Downtown San Jose Food Hall dishes up grand opening at choice site

Downtown San Jose Food Hall dishes up grand opening at choice site

SAN JOSE — A downtown San Jose Food Hall dished up on Wednesday a grand opening that was stuffed with customers, offering hope that these kinds of lively venues can help jump-start the economy of the city’s urban core.

The CloudKitchens venue, a years-long hush-hush venture, has officially hopped out of stealth mode to offer dining experiences to customers both online and in person.

The Food Hall is more than a restaurant and food endeavor. Local business leaders and politicians hope that the new operation can help downtown San Jose escape the perils of a doom loop that menaces urban centers nationwide.

“There’s no doom loop in downtown San Jose,” Mayor Matt Mahan said during the event. “Downtown is booming. It’s back. Foot traffic is back.”

Travis Kalanick, former chief executive officer of the ride-hailing company Uber, is the CEO of CloudKitchens, a ghost kitchen enterprise that developed the project at the corner of East Santa Clara Street and South Third Street. It’s located in a historic building on one of the downtown’s key intersections.

“San Jose’s Downtown Food Hall introduces an innovative business model tailored to the diverse needs of our downtown community, workers, students, and most importantly, residents,” Councilmember Omar Torres said. “This fresh perspective adds an exciting and dynamic element to our downtown landscape.”

CloudKitchens officials are pleased with the crowds that are dining at the venue during its early days of operation at 82 East Santa Clara Street.

“The response has been incredible,” said Grace Lin, general manager of CloudKitchens. “We are seeing a lot of activation for our lunch hour.”

About four restaurants were open for the grand opening, but that number is slated to steadily increase, CloudKitchens officials say. San Jose’s Downtown Food Hall expects to be able to accommodate 26 restaurants.

“It’s going to be a slow and steady rollout,” Lin said. “We expect to add one or two a day.”

Mercy Mediterranean, Luna’s Halal Taqueria, Azuma Japanese Sushi and Sweet Please were listed as being open.

“When you come to eat here, all of you, you are not just eating food, you are coming together,” said Shabana Serang, owner of Mercy Mediterranean. “I want you to come together as who you are and how you are.”

Representatives of downtown businesses also are gambling that the Food Hall takes off and helps revitalize this immediate section of the urban district.

“For many years this corner provided furniture to the community. Now it will serve as a launching pad for dozens of small food businesses,” said Alex Stettinski, chief executive officer of the San Jose Downtown Association. “This is one of the most prominent corners in the heart of downtown. We are thrilled to see it activated once again.”