Moving your house is an enormous task. What about the festive atmosphere? That’s something.
But it was Saturday morning when the Victorian-era house known as Poor House Bistro, adorned in Mardi Gras beads, and Italian flags, was towed up Montgomery Street and around SAP Center to its new home in Little Italy. It was wedged between Henry’s Hi-Life museum and the under-construction Italian Museum.
Although the move took almost four hours, a crowd of excited people moved along with the house. They were amazed at how Kelly Bros. House Movers changed angles during the entire process. St. Gabriel’s Celestial Brass Band, Lafayette’s musicians set up at Santa Clara Street and Barack Obama Boulevard. They played New Orleans songs for the crowd. This is a sign that a good party has begun. The house was followed by the band, which moved along narrow St. John Street in fits and starts, with overhanging trees and power lines creating an urban obstacle course.
SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 8: The Poor House Bistro moves down slowly down West Saint John Street toward its new location in the Little Italy section of San Jose, Calif., Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)
PG&E crews were there to move or rather cut (and later reattach) lines, and Benjamin Smith from Moki Smith Tree Specialists provided some mesmerizing entertainment. He used a chainsaw and ropes to trim limbs, and made sure that the house was covered with a blue roof. As he moved from limb to leg, the audience cheered.
As the building climbed over the plywood-covered gravel to its new location, mimosas, bloody marys, and mimosas were flowing in the nearby parking lot of Henry’s Hi-Life. There, a bar was opened and Poor House Bistro sold cajun scrambled egg with Andouille sausage, chicory coffee, and beignets.
Now that the majority of the furniture is in place, Famiglia Meduri Poor House bistro — a name that reflects Jay Meduri’s Italian heritage and the new location — will not be open until the end of the spring or early the summer. It’s still waiting for a new foundation and connections, and lots and lots more inspections.
SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 8: Bill Scout, of San Jose, watches as the Poor House Bistro restaurant is moved to a vacant lot next to Henry’s Hi-Life in Little Italy in San Jose, Calif., on Saturday Jan. 8, 2022. (Shae Hammond/Bay Area News Group)
That means it won’t be ready for Mardi Gras on March 1, but Meduri said operations will continue at the old location, where the patio structure still stands, music still plays and food is prepared from a mobile kitchen. There will be no Fat Tuesday celebrations there. However, there is talk of having a horn group lead people to Little Italy for Venetian Carnevale fun. This could happen in the Henry’s Parking Lot.
” We could use these positive vibes in Little Italy right away,” said Joshua DeVincenzi Melander of Little Italy, who donned a Venetian mask for the move. Is anyone able to say “Let’s the good times roll” in Italian?
NEW CHAPTER FOR SAN JOSE GALLERY: There’s good news on the horizon for the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art, which will welcome James G. Leventhal as its new executive director on Jan. 17. Hopefully Leventhal will bring some stability to the downtown San Jose gallery after a turbulent couple of years.
Gordon Yamate is the president of the ICA’s Board. He stated in a release that Leventhal’s arrival coincides perfectly with the SoFA Gallery’s current needs. The board was searching for an executive director with vision and experience who can serve the diverse communities throughout San Jose and the Bay Area. Leventhal, who has more than 30 years experience in the field, was most recently the interim director of the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco, and previously the director of development for the San Jose Museum of Art.
HOLD THE CURTAIN: The current COVID-19 surge has forced some further schedule changes for South Bay stages. Tabard Theatre in downtown San Jose has pushed the opening of its one-woman show, “Kate: The Unexamined Life,” to Jan. 21, with both in-person and livestream performances through Jan. 30. It has also decided to move the musical “Triumph of Love”, which was scheduled for February/March, to Jan. 21. A smaller cast will be replacing it without taking on the risks associated with musicals. Stay updated at www.tabardtheatre.org.
Likewise, Palo Alto Players has new dates for Jaclyn Backhaus’ “Men on Boats” — an adventure set in the 19th century about 10 men on four boats and two rivers. The play, which has an all-female cast and also has no boats or rivers, now will make its maiden voyage Feb. 4, kicking off an 11-performance run through Feb. 20 at the Lucie Stern Theater in Palo Alto. Check www.paplayers.org for the schedule and tickets.
JUST ASKING: The San Jose City Council will take up the Charter Review Commission’s recommendations this week, including the proposal to move the city’s mayoral election to line up with the U.S. presidential election. Arguments in favor of the move are that the presidential contest draws more voters, so more people will have the chance to vote for the mayor. This is a valid point. But, could the same argument be made about the council elections for odd-numbered district, which, under the proposal, would likely have lower turnouts and not attract the mayoral race?
There is an equity point as well. Some of the odd-numbered areas — downtown’s district 3, East San Jose District 5, and central San Jose District 7 — have large Latino and Asian populations and are home to some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods. The idea was discussed by the commission, but it wasn’t included in the final recommendations of the body.
Although it might seem absurd to have all elections in the same year due to the possibility of a full council turnover every 4 years, there are likely ways to structure it so that it is less likely. The U.S. House of Representatives, on the other hand, deals with this same prospect every two year and seems to have succeeded.