“Restaurant row” kicks off in downtown San Jose with mini golf venue

“Restaurant row” kicks off in downtown San Jose with mini golf venue

SAN JOSE — Urban Putt, a miniature golf venue in downtown San Jose with a unique flair, attracted big crowds for an open house ahead of its official launch that kicks off what one developer calls a new “restaurant row.”

In a sign that the mini golf venture could help spur downtown San Jose’s uneven convalescence from the economic woes the coronavirus unleashed, the venue was packed with customers for an open house this week.

People at the entrance to the Urban Putt miniature golf course on South First Street between East San Fernando Street and East San Carlos Street in downtown San Jose. (George Avalos/Bay Area News Group)
Winchester Mystery House replica in Urban Putt, a new miniature golf venue on South First Street in downtown San Jose. (George Avalos/Bay Area News Group)

The open house allowed Steve Fox, the creator and owner of Urban Putt, to work out the bugs in the operation as patrons played 18 holes with themes that recalled the Santa Clara Valley’s historic roots and its high-tech present and future.

“We had a wonderful party,” Fox said in an interview near the end of the open house on Feb. 27. “We stress-tested a lot of the holes. We found some things we’re going to be fixing, which we knew would happen. But basically, it’s a very good response.”

Steve Fox, owner and creator of Urban Putt, a new miniature golf venue in downtown San Jose on South First Street, looks at a table with a golf ball theme. (George Avalos/Bay Area News Group)

The course includes holes that feature downtown San Jose, complete with part of the city’s skyline and the historic Bank of Italy tower, the Winchester Mystery House, Shoreline Amphitheatre, Lick Observatory, the San Jose Electric Light Tower, Monterey Bay and the Pacific Ocean, a printed circuit board, and even a UFO that crashed-landed at an undisclosed site.

“This is the kind of unique venue that we need in downtown San Jose,” said developer Gary Dillabough, a real estate entrepreneur and Urban Community principal executive who attended the open house this week.

Visitors were able to play the course and mingle, drink and dine at various spots on the two levels of the venue. The levels consist of a main ground floor with mini golf holes and a mezzanine above.

“Downtown San Jose needs this kind of retail that’s an experience,” said Joshua Burroughs, chief operating officer and partner with Urban Catalyst, also an attendee at the event.

Urban Catalyst has redeveloped the long-shuttered Camera 12 site in a project to transform the former movie complex into a mixed-use restaurant, retail and office project at 201 South Second Street that’s called Paseo.

Paseo totals 100,000 square feet, including 25,000 square feet of ground-floor restaurant and retail spaces and 75,000 square feet of office space on the second and third floors.

Eos & Nyx, a new restaurant and drinks site from the entrepreneurs who launched Paper Plane and the MINIBOSS bar and arcade venues in downtown San Jose, is slated to open during the first half of this year.

Unofficial Logging, an ax-throwing and restaurant venture is also due to open in the first six months of 2024.

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Urban Putt, the first of the ground-floor merchants to open, has its entrance on South First Street on The Paseo de San Antonio between East San Fernando Street and East San Carlos Street.

The combination of the three entertainment, dining and drinking establishments can coalesce to create what Erik Hayden, founder and managing partner of Urban Catalyst, has called a “restaurant row” in downtown San Jose.

Urban Putt has scheduled its official opening for this evening.

The mini golf venue in San Jose is expected to create 55 jobs with its opening this week.

Fox, who created Urban Putt venues in San Francisco and Denver, later selling them to another mini golf operator, is seeing plenty of good signs with the early stages of his San Jose venture.

“It’s a very good response,” Fox said of the crowds Tuesday night during the open house as he checked on issues with various holes. “We have a short time to get everything completely ready, but we will get it done. It’s exciting to see all of this in action and to get started.”