Popular pub and restaurant at San Jose's Santana Row to close after 20 years

A longtime woman-owned restaurant and pub in San Jose, that for almost two decades served as a go-to for familiar faces, traditional Irish dishes, cocktails, and a couple of rounds of karaoke, has announced it’s closing its doors this month.

Rosie McCann’s Irish Pub & Restaurant has been operating at its Santana Row location for almost as long as the residential and shopping district has been around. 

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On Friday, the restaurant announced its impending closure, telling its patrons that the decision was made with "a heavy heart."

The restaurant said high operating costs in a post-pandemic environment were to blame.

"This was not an easy decision," Rosie McCann’s shared on social media, adding, "Rising costs, declining sales, and the harsh realities of running a restaurant after the pandemic were too great for this small female run family business to continue."

The restaurant was built from scratch, as owner Mina Shamsaei chose Santana Row to open her second Rosie McCann’s, only a year and a half after the West San Jose shopping district opened. 

Over the years, notable guests at the restaurant included former President Bill Clinton, who stopped by for a mojito and classic Irish Banger sausages, according to the restaurant’s website. 

(Rosie McCann’s Irish Pub & Restaurant)

Rosie's has offered its customers a mix of traditional Irish dishes along with California cuisine, craft cocktails and beers, and perhaps what will be most remembered by its regulars: a warm, fun, and inviting environment and a place for friends to gather.

(Rosie McCann’s Irish Pub & Restaurant)

On Facebook, the restaurant’s customers expressed their sadness over the closure.

"I’m crying right now. So many memories. Thank you for fun times," Ely Martins commented.

Sharon Mendelson posted, "Rosies was there for me to meet some of my best people."

Deidre Verzic shared that it was at the restaurant that a life-changing meeting happened.  "My husband and I went there on the night we met. Nearly 19 years later, we are still going strong!" she wrote.

There were words also from the owner’s niece. "Rosie McCann’s establishment wasn't just a place to dine; it was a haven of warmth, laughter, and unforgettable memories for everyone who walked through its doors," the niece shared. "It's been a beacon of joy, bringing people together and boosting spirits in ways only Mina knows how. Here's to the countless memories created, the lives touched, and the lessons learned."

Shamsaei thanked her customers for their support over the 20 years and also expressed her appreciation to her staff, saying, "It was my honor and pride to lead such an amazing group of people. I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to watch you grow in your careers, build your families, and most importantly develop into wonderful people." 

The owner invited customers to come by and have a pint before the establishment's closure, and reminded them that it wasn’t goodbye, saying the Santa Cruz site would remain open.

"We will cherish all of our devoted employees, beloved regulars, and everyone who made coming to Rosie’s part of their life," the restaurant said.

Rosie’s said its last day at Santana Row would be April 20.

"We were very disappointed to hear, we just heard yesterday, that they would be closing, and I think it’s a loss for Santana Row," said Laura Schilling, of San Jose. 

"I know the customers are sad. After COVID, the business has been declining, but it’s really about the staff and the family to me. We’ve been here for so long," said Manager Taylor Queral. 

Retail analysts say Santana Row is most likely in a transitional phase, with newer brands coming in and older businesses on the way out.

"I expect them to switch their tenant mix towards a little bit of a high-rent, tenant mix. But I don’t necessarily see them having to switch to a Miami Design Center, high-end location because that already exists over there," said Kirthi Kalyanam, Executive Director of the Retail Management Institute at Santa Clara University. 

Queral, who’s worked at McCann’s for nearly a decade, says she found out about the closing last week. She says some employees have been offered jobs at a 2nd location in downtown Santa Cruz, but the pub just couldn’t survive in a changing economic landscape.

"It’s just like inflation, we live in California, everything’s so expensive and trying to keep up with the cost of other restaurants in Santana Row makes it hard," said Queral. 

As customers and staff adjust to a new reality, they’re counting down the days until McCann’s closes for good. Daniel Roberts, who’s at the restaurant bar for the first time, says he lived in Europe for 14 years and having an Irish pub nearby reminded him of his former home.  

"Kind of surprised, actually. It’s very rare to find good Irish pubs in the South Bay. Actually, today as we were walking past, we said ‘oh great, let’s get some Irish food," said Roberts.