The Fairmont — the Fairest of Them All?

While it feels COVID truly has no silver linings, one slight glimmer might be that it gave some businesses in San Jose a chance to step back and assess what they want to do next — be it a menu change, a branding change, or a full-on renovation. For the Fairmont Hotel in downtown, it’s the latter.

If you haven’t seen pics of the new Fairmont, check out this post from The San Jose Blog to see what’s been done. You may just want to start planning to grab a champagne cocktail in the face-lifted lounge space with your freshly vaccinated crew. Should be an interesting place to hang out this coming year, particularly if and when Christmas in the Park returns to Caesar Chavez. (Though the drive-through event in History San Jose park was nothing short of magical. Amazing experience!)

Notable renovation mention!

Bistro Tupaz in south San Jose is renovating and still has an INCREDIBLY delicious menu that won’t break the bank. Valentines Day potential? We think yes. Let’s just START with homemade biscotti!

Local Artist Spotlight: Slumptown Supply Co.

At Searchlight San Jose, we always love when folks support local artists and businesses, but especially now in the wake of the pandemic. We caught up with artist Kai Kwong of Slumptown Supply Co. who shared a bit about her designs and aesthetic, as well as some things she particularly loves about San Jose.

What’s the thinking behind your design style/how did you develop your particular style?

My designs are based around the goal of presenting my most authentic self and helping other people be honest with their own emotions. Even though I’ve never been formally trained in art, it’s always been a way for me to express myself. I’ve had previous experiences where I didn’t feel like I was conveying what I wanted to, due to forcing myself to work in a style that was heavily focused on technique, but limiting in so many other ways. Several years ago, I discovered hand-lettering, and realized that I had a lot more fun just drawing words by hand and applying bright colors to them than I did making fully rendered digital paintings.

How did you get your start? What was it like opening your business? How long have you been selling your unique products?

I started regularly going to events and craft markets as a vendor last summer, right after I’d taken a full year of screenprinting classes. I was pretty new to the whole tabling setup thing, so I relied a lot on my more experienced friends when I first started and was pleasantly surprised when people genuinely enjoyed what I had to offer!

What are 2-3 favorite items you offer and why?

My two favorite items are the BSOD longsleeve and the “Communication” sweater! I designed both of these shirts as two sides of the same concept – the constant struggle of trying to find and maintain genuine connections with people. The Communication sweater addresses the more positive side of things, with two friends keeping in touch through snail mail and online messaging. The BSOD longsleeve, named after the infamous blue screen of death that every PC user knows and loves, represents the negative emotions that come when that connection fails. It’s a really personal piece that addresses a lot of things I’ve been feeling over the past year, but I’m still proud of how it came together even if it makes me feel a little vulnerable sharing it!

What do you love about living and working in San Jose?

San Jose is my hometown! I don’t think I had a very clear picture of what the city was like growing up, as I live somewhat on the outskirts. Now that I’m more active in the local scene I’ve been really enjoying the laid back and welcoming community. We actually have a very unique maker-focused attitude here, and I’m very grateful for places like SJMade for giving a voice to smaller creators.

Name one San Jose location/local store/restaurant etc you love and why.

One of my favorite places to be is Academic Coffee – I’m not always in downtown, but when I am I always make an effort to stop by. I’ve always loved the atmosphere in small independent cafes, and Academic is always offering new and innovative ways to enjoy coffee. I had a pandan cold brew once and I miss it a lot.

You can check out Kai’s merch at Slumptown Supply Co. (I bought this tote and I love it!)

San Jose Goes Virtual

Believe us. We know more than anyone that these days you’re desperately sad to not be able to go out into San Jose and experience the wonders of our fine city in person. But while we all shelter in place together for…however long we’ll be doing this…you don’t have to miss out on the best that San Jose has to offer! Avoid the parking garages, traffic, and crowds and let San Jose come to YOU! 

Pick a few of these virtual experiences and paint the virtual town red. 


Take a ride at California’s Great America

Not only can you virtually ride some of your favorite attractions from our beloved theme park, you should definitely follow their Twitter account too. You’ll find a bunch of activities for kids to do (including a Great America word search) and nostalgic pictures of the park that will have you reminiscing about, well, times when we could be within 6 feet of each other. 

Get wild with Happy Hollow Park and Zoo 

Here again, following Happy Hollow’s Twitter will lead you into a delightful array of animal videos and pictures from around the park, plus you’ll get live, critical updates around such important events as Vintana the black and white ruffed lemur’s pregnancy and imminent labor. If that’s not enough, Happy Hollow is ready to make your Zoom meetings more enjoyable with an array of virtual backgrounds you can charm your co-workers with–including one of Danny himself. 


History San Jose online exhibits…and super-weird pics from their warehouse

Who doesn’t want to time travel out of 2020 right now? Visiting any of History San Jose’s online exhibits is your chance to escape COVID-mania and see San Jose in eras of DIFFERENT viral outbreaks! Plus, on their Twitter account they’re posting some of the very bizarre historical artifacts from their extensive archives including: 

 This old but probably still totally delicious can of soup from 1883: 

This assortment of frogs from their “very large frog collection”:

…and this EXCEPTIONALLY upsetting Chuck E. Cheese animatronic:

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Get artsy on a Thursday

The San Jose Museum of Modern Art is offering “Virtual Views” on Thursdays — tours through virtual exhibits led by curators who will be answering your questions and fortifying your tour experience with videos, audio playlists, and articles. They’ve got sculptor Donald Judd and photographer Dorothea Lange on exhibit for the remainder of April with more to come in May. 

All-ages field trip through The Tech

Children in your house getting antsy? Let two virtual buddies lead them on a virtual field trip through the Tech and get 30 valuable minutes to regain your sanity. It’s really well done and will get your kids excited for their next trip in person. As a bonus, once they’ve done the tour, give them a chance to solve a cyber crime in 8 different activities from coded communication to scam alerts and the Internet of Things. 

A tour through the house of the world’s #1 social distancer

What San Jose virtual experience is complete without a trip to the Winchester Mystery House? They’re offering virtual, guaranteed ghost-free tours of the mansion where you’ll see a selection of some of the 200 rooms and thousands of architectural oddities that make Sarah’s house one of the premier destinations in San Jose and in the nation. 


Walk it out

If you need a break from walking around your neighborhood, or if you’re unable to go for a walk during quarantine, check out these virtual walks sponsored by Keep Coyote Creek Beautiful. Upcoming events include a virtual walk at Shady Oaks Park and another at Almaden Quicksilver — with live Q&A chat if you have questions about the flora and fauna you discover. 


Rhyme time with Hicklebees

Everyone’s favorite local bookstore, Hicklebees in Willow Glen, is serving up all kinds of fun events from storytimes to challenges. April is Poetry Month (who knew?) and if you follow Hicklebees on Twitter you can join in on all kinds of poetic adventures. 

Read and win with San Jose Public Libraries

People are dusting off their piles of “to-reads” while we’re shut in, so if you’re doing it anyway, why not go for a prize while you’re at it? Log your reading minutes during the Spring into Reading challenge, and–depending on your age group–you can win anything from backpacks with school supplies (for Fall, naturally!) to airpods. (And while this contest ends April 30, keep an eye on the library website; we’ll likely see more fun events like this in the coming months!) 

And speaking of the library…

Get an eLibrary Card

While libraries are shut down, SJPL is offering new eLibrary Cards with access to online learning, electronic checkouts, streaming services, and downloads for any resident of San Jose. 


San Jose Jazz: Live from Home

Nothing more soothing for the soul than smooth jazz while we obsessively wash our hands to the beat. These 30-40 minute live streams of local San Jose musicians are truly delightful, and give you a chance to find some new favorites that you’ll want to hear live when the world starts spinning again. 


Cure the blues with the best medicine

First of all, if you haven’t been to a ComedySportz performance live (with the whole fam OR for the 18 and over late show) you must put this near the VERY top of your post-quarantine to-do list. But the next  best thing to seeing live improv comedy is a virtual show featuring our San Jose team. Check out their Facebook page to find showtimes and get guffawing in your living room. 

CityLights: “Coded” on stage

CityLights Theater — like so many others– had to close down before opening night on their brand new show “Coded” — but the good news is they’re still welcoming theater patrons to watch a recorded performance of the show for free (though do be sure to make a donation if you can!) 

A quick synopsis of this timely, virtual reality-themed show: 

Jerrie was on her way to being a leader in the gaming industry, until a competitor armed with a legion of internet trolls launched an all-out assault on her, and she was forced into hiding. Now, she’s back with a hand-picked team and a plan to revolutionize virtual-reality gaming. If she can keep the trolls at bay and control over her staff, she might be able to dismantle the industry’s boys’ club. But when the virtual world begins to invade the real one, things get more surreal than she could have imagined.


Show some love to local retailers

SJMade has launched an awesome storefront (perhaps in a timely nod to the Animal Crossing New Horizons craze?) called SJMade Town— a videogame-themed tour through some of our local artists’ and retailers’ virtual stores. Browse through and buy local from some really cool vendors you may not have known existed! (It’s possible I’ve already purchased an “Emotional Baggage” tote from Dollgirls and have my eye on a beeswax candle from Dandy Roots). 

What San Jose-themed virtual experiences are you finding? Share them with our readers (and us — we can’t get enough!)

The 7 Wonders of the San Jose World

The Taj Mahal. The Great Wall of China. Chichen Itza. And…Lick Observatory?

Okay, it might be a BIT of a stretch to say that San Jose houses any world wonders, but we certainly have distinctive landmarks that leave visitors thinking “hmmmmm,” historically significant buildings, and structures that “inspired” (were stolen) other, arguably more famous structures (how dare you, Gustave Eiffel).

With that in mind, we humbly offer up to you the 7 Wonders of San Jose that represent South Bay heritage–if not world heritage.

1. The Winchester Mystery House
I don’t think anyone could legitimately argue that this confounding “beautiful but bizarre” mansion of eccentric heiress Sarah Winchester should be at the top of the list of wonders in San Jose.

A pre-1906 view of the house from the south.

Designated #868 on the National Register of Historic Places (though #13 would have been more apropos), Sarah’s place is 24,000 square feet of utter weirdness featuring 10,000 windows (including an incredibly expensive Tiffany stained glass window through which light will never pass), 2000 doors (including one that leads to a 2-story drop to the ground),160 rooms (including a seance room with 3 ways in but only 1 way out), 52 skylights, 47 stairways (one that leads to nowhere, and one that takes you up 44 steps and 7 sharp turns to go just 9 feet up), 47 fireplaces, 17 chimneys, 13 bathrooms, 6 kitchens, 3 elevators…and just one shower.

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2. Mt. Umunhum
The spelling of this San Jose wonder is a wonder in itself, let alone its intriguing stories where Native American culture meets military history. “Mt. Um” is the 4th highest peak in the Santa Cruz mountain range, and sitting atop it like a Christmas tree angel is a cement structure known as “The Cube”–a radar tower that operated from the late 1950’s to 1980 and was used to keep an eye out for enemy airfighters in the Cold War.

Top of Mt. Umunhum

Perhaps the thing that San Jose natives remember most about Mt. Um is that it was closed off to the public for many years due to hazardous materials, hazardous footing, and just hazards in general. But, in 2017, the newly hazardous-waste-free land was opened to the public and has become a popular hiking, biking, and gorgeous-view-taking-in destination. If you dare, you can hike or bike to Mt. Umunhum by way of Hicks Road (9 miles)…but, as we’ve explored before, venturing out onto Hicks road isn’t for the faint of heart. (Especially if you’re anxious about a run-in with the “faint of skin pigment” colony of hostile albinos rumored to hide along the roadside). Our pick? Drive up to Bald Mtn. Parking, and hike the more accessible 3.5 mile trail to the summit.

3. The San Jose Light Tower
In 1881 a gentleman by the name of Gustave Eiffel visited San Jose to marvel at, well, the wonder that is San Jose naturally, but also to take a gander at an incredible structure that had been built there — the pyramid-shaped San Jose Electrical Light Tower, meant to eliminate the need for expensive gas street lamps. Eiffel took a gooooood hard look at the design of the 237 foot tower looking something like this:

And wouldn’t you know it! Something BIZARRELY similar ended up in Paris less than a decade later looking something like this! :

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Je sens un SCANDALE.

The original tower deemed “too dang bright” for farmers and San Jose dwellers of the late 1800’s ended up collapsing in 1915, but today, you can visit a smaller replica at History Park in San Jose and decide for yourself if the urban legend of one of the greatest thefts of IP in all of history is, perhaps, ultimately true.

4. The Oldest Residence in San Jose — The Peralta Adobe

Right smack dab in the middle of some of downtown’s best nightlife in San Pedro Square stands a lone adobe structure — the historical centerpiece of the public market. This humble abode is the Peralta Adobe, built in 1797 by an Apache Indian who was also the first resident of San Jose. Luis Maria Peralta, who served in a high position as commisioner of the community, moved in after him in 1808.

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After a series of Peraltas lived in that house, it at different points served as a storage facility for wine, fruit, and even plumbing supplies. The City of San Jose bought the “fixer upper” in 1966, restored it, and got it placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.

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San Jose celebrates its birthday annually through festivals around the adobe house (we turn 244 this year!), and–perhaps in its greatest claim to fame–it was featured on a California postage stamp in 1977. If that doesn’t say “you left a legacy,” I don’t know what does.

5. Lick Observatory

Nestled high atop Mt. Hamilton is an observatory that has been serving seasoned and aspiring astronomers since 1888.

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Owned by the University of California now, it was originally founded by…a well-known astronomer? No. A starry-eyed, planetarium-dwelling, space-obsessed academic? Incorrect. It was founded by James Lick — real estate investor, carpenter, piano builder, and–as it happened– one of the wealthiest men in California (THE wealthiest, at the time of his death).

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He was also, evidently, totally full of it; sources say at one point he wanted to build enormous statues of himself and construct a pyramid resembling the Great Pyramid of Giza in his honor (World Wonder tie in!). While not an astronomer, he was a science nerd, and allocated the largest portion of his fortune to Lick Observatory, which at the time housed the most powerful and biggest telescope ever built. Today, visitors can tour the observatory, hear a variety of lectures, enjoy special events including symphonic music under the stars on warm summer nights, buy a pair of Lick Observatory Celestial Socks, and yes–even get married.

And while Lick didn’t end up using his hard-earned cash to erect pyramids or statues to celebrate the wonder that was himself, he did manage to secure an out of this world honor: Lick Crater on the moon? That’s all James.

6. Heritage Rose Garden

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Spanning 5 acres, featuring 4000 plants and 2,800 varieties of “heritage, modern, and miniature roses,” it’s hard to believe that The San Jose Heritage Rose Garden was once a weed-covered dirt lot blemish on the outskirts of downtown San Jose. According to the official website,

A joint venture of the City of San Jose, the Guadalupe River Park Conservancy, the South Bay Heritage Rose Group, and the many dedicated civic volunteers who continue to propagate, plant, fertilize, prune, weed, catalog and care for our precious collection of roses.”

And, if that’s not enough, they also compellingly add,

“We’re on the list of Top Fun Things to Do in San Jose!”

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This lovely oasis is dripping with charm and beauty. Meant to be a version of New York’s Central Park in the heart of San Jose, the garden is bowl-shaped with a middle that’s 5 feet deep, and sources say from that vantage point a visitor could see every plant from any point in the garden. You can adopt a rose for $50/year, but even if you’re overcome with amorosity don’t pick one whatever you do or you’ll be out $500 for the most expensive bouquet you’ll ever give.

7. The Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum

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Step through the doors of this museum established in 1927, and be prepared for a legit blast from the past. In fact, the experience starts well BEFORE the doors on the karnak-style front entrance to the museum featuring grand columns, statues, and plenty of photo opps to feed your Instagram need.

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The museum’s claim to fame is that it houses the largest collection of Egyptian artifacts in the Western US, and among the most popular exhibits (through which over 100,000 visitors tour each year) are a variety of mummies, a full replica of a rock-cut tomb that visitors can walk through featuring gorgeous artistic scenes from The Book of the Dead, an extensive alchemy exhibit, and galleries featuring artifacts pertaining to daily life, rulers, religion, and Egyptian beliefs regarding the “great beyond.” Take a walk through the gardens outside to encounter koi ponds, a fantastic labyrinth, sphynx statues, and–once again–plenty of areas to pose for Insta-perfect pics.

The site also features the 5th planetarium built in the US housed in a building of Moorish design.

An…8th wonder? 

HONORABLE MENTION: The infamous Quetzalcoatl statue in Cesar Chavez park downtown. As in it’s a WONDER we paid for this. (Nailed it).

Take the “7 Wonders in One” Challenge! We bet you can’t visit all 7 Wonders in one day!

Orchestria Palm Court: Where the players play

Close to the convention center, a hop, skip, and a jump away from Cesar Chavez park, and right next to The Stage Theater (also a new SJ favorite haunt–more on that in a future post!) you’ll hear the delightful, twinkling sounds of a multitude of pianos…but only a couple nights a week for a few hours a day.

The hidden San Jose gem we’re featuring today is the truly unique Orchestria Palm Court, a walk back in time to the early 1900’s where the comfort food is outstanding, the waiters wear sleeve garters, and you’re entertained by player pianos that come to life one-by-one, providing a merry soundtrack for your meal.

Surrounded by invisible musicians

Orchestria features music written in the ‘teens and 20’s of last century, played as you would have heard it then—on music machines. Fitting, really, that these machines, considered “high tech” in their day, are now at home one of the world’s most important birthplaces of modern technology. The owners plan their musical selections based on seasonality, including French music for Bastille Day, specific composers’ music for their birthdays, and carols for the whole of December. That said, they’ll also take your special request for your favorite jazz or ragtime song from the era—you know you have one.

Is that a…phone booth?

The decor and ambience is like nothing you’ve ever seen before—especially in San Jose. The building itself is a refurbished brick building from 1910, and the inside is made to look like a bar or restaurant from the early 20th century—complete with kitschy lamps and chandeliers, travel posters, rolls and rolls of player piano music stacked high, and–of course—the aforementioned plethora of pianos. Also featured is a self-playing violin from 1925, the “Violano-Virtuoso” which uses electromagnetic technology to play along with a piano accompaniment.


  • RESERVE, RESERVE, RESERVE: Because they’re only open about 6 hours a week, they’ll likely be fully booked if you try to walk in.
  • Order the Austrian Goulash. Your life will be changed for the better.
  • Don’t just dine and dash! Get up and look around—this place is like a museum, restaurant, bar, and concert all in one.

The Fight for the Swine Sign

Across the street from Poor House Bistro and Diridon Station is a pig not quite as famous as Wilbur, not quite as well known as Babe, but to San Jose, is his own special, porcine celebrity.

The Dancing Pig on the vintage Stephen’s Meat Products sign has been proudly hoofing it since the 1950’s…even after the business closed. But, contrary to what people believe, weather happens in San Jose, and the iconic sign fell into disrepair. Cue pigpen jokes.

This didn’t sit well with the Preservation Action Council of San Jose (PAC*SJ) who has been trying to raise money to revitalize the sign for quite some time. And with “Google Village” slated to move into town riiiiiight around Montgomery, they’re working even harder to raise awareness.

Ideally, they note, Google would absorb this piece of San Jose history and physically feature it in some way. (Or digitally– it would make a HECK of a Google Doodle). 


We caught up with John from Preservation Action Council of San Jose (PAC*SJ) during their most recent fundraiser at Poor House Bistro on February 25, where 25% of food and beverage sales went to perking up the pig. Here’s what he had to say about why they’re doing this at all:



Landmarks. In a city that could easily be seen as just corporate buildings and suburban sprawl, there’s still a need to “find yourself” in this place. Some find themselves in our history, even with something so ordinary as a vintage meat products sign. Others find themselves in looking ahead to the future, with new businesses and buildings that facilitate the constant innovation happening here. 

And there’s certainly enough room here for both. No snout about it. 

Cool Runnings: An Interview with Treatbot

It’s a hot Thursday in June. You want some ice cream. But dang it, you also want to SING.


I’m sure we’ve all been in this predicament before, and the good news is, San Jose’s infamous Treatbot karaoke ice cream truck is the answer—bringing the songs AND the sweetness to delighted San Jose residents for 7 years.

To kick off our new summer series featuring the best of the best in San Jose ice cream, we were lucky enough to catch up with Treatbot owner Christine to get answers to some of the questions that have been chilling in our readers’ and our minds.


What led to the birth of the Treatbot?

We started Treatbot in 2010 hoping to have  a “side business” after I had my son. We had paid all our debt off and had quite a bit of savings and money to invest from other sources so it was either buy a house or start a food truck. So we decided to start a food truck. With the economic downturn at the time all our equipment and labor was inexpensive and it was a good time to get our foot in the door as food trucks were up and coming at the time in the Bay Area. Everyone was doing fusion food but no one was doing gourmet dessert, so we decided to go for ice cream sandwiches and then add karaoke onto the truck to give us a niche but also add our personal “flavor” to the truck, because we love karaoke. After all the love we got from social media and fans loving the concept, it was hard to stop the momentum and it became more than a side business and has become our passion and livelihood.

We need the ‘dish’: What’s your most popular flavor of ice cream?

It’s “408” hands down—our caramel ice cream, fudge ripple and crushed oreos. However Eastside Horchata comes in a close second, which is our cinnamon flavored ice cream fashioned after the Mexican rice drink. Closely after that is our Filipino flavors Macapuno (young candied coconut) and Ube (purple yam).

What’s the weirdest flavor you’ve put out there?

Bacon and Cheese, Durian, Banana, with peanut butter and bacon.

Talk a bit about the “karaoke” part of the Treatbot Karaoke Ice Cream Truck. Do you still give people the opportunity to sing? Or are you pretty stationery in San Pedro Market Square now?

At our store at the San Pedro Square Market we have karaoke every Thursday night from 7:30-10:00 pm. We are revamping our karaoke on the truck so that we have it available for the masses more often for public events. It’s a big part of our roots. Being of Filipino descent, karaoke is a huge part of family parties, so it’s a special thing. Add ice cream to that and you have good clean fun!

What’s the strangest song choice someone’s made when singing with Treatbot?

Strangest song….hmmm that’s a tough one. I can’t say, to be honest, because karaoke can be strange and wonderful all in one fell swoop whether you know the song or you don’t. It really depends on the person singing.

What’s a song you WISH people would do?

My personal preference would be some older R&B. A lot of pop gets done, and show tunes, but not enough oldies. That’s my jam and I’d love to hear more….maybe we’ll start doing themed nights so we can hear some of this stuff!

We want an invite to the first theme night if you do! Final question: How do you feel about San Jose, and what makes you passionate to operate here?

What makes us passionate to operate here is that this is our home and we want to make our home awesome to be in. We want to put it “on the map.” There is so much diversity here that breeds our creativity along with the innovation of Silicon Valley. It truly is a special place a diamond in the rough.

