More Club Closures Downtown

Will the last one out shut off the lights—and sound? Four downtown nightclubs—Wet, Pearl, Toons and Motif—have “closed for remodeling,” taken a break or gone dark for good in recent days. The closures follow a series of enforcement actions, and more could be on the way.

City Attorney Rick Doyle threatened last week to permanently shut down Club Wet following a violent New Year’s Eve incident; owner Mike Hamod responded that the city has been unfairly targeting his club—and downtown in general. Motif, a SoFA district nightclub across the street from Wet, had already announced a 30-day closure, citing among other things the city’s aggressive enforcement actions.

Armando Martinez, manager of Toons at Second and Santa Clara, has thrown in the towel, citing “unforeseen circumstances and various other factors.” He promises to reopen at a new location. All in all, the new year is not looking very bright downtown. Pearl Nightclub, formerly Studio 8 and prior to that Vivid, has an ABC Notice of Suspension posted on its door. Pearl will go full circle and re-emerge under its original name, Studio 8, its website promises. And Bayonne, SoFA’s inventive New Southern restaurant, sits empty after chef/owner Glenn “Gator” Thompson split town to deal with a reported family emergency, leaving his friends and creditors scratching their heads.

Miami Beach Club reopened a couple weeks back after its entertainment license was temporarily suspended; SJPD claimed the club failed to report a shooting. Meanwhile, on Saturday night, a triple homicide at the Mexicali Club out on Old Oakland Road put the lie to the notion that the downtown entertainment district has a monopoly on bad behavior. There’s no word as to whether that club will be allowed to stay in business.

The Fly is a weekly column written by San Jose Inside staff that provides a behind-the-scenes look at local politics.


  1. Downtown seems really dead.  More so in the restuarants.  Seems to the me the city’s get tough tourism / visitors has back fired really bad.

    All the restaurants seem dead, the bar scene is dead, the club seen is a joke at best, the museums are dead, the convention center is dead.  Even the office spaces are dead.

    San Jose is just a real sad stupid city.  But don’t worry, baseball will save us.  LOL.

  2. Great job by the city to drive away businesses. Any clubs may have violence, how is that the clubs fault? Other big cities seem to handle it why can’t SJ? This is so typical of our government now a days, if you have any problems or impact the environment then the government must shut you down. Great way to get more tax revenue and grow and city! Guess it’s easy to have a safe city when no one wants to go there.

  3. Why is it nightclubs and bars that are often held responsible for the actions of patrons? Violence breaks out at sporting events but nobody proposes closing a stadium or arena. A triple shooting is one thing, but fist fights with the occasional shoe?

  4. San Jose downtown business strategy is to attract 1000’s 20-30’s local losers and out of town troublemakers many of which are drunk when they leave at closing time

    Downtown Business Association is run by club owners and property owners making money from clubs

    Why is anyone surprised that couples, families and people wanting to go to theaters, museums and dinners don’t go downtown except during day or for free or tax subsidized events

    • I’m a person who lives locally and has a family. I won’t go downtown, not because of the clubs; but because of how I’m treated by the police and parking ticket morons.

      Why go to downtown to get eyeballed by cops like I’m a criminal and to get parking tickets on empty dirty streets.

  5. I wonder if Original Joe’s might be the “canary in the coal mine” for Downtown.  Appears that they no longer serve breakfast on Sunday mornings… they open at 11 a.m.  Downtown truly is a losing proposition.

    • The the canary’s in the coal mine are the 50 or so businesses that have gone out of business in the last few years.

      Add the empty parking lots and streets.

  6. It is interesting that a business that sells alcohol and has a patron cause a crime is responsible and faces fines, closings and losing thier business.

    But when a shop lifter goes to Nordstroms and steal something (ie a patron committing a crