Pizzetta 408, Other Downtown Storefronts to Close for Good

The pandemic and related closures haven’t been kind to small businesses—especially restaurants. But the past week has brought a slew of closures or announcements from restaurants set to shutter for good before the new year starts.

The latest restaurant to throw in the kitchen towel is Pizzetta 408, a Neapolitan wood-fired pizza joint that has been in the SoFA Market in downtown San Jose since early 2017. It’s planning to close for good as of Dec. 31.

Pizzetta 408 follows a slew of other closures in the market, including Vero Coffee, which closed in October after its lease expired. Vitamina, a smoothie and juice bar in the food hall, served its last granola bowl in June.

“All of the closures weren’t surprises to us, because they actually coincided with the leases ending,” said David Ma, general manager of the SoFA Market. “It was more like, ‘are you guys going to renew or not?’ And certainly, given the circumstances, people didn’t. We understood that.”

SoFA Market, a food hall that in its prime attracted thousands of visitors a week has struggled to keep that foot traffic moving during the pandemic. Some days the number of people who pass through the building is as low as 30, while health regulations have oscillated between allowing delivery and takeout only, to allowing outdoor dining and back again.

Currently, about seven restaurants are open and operating in the food hall, Ma said.

“We have some lonely nights there now,” he said. “We did see a little bit of a bounce-back when outdoor dining was OK’d and bars were able to serve as well, but since we had to pivot again, it’s a dead zone.”

Forager, another food hall and event center nearby, closed during the pandemic as rent became too large an obstacle after nine straight months in which large events were outlawed in the county. In its place will come a game lounge where Forager will be allowed to host its remaining events in the coming year.

But it’s not just food halls that are struggling during the pandemic. Other downtown restaurants and businesses have also announced their closure in the last week.

Chacho’s, which has been in San Jose since 1994 (with only a short stint in Campbell for a few years in the middle) is closing its once popular Santa Clara Street location for good. Jorge Sanchez, a representative for the restaurant and bar, packed up the pieces of the business late last week and told San Jose Inside he didn’t think he’d come back to the city again.

“I don't think downtown San Jose has anything to offer me anymore,” he said. “I've been through multiple, multiple administrations, and I've seen multiple growth [periods], multiple downfalls, the economic crisis, the bank collapse, the housing market, the dot-com bust, and now Covid. I think the golden years of downtown San Jose have passed.”

Not only has Chacho’s struggled with the pandemic shutdowns, but the storefront was damanged earlier this summer during the nationwide protests over police brutality following the murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. Then came the break-ins. Sanchez said the break-ins came as the homeless population grew in the area, which also made it less hospitable for patrons, even when outdoor dining was allowed.

“It’s just a world of hurt,” he said. “There’s a lot of homeless around here and they’re struggling. There’s a lot of addicts, there’s people that are trying to find food for their families, for themselves, as well as shelter.”

Though Chacho’s got some federal PPP money, it didn’t get any local city or county funds and went from employing 47 people and raking in $180,000 in revenue in its prime months, to having just seven employees serving a dwindling customer base.

Today the restaurant has about $147,000 in deferred rent and a $10,000 PG&E bill. When the State Board of Equalization came knocking for money, he knew it was over.

“The dam is bursting and I’m filling the little holes with my fingers and it’s just—it’s just futile,” Sanchez said. “It’s too much.”

Janice Bitters is managing editor for Metro Silicon Valley. Email tips to [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @janicebitters.

12 Comments

  1. ‘The Pandemic and related closures….’

    Nice.

    This lies squarely in the lap of our elected and appointed officials who still get a paycheck when all you losers get stiffed.

    The media has been all too happy to go along with this narrative.

    Way to go, you have broken the economy and added countless millions more people to living on the government dole.

    Julius Streicher, anyone.

  2. This is too painful to read.

    We could been describing a different scenario if the President would of taken this virus seriously. Instead he denied its existence and flooded Twitter with Qanon conspiracy theories leaving national leadership non existent.

    States fighting for resources and caught off guard by the information the president withholds. Shameful.

  3. “Sanchez said the break-ins came as the homeless population grew in the area, which also made it less hospitable for patrons, even when outdoor dining was allowed.”

    What will it take for the city to do something about this problem? Downtown San Jose was never Los Gatos, but it just isn’t safe to walk there now, even during the day.

  4. > We could been describing a different scenario if the President would of taken this virus seriously. Instead he denied its existence and flooded Twitter with Qanon conspiracy theories leaving national leadership non existent.

    QAnon?

    QAnon did this? An anonymous little nobody with an internet account wrecked the American economy and killed hundreds of thousands of people?

    And Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Adam Schiff, Gavin Newsom, Sam Liccardo, and Sara Cody were POWERLESS to do anything about it?

    So, until Joe Biden arrests QAnon, I’m predicting that the Biden administration will be a total flop. Biden is helpless.

  5. I feel for these Orange Man Bad NPCs…

    Whatcha gonna when he’s gone? gonna have to find another scapegoat, Putin retiring, China running the media, and the monuments toppled. Even Lincoln’s done cancelled.
    Who’s gonna be your new binky?

  6. Speaking of troubled local businesses, it looks like San Jose’s new hometown business, Google/YouTube, might be in a heap o’ trouble with the feds:

    > The two companies had a secret agreement where “Google agree[d] to give Facebook perks if the latter backs off from direct competition”, according to RT. The two companies, in true Silicon Valley-nerd fashion codenamed their secret pact after a Star Wars character, reportedly called it “Jedi Blue”.

    Someday, we may learn that certain California politicians may have been especially helpful in greasing the skids to make the Google/Facebook “collaboration” a thing of fundraising beauty. (wink, wink)

  7. > TDS is real and Orange man bad! Joe is here and will make everything better.

    The cargo cult is real.

    Just keep looking up at the sky and open your mouth. Joe and Kamala’s fleet of government carrier pigeons will drop something tasty into your beak.

  8. People are leaving Santa Clara County to work remotely in more comfortable surroundings. This leaves behind the homeless and people who cannot afford to dine out. Anticipate more small business closures and departures.

  9. Liccardo. Chavez. Peralez. The three idiots.
    24 years of death in D3. And these three fools have collected paychecks after paycheck.
    Who do we get next?

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