Merchant adds to downtown San Jose bet, leases prime restaurant site


SAN JOSE — A merchant with multiple venues in downtown San Jose aims to widen its presence in the city’s urban core by leasing a prime space in a high-profile project.

The entrepreneurs behind Original Gravity Public House, Paper Plane and Miniboss — all popular venues in downtown San Jose — have picked a spot for a new restaurant and bar with a lease in Paseo, a mixed-use redevelopment of a long-shuttered movie theater.

“We are bullish on downtown San Jose,” said Dan Phan, one of the principal executives of the venues. “We have our nucleus here. With all of the development activity happening, we think we will do very well here.”

Phan and his partners, Johnny Wang and George Lahlouh, have leased nearly 4,000 square feet at 201 S. Second St. in San Jose, said Joshua Burroughs, partner and chief operating officer with Urban Catalyst, a busy local developer.

Construction project at Paseo, a downtown San Jose mixed-use development at 201 S. Second St. that totals 100,000 square feet, April 2022. (George Avalos/Bay Area News Group)

At the South Second Street location, Urban Catalyst is developing Paseo, a mixed-use complex totaling 100,000 square feet on the site of the former Camera 12 movie multiplex.

“Urban Catalyst is thrilled to be partnering with such an amazing local operator, launching their fourth location and anchoring the ground floor corner of our Paseo project,” Burroughs said. “They have consistently brought some of the most creative food and beverage offerings to downtown.”

With this rental deal, Paseo has now leased space to three merchants with dining operations: Urban Putt, a miniature golf course operation, has leased 13,300 square feet; Unofficial Logging, an ax-throwing, restaurant and bar venue, leased 6,800 square feet; and the as-yet-unnamed restaurant and bar operation headed by Phan, Lahlouh and Wang rented 3,800 square feet.

“We can’t wait to have them open on the Paseo’s ‘Restaurant Row’,” Burroughs said of the new restaurant and bar concept from Phan, Lahlouh and Wang.

Plus, an unidentified restaurant has signed a letter of intent to lease another 2,500 square feet in Paseo, which would completely fill up the ground-floor restaurant and retail space.

Paseo mixed use project at 201 S. Second St. in downtown San Jose will add offices and retail at the shuttered Camera 12 site, concept. (HGA Architecture)

The next major task at some point this year will be to embark on the marketing of the office spaces totaling 75,000 square feet on the second and third floors of Paseo, according to Burroughs.

“We wanted to get all of the retail and the restaurants done first,” Burroughs said.

Original Gravity, Paper Plane and Miniboss — which is a bar and arcade with a retro look and feel — all are primarily drinking establishments that serve food.

Phan says the newest venture in the Paseo redevelopment will be primarily a restaurant that provides top-notch cocktails.

“We want this to be a restaurant that also has a nice bar,” Phan said. “We will offer brunch and dinner service. Even though we will have cocktails, food will be center stage.”

With a location that fronts on South Second Street as well as on the Paseo de San Antonio, Phan believes the new venture is poised for big-time success.

Phan says the venue will take advantage of the high first floor that served as the main lobby for the old movie theater.

“It’s a unique building and a great opportunity,” Phan said. “The 20-foot-high ceilings will be awesome,” Phan said.

With three well-established operations in downtown San Jose, Phan is seeing signs that downtown San Jose has begun to recuperate from the economic afflictions unleashed by the coronavirus and accompanying government-ordered business shutdowns.

“Things are definitely trending up,” Phan said. “Our weekend business has returned almost to the pre-COVID levels. Weekday business still has some catching up to do. We think downtown San Jose is getting more activity and we want to be part of that.”


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