working with local artist to enhance the "Downtown West" neighborhood they will hopefully be anchoring in the coming years and/or decades.

Source: The Merc

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Santana Row getting first Yeti store in Northern California and 3 new restaurants

Yeti specializes in innovative outdoor gear and apparel. They have a strong following of brand loyalists around the world and this happens to be their first store not just in Silicon Valley, but all of Northern California. The store is open today.

In other Santana Row news, Urban Plates will open on September 4th. The restaurants will focus on health-conscience seasonal dishes made from local ingredients. They have two other locations, Dublin (which I've been to and it's fantastic) and Sunnyvale.

In 2024, Fitoor--meaning passion in Arabic and Hindi--will bring an Indian grill and lounge to Santana Row. The team behind the new restaurant launched the Michelin-rated Indian restaurant ROOH in Palo Alto and San Francisco. They are planning an upscale twist on Indian cuisine with cocktails that have "dramatic flourishes" and ambiance they describe as sultry and luxe.

Last but not least, Suspiro is a new Peruvian and Spanish fusion restaurant by the same owners as El Jardin and Zazil. They are planning to capture the best flavors from both types of cuisine in an atmosphere that is visually captivating.

While many shopping districts are struggling right now, both Santana Row and Valley Fair seem to be more than holding their own. If only we had a solution to bypass the traffic getting into the area.

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

New permit activity for Orchard Residential in Downtown San Jose

A 30-story apartment tower called Orchard Residential is slowly moving forward. Plans were approved last November, but some revisions were requested such as cutting car parking by half. They are hoping to receive their full building permit by fall to proceed with a pretty stunning 294-foot tall project.

The building will have 502,340 SQFT dedicated to residences, 13,860 SQFT of ground-floor retail, 104 parking spaces for cars, and 176 spaces for bicycles. The renders below are not just concepts--they are actually planning to plant 312 fruit trees and additional plants across the facade which is something more projects should consider doing.

Source: SF YIMBY, Dirk_Birkin from Skyscraper City

Monday, August 21, 2023

Silicon Valley Pride Parade & Festival this weekend

One of the best parts of living in such a diverse community are the cultural activities we can experience. San Jose has an epic Pride Festival this weekend, but the events actually start today and continue throughout the week.

Silicon Valley Pride started in 1975 as a gay rights rally and evolved into the parade and festival it is today in 1977. I actually did not realize it started that long ago. Today it's the largest Pride celebration in the South Bay and is family and ally friendly. 

The Festival featuring live music and entertainment takes place on Saturday, August 26th from 6pm to 11pm and Sunday, August 27th from 12pm to 6pm. The Parade will be on Sunday from 10:30am to 12:00pm. Tickets are only $5 per day at the door. For more info and the full event schedule, head over here.

Sunday, August 20, 2023

San Jose is the 2nd best place to raise a family in the US

U.S. News looked at quality of life, job markets, crime, healthcare, quality of high school education, and affordability to find the best places to live in the country. Even though affordability was one of those variables, San Jose made it to 2nd place. In fact, it was the only California city to make the list.

San Jose also ranked #1 in college readiness for high school students out of the 150 most populous metros in the US.

Here are the 25 best places to live for families in the U.S according to U.S. News:

25. Boise, Idaho
24. Cincinnati
23. Davenport-Bettendorf, Iowa, and Moline-Rock Island, Illinois (Quad Cities)
22. Washington, D.C.
21. Rochester, New York
20. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
19. Portland, Maine
18. Raleigh and Durham, North Carolina
17. Buffalo, New York
16. Ann Arbor, Michigan
15. Hickory, North Carolina
14.Omaha, Nebraska
13. Pittsburgh
12. Syracuse, New York
11. Madison, Wisconsin
10. Lincoln, Nebraska
9. Fort Wayne, Indiana
8. Grand Rapids, Michigan
7. Albany, New York
6. Des Moines, Iowa
5. Minneapolis-St. Paul
4. Fayetteville, Arkansas
3. Green Bay, Wisconsin
2. San Jose, California
1. Huntsville, Alabama

Source: U.S. News

Saturday, August 19, 2023

Could San Jose get their own utility instead of PG&E?

It's a longshot, but plans are brewing for San Jose to potentially build their own power utility to replace PG&E. A theoretical "San Jose Power" would access a new underground transmission line that will expand the amount of power going to San Jose and is expected to be built by 2028.

While there are risks, the benefits could be significant. Just look at our neighbor Santa Clara that owns and operates their own electrical utility--Silicon Valley Power. Their electrical rates are far below PG&E and among the lowest in the state, uptime is incredible with power outages being extremely rare, AND it is still generating revenue for the city of Santa Clara. Not only that, Silicon Valley Power has had a few unintended benefits such as attracting data centers and businesses with cheap electricity and miles of dark fiber optic connections that were added along the utility's right-of-way.

There are downsides. Running a utility is a very different skill than a government and some skeptics will question whether San Jose is able to pull it off. Of course PG&E will want to shut down this idea as quickly as possible. Perhaps there is another option like partnering with Silicon Valley Power instead of reinventing the wheel for San Jose. If the end goal is to build a better service for San Jose at a lower cost and with higher uptime, they have already achieved that and perhaps there is a way to scale their success to San Jose.

Source: The Merc

Friday, August 18, 2023

Egghead Sando opens new locations in San Jose and Santa Clara

One of my favorite sandwich places has opened two new locations. You can now enjoy Egghead Sando Cafe in South San Jose at 6201 Santa Teresa Blvd. and in Santa Clara at 3957 Rivermark Plaza (North San Jose area).

They are known for their fluffy egg-centric toasted brioche sandwiches, which are often paired with bacon, spam, or chicken. My go-to is the B.E.C. sandwich which has thick-cut bacon, an over medium egg, cheddar, and house sauce. They also have a specialty called the Eggy which is a poached egg on top of a potato puree topped topped with bacon and chives. It's a perfect complement to any sandwich, especially with tater tots. 

They're open from 7am to 3pm on the weekdays and 8am to 4pm on the weekends. Egghead also has two other locations off of Capital Expressway and in Downtown San Jose.

Source: The Merc

Thursday, August 17, 2023

Alviso/North San Jose entertainment district is now a data center

Next to the Topgolf in Alviso was a grand plan for an entertainment district containing shops, restaurants, and two hotels. Five years later, the area around Topgolf is still barren (although Topgolf is doing very well on its own). 

Now, the owners of the land are coming back to the city with a very different proposal that is likely to be a lot less exciting for North San Jose residents... a giant data center. I'm digging the exterior design with a living wall for the 172,500 SQFT two-story building and it's neighboring 174,400 SQFT three-story power center--but it's still a server farm. 

There is still hope for a 15,000 SQFT retail space, which could house a few restaurants. However, that is nothing compared the the multi-million SQFT projects Santa Clara is planning down the street. In a few years there will be tons of new apartments, office buildings, restaurants, shopping, and at least one new hotel across from Levi's stadium. Not to mention all of Great America will likely be turned into some mixed used mega-property like Santana Row over the next 10-15 years. 

Something is better than nothing from a city tax dollar perspective, but we should question whether this is the best use for this land. Once it's a data center, I don't think it will be convertible to anything else.

Source: The Merc

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

Famous Korean BBQ spot Baekjeong opens first Northern California location in San Jose

Speaking of BBQ (see previous post today), Baekjeong is opening their very first location in Northern California at Westfield Valley Fair. This is a chain owned by Korean celebrity Kang Ho-dong and is extremely popular in LA and New York. San Jose will be one of just a two locations to accept reservations and they are already going fast on Resy.

While many malls around the country are struggling, Valley Fair somehow is continuing to expand and attract compelling restaurants. Eataly, Din Tai Fung, iChina, Maestro's, Kingfish, and Ramen Nagi are some of the other flagship dining destinations within the mall.

Guide to San Jose BBQ spots

SJ Today has a handy guide for the top BBQ spots in San Jose. Many of my favorites are on there including my personal top choice, Smoking Pig BBQ. Smoked Out BBQ in Santa Clara is also fantastic and in one of the most random places you will ever find a restaurant.

Check out the SJ Today list over here.


Tuesday, August 15, 2023

Content 15.4 "Profiles" pick-up party

Content Magazine is releasing their newest issue on Thursday, August 17th. As is tradition they are hosting a party to celebrate the release, which is taking place at the San Jose Museum of Art (SJMA). Music and entertainment will be provided by DJ Weezmatic, Yosimar Reyes, Ervin Wilson, James Mertke, Paul J. Gonzalez, Together We Create, and more.

The event takes place from 6-9pm and is free to the public. Content Subscribers also get a complimentary beverage and hors d'oeuvres courtesy of El Cafecito by Mezcal Restaurant.

For more info or to become a subscriber, head over here.

Monday, August 14, 2023

Cinequest 2023 ("Energized") kicks off tomorrow

The 33rd Cinequest returns tomorrow, August 15th and runs through the end of the month. It features over 300 films this year, 84 of which are US or world premiers. This has become a top-10 film festival in the US, so it's well worth checking out. My favorites are always the collections of shorts, especially the comedies.

For a short guide, head over to SJ Today. To see the full list of films and buy your passes, is your best bet.

San Jose office building may be converted to residential or hotel

A 10-story, 113-year-old office building at 2 West Santa Clara St. might be converted to become either a residential building or a hotel.

Like many urban areas today, Downtown San Jose has a very high office vacancy rate. In Q2 it was 26.6%, partially because the massive 200 Park office tower was completed, adding greatly to the amount of available office space in the area. Santa Clara is also at 26.1% and San Francisco has a whopping 31.6% office vacancy.

So it makes quite a bit of sense to take some of the older office buildings and convert them to other uses that have more demand. Some of the plans up for consideration for 2 West Santa Clara are 65 residences, a hotel with 147 rooms, or a 73-unit co-living space (e.g. The Grad). 

The building has a great location in central Downtown San Jose but is only 100,000 SQFT and has small floor plates that are not popular with tech companies these days. Since every office has windows already, it should a pretty easy conversion to residential or a hotel.

Source: SFGATE

Sunday, August 13, 2023

New housing proposed for East Capitol Expressway

Yet another housing project is being proposed near a San Jose train stop. 203 residential units and a cafe are being planned for the intersection of East Capital Expressway and Highway 87. The multi-phase project would also have an open plaza, paseo, a library, public art, and community spaces.

It's an interesting transit-oriented location across from an existing Light Rail Station and the onramp for Highway 87. Based on the renders it looks like they are planning to incorporate a bus hub into the project as well and there seems to be a plenty of room for future expansion. 

I imagine much of the Capital Expressway Auto Mall across from the freeway will be redeveloped long term, so it will be interesting to see what this neighborhood will become.

Source: SVBJ

Saturday, August 12, 2023

Downtown San Jose restaurants playing musical chairs

Several Downtown restaurants are making moves to new locations and filling critical corner retail gaps on city blocks. 

Elyse--one of my favorite Downtown San Jose restaurants--has outgrown their previous spot (famous for House of Siam until 2014). They are moving to a much larger corner space previously occupied by Nemea Mediterranean. Elyse is the ultimate date-night spot, with an eclectic French Vietnamese menu and craft cocktails. Hopefully they will keep the romantic atmosphere from their old location.

Next door is Angkor Chef, a brand new Cambodian restaurant. A few doors down from that in the former Pizza Flora spot (RIP, another one of my favs) is Angelou's Mexican Grill. They are moving from North 2nd Street and upgrading to a full bar. If it's anything like the previous location they'll be open until 2 or 3am as well. 

Then we have Mas Pizza from Paseo de San Antonio which will be taking over the Mumbai Local restaurant and nightclub. Like most of the previously mentioned spots, they will be significantly increasing their footprint and the owner envisions turning the pizza spot into an upscale sports bar.

Last but not least, the space that used to be Tony DiMaggio's and Pizza Chicago will become El Cabron Kitchen & Cantina.

The Downtown San Jose food scene continues to evolve, so please support your local restaurants--especially the family-owned unique spots that make Downtown special.

Source: The Merc

Friday, August 11, 2023

New mural in East San Jose

It's great to see that even giant national chains adding some local flair to their restaurants. Local artist Hector Covarrubias painted "Patterns of Nature" on the side of a McDonald's on Story Road. Even cooler, there is a QR code inside the restaurant that lets you bring the artwork to life on your phone. I'd love to see more of this throughout San Jose.

Source: SJ Today


The San Jose Barracuda and Tech CU Arena

The San Jose Sharks are our most famous pro sports team by far, but did you know that we have an AHL pro team as well called the San Jose Barracuda? They have their own 4,200-seat home called Tech CU Arena and it's attached to the largest ice facility in the United States (370,000 SQFT). It's one of only seven facilities in the US that operate at least six regulation NHL-sized ice rinks. It also happens to be the San Jose Shark's practice facility and is open to the public. You can sign up for non-pro ice hocky, broomball, curling, speed skating or just go for open ice skating. 

The San Jose Barracuda's Arena was part of a 200,000 SQFT expansion of Sharks Ice last year that also added two additional recreational sheets. 

For a look inside head over to the source link. For the San Jose Barracuda's schedule and tickets (an amazing value for a pro game), head over here. 

Source: SVBJ