Restaurants and bars in San Jose’s downtown “Entertainment Zone” got a later curfew this week, after city officials extended outdoor operating hours from 10pm to midnight.
Most of the businesses in the area are already allowed by permit to stay open until midnight, but have been forced to shutter a couple hours early because the city-wide emergency ordinance passed in June that let restaurants and other businesses to take up public spaces to let customers eat and drink “al fresco” came with the earlier curfew.
And while a 10pm curfew might work for most parts of the city, downtown is different, according to city officials. The entertainment zone is bounded by Highway 87, Julian Street, Fourth Street and Interstate 280, encompassing the SoFA District and San Pedro Square Market.
“Many establishments have only recently re-opened for sit-down service and have made considerable financial investments in equipment and additional staff to conduct business outdoors,” Kim Walesh, San Jose’s economic development director, said in a memo this week. “Also, while Downtown has a growing residential population, the small number of residents that live in close proximity to establishments in the Downtown Entertainment Zone are accustomed to businesses operating until midnight.”
Most businesses operating in downtown, city-owned streets, parklets and parking lots—primarily restaurants and bars—are allowed to close at midnight as of Thursday. San Jose City Council members will vote Nov. 3 on also allowing downtown businesses operating outdoors on private property or city sidewalks to stay open later.
On Oct. 14, Santa Clara County loosened restrictions, allowing restaurants to serve food indoors, but only at 25 percent capacity. The loosened restrictions also allow bars to serve customers outdoors.
Despite the loosened restrictions, many businesses in the city’s urban core remain closed, including The Ritz nightclub, Continental Bar and Lounge and theaters and comedy clubs like San Jose Improv.