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!)

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?