It has been discussed here before many times about how to make San Jose a cooler, hipper, more “it” place to be, but it seems as if Campbell may have cornered the market on “it.” Whenever you seem to meet a nice, young person in the South Bay, if they don’t commute back and forth from San Francisco, inevitably, if you ask them where they live or where they spend most of their time, it’s Campbell.
It’s a great community to live in, houses that are cheaper than Los Gatos (well, really what isn’t?) and comparable to San Jose prices. But they have done a great job with the downtown from when I used to work down there eight years ago. Coffee places, great breakfast joints, family places like Sonoma Chicken Coop and Aqui, and fun bars like the Cardiff Lounge, The Spot, Khartoum and Katie Bloom’s. They have really rounded it out with all the things that a district needs to be sustainable and hip; retail and restaurants, bars and apartments—a nice little mix of all four things that San Jose has been so challenged to do.
Mind you, their “downtown” is only a street long when San Jose is dealing with a larger area, with more crime and many more hurdles. But I still think there is a lot you can learn from Campbell. They didn’t start as much, and years ago, the only destination in Campbell would have been the Pruneyard—but something shifted and Campbell became…cool.
More often that not, after a night out in Campbell, I think to myself how I am meeting a nice, young crowd who all seem on the same page—wanting a good time without the hassle of driving up to San Francisco for the night. It will never compare, but little ol’ Campbell is doing a hell of a job becoming the new “it” place.