Renovations are underway at a vacant building in downtown San Jose that some consider an eyesore. It’s all to make way for a new concept, a bar and old school arcade.
For six years, an iconic, historic corner of East Santa Clara and Second Street in downtown San Jose, a building has remained desolate and dark. It was once popular nightclub called Toons. Now, the lights are coming back on.
“We want this place on a Friday and Saturday night to be as loud and vibrant as the arcade machines themselves,” said George Lahlouh of San Jose.
Dan Phan and George Lahlouh are San Jose natives who are leasing the space from owner Lift Properties based in San Francisco. Their vision is to transform the 5,500 square-foot space into a bar and arcade similar to Coin-Op in San Francisco.
“People in the South Bay are clamoring for this stuff and for me, I don't want to have to drive to Oakland or San Francisco to have that type of experience,” said Phan. “Why can't we do it here?”
Construction drawings map out two bars and a food stand sprinkled with arcade machines reminiscent of the 80's and 90's arcade culture era.
“The strategy with the city, the economic development department,” said Scott Knies of the San Jose Downtown Association. “We are all trying to stand out from the malls and to have a unique experience here and local flavor.”
Knies said the transformation is part of a downtown boom, different than in years past because of a greater investment for the future. There’s more high-rise residential housing popping up with talk of Amazon, Adobe and Google heading this way.
“The earth kind of shifted a month ago with the Google announcement and you could feel the momentum changing,” said Knies.
For Phan and Lahlouh, they know how to do business in downtown coming off the heels of the success of Paper Plane on South First Street and Original Gravity next door.
“When you put quality establishments in place, the crowd changes, the atmosphere on the street changes” said Lahlouh.
“Now you see residences coming up, buildings getting filled out and it should be a really great downtown in the years to come,” said Phan.
Now in the design process, the place is expected to open in February or March of next year with plans to hire 40 people.