San Jose’s iconic Poor House Bistro is moving, fleeing the path of development proposed by Google’s Downtown West project. But it’s not just the business that’s moving—the whole building is coming, too.
The 100-year old Victorian home known for some of San Jose’s finest New Orleans cuisine and music is moving about a mile away to Little Italy.
“I’m excited about it, the cat’s out of the bag now,” said Poor House owner Jay Meduri.
The Poor House Bistro lies just steps from Diridon Station and right in the path of Google’s coming Downtown West development.
Questions have abounded about the New Orleans-themed restaurant’s future for more than two years now, after Google bought the land underneath it in 2019. The company had been buying up parcels of land nearby since 2017 though a development partner at the time, Trammel Crow, which is no longer working with Google to develop its massive San Jose mixed-use campus.
“I knew there was one of three things that could happen,” Meduri said about the restaurant—and the house’s—fate. “It could become part of the Google village, we could move the house, or third, we demolish it and start over.”
Meduri said Google is helping foot the bill for the feat, which won’t be the first time the house has been picked up and moved. When Meduri’s grandparents came to San Jose from Italy in the early 20th century, the house sat on 11th street. Meduri’s grandfather had it moved to the building’s current location.
A Google spokesperson on Thursday confirmed that the company would help with the Poor House's move financially, but said they could not yet comment on any specifics.
Given his family’s Italian heritage, Meduri said, it’s a no brainer to move to Little Italy. The house will be placed next to the district’s cultural museum on West St. John Street.
“When I presented the idea of Poor House Bistro coming to Little Italy with the New Orleans cuisine, and the vibe of the old Victorian house ... everyone seemed to be receptive,” Meduri said.
According to the Little Italy community’s website, the neighborhood site of the original settlement for Italian immigrants in the area dating back to the 1880's.
Little Italy San Jose founder Joshua DeVincenzi Melander said he’s been enthusiastic about the project from the beginning.
“My only hesitation was that it’s a Mardi Gras New Orleans restaurant,” DeVincenzi Melander said. “I said that I’m totally open to this, but we’ve got to make it Italian.”
Meduri had no problem with that.
Customers will still be able to enjoy the food Poor House is known for, and there will still be music. But expect a few changes.
“So we said, hey let’s blend New Orleans Mardi Gras with (Italian) Carnevale,” DeVincenzi Melander said.
He said there’s already plans for events that blend the Italian and New Orleans heritage.
“It will be Famiglia Meduri’s Poor House Bistro, and because Mardi Gras was actually invented in Venice as Carnevale, so we’ll incorporate that theme,” Meduri said. “It’s going to be cool to add that vibe to it.”
The timeline is still in the works, Meduri said. The restaurant will likely stay open through August, while an architect draws up plans and other arrangements are made for the move. But fans of the bistro might expect to see the old house in a new spot, open to the public, by next year.
During the move, Meduri said, he wants to make sure the bistro’s food will still be available from a food truck nearby. For updates, fans can stay tuned to the restaurant’s Facebook page.
“Rome wasn’t built in a day,” Meduri said, “and neither was the Poor House.”