To get a scoop of 408, visit Treatbot in San Pedro Public Market, or learn more at

San Jose Celebs: Places Woz Eats

Guys — we love Steve Wozniak, amitrite? He’s integral to the tech world, he has a street in San Jose named after him, his dancing skills are unparalleled, and most importantly, he’s a lover of some of our favorite franchise eateries. Woz is known for taking to Twitter and noting the (very ordinary) culinary delights he’s enjoying around San Jose.

Want to run into Woz? Try heading to some of the favorite haunts he’s been frequenting this year:

Outback Steakhouse, Campbell — seems to be a fave of his lately! 


Marie Callenders, San Jose

Famous Daves, San Jose

Mandarin Gourmet, Cupertino

Jalisco, Campbell

The Old Spaghetti Factory, San Jose

Hickr’y Pit, Campbell


Got dogs? Have a canine playdate with Woz and his pups Ziggy and Zelda at Butcher Dog Park or Blossom Hill Park.

Interested in seeing a movie? Sit shoulder to shoulder with Woz at AMC Saratoga 14.

San Jose’s 2017 Resolutions


You’re not the only one that wants to hit a few key goals this year.

We at Searchlight SJ think that our fine city would want to make some changes for itself too. Here are just a few ways San Jose can win 2017. 


Resolution 1: Get the kids to stop drawing on the walls

We love the art on the power boxes throughout San Jose. On our overpasses and city signage however? Not so much. The city is already working on solutions to problems, including crowdsourcing ideas through Unleash Your Geek San Jose, where the Mayor has called for groups to come up with creative solutions for fast graffiti removal for a cash prize.

Resolution 2: Lower rent prices

As of December 2016, a one bedroom apartment rents for nearly $2500/month on average here in San Jose. Many of us have reconciled ourselves to the fact that in order to live in one of the most pristine climates in the nation, we’re willing to also live in an expensive shoebox. Nonetheless, it would be great to see those prices drop and make San Jose an awesome AND affordable place to live.

Resolution 3: Get another Michelin star restaurant

San Jose saw its first Michelin star restaurant with the contemporary Portuguese cuisine at ADEGA, where it can take months to secure a reservation. Why not improve our chances of getting in and up our culinary cred by adding another Michelin-worthy eatery?

Resolution 4: The ultimate Shark attack

We missed the mark on the Stanley cup by thismuch last year. Currently, our San Jose Sharks are leading the Western Conference, and with any luck, the mayor will be receiving a goody basket this year, not giving one.

Resolution 5: Fewer tents, more shelters

Homelessness has become a major issue for San Jose that we’re actively working to fix by developing solutions such as modular temporary homes and “recycling” those run down, shady motels and turning them into viable housing options.

What do you think should be on San Jose’s resolution list?

A bet, a beating, and a basket: Mayor Liccardo’s San Jose-themed gifts to Pittsburgh’s mayor

By: Vaughn and Jordan

As many of you know, the Sharks didn’t bring home the Stanley Cup. (I know, I know–sorry to reopen the wound).  What you might not have known is that Bill Peduto, the Mayor of Pittsburg and our very own Mayor Sam Liccardo had a friendly bet riding on the series. First, the losing mayor had to take a picture in the opposing team’s jersey and post it to social media. (It’s too painful to repost here. We’re sorry. We just can’t do it). Second, the losing mayor would send a gift basket full of treats representing his city to the winning mayor.


If you missed Mayor Liccardo’s basket on social media, here it is:

Mayor Basket

Looks like a great assortment, but what IS all of that in there? And more importantly, WHY is it in there? And most importantly of all, what’s missing that should have been included?


Let’s take a closer look at the contents:


Schurra’s Fine Confections

Schurra’s has been in business on the Alameda for over 100 years providing fine confectionary treats to young and old alike.  A strong choice from the Mayor regardless of if he went with chocolates, brittle, or the delightful Beethoven Bon Bon’s (and why not, as readers know San Jose is home to the Beethoven Center).  See’s Candies might be the first shop people think of concerning Bay Area candies but do yourself a favor, skip the chaos and go to Schurra’s instead.


La Vic’s Orange Sauce

La Vic’s has become so synonymous with their oddly addicting and widely adored orange sauce that they proudly proclaim themselves as, “the home of the orange sauce” and after Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto polishes off the bottle of J. Lohr and the sixer of Gordon Biersch he too will undoubtedly fall in love with the delightful concoction.  While Liccardo can share the La Vic’s orange sauce he’ll never be able to tell about its ingredients.  La Vic’s, who claim that the sauce originated in their first restaurant near the SJSU campus, continues to keep the recipe secret to this day.  


Greenlee’s Bakery Best Cinnamon Bread

Liccardo continued his stroll a bit further down the Alameda to visit Greenlee’s Bakery and pick up a loaf of their nationally renowned cinnamon bread.  Greenlee’s has been baking in San Jose for over 90 years and thanks to QVC, Amazon, and Costco the delightfully tempting and aromatic bread has become available beyond the South Bay.  It’s unclear how Greenlee’s cinnamon bread earned the honor of being the best but take one bite and I’m sure you’ll agree.  


Gordon Biersch beer

Arguably, the most popular brewery in San Jose is the beloved Gordon Biersch brewery and bottling facility, opened in 1997 and designed by Dan Gordon himself. It’s state-of-the-art, uses San Jose water so you get a taste of San Jose in every sip, and offers fact-filled tours of the brewery throughout the week. Not to mention a few other secrets we’ve uncovered as well. A perfect addition to the basket; we can see Mayor Peduto pairing it with one of those Pittsburgh pierogis now…


Fruit cocktail

Yes, ladies and gentlemen: the familiar go-to serving of canned fruit from our childhoods has its origins here in fine city of San Jose. The first reference to delicious, syrupy pear, peach, cherry, and…whatever other chunks are in there being referred to as “fruit cocktail” was right here in San Jose in 1930. Ignore that this can is Raley’s brand; the original San Jose fruit cocktail was produced by Herbert Gray of San Jose’s Barron-Gray Packing Company. (Though the jury is out on this. For a rundown of the great “Fruit Cocktail Mystery” check out the online History San Jose exhibit).

J. Lohr wine

First of all, if you’re not having a sip of J. Lohr wine as you read this, stop right now and go pick some up. I’ll give you a few minutes…

Back? Okay good. And cheers.


J. Lohr Winery, established in 1974, has become a local favorite in a city not known for its fine wines. In 2013, it was named Tasting Panel Magazine’s Winery of the Year. It’s become so popular, the mayor’s basket wouldn’t have been complete without it. You can find their wine in most grocery stores around the city, as well as at the winery itself. (Which you should definitely plan to hit up for your next date night; check their events calendar to see when they have live music and special pairings/tastings).


Chiaramonte’s Sausage

We reached out to the Mayor’s office to find out Liccardo’s sausage of choice from Chiaramonte’s Deli & Sausages however aides declined to comment (ok, fine they didn’t even reply)*.  It doesn’t really matter if it was the Italian hot sausage or the Portuguese smoked sausage, we know regardless that Chiaramonte’s is San Jose’s go to for handmade sausages.  Contrasting the burgeoning La Vic’s, Chiaramonte’s has quietly remained a South Bay staple of sausage for over 100 years from its quaint deli just outside of Japantown.  Come for a taste of Sicily, stay for the cool collection of antiques and the beautiful vintage sign outside.  

*Mayor Liccardo responded to confirm that it was the spicy Italian sausage.  A fine choice indeed.

So what’s missing? While it poses shipping issues, Eggo waffles invented in San Jose in 1953 (and a LOVELY accompaniment to fruit cocktail, I might add) would be a critical addition to this basket. Also burnt almond cake from either Dick’s Bakery or Peters’ Bakery (don’t even get us started on THIS rivalry!) has become a food synonymous with the city. And, seeing that San Jose was the first commercial producer of broccoli, for good measure—and a pop of color—a nice heap of broccoli would top this whole basket off.

And perhaps a challenge to a rematch next year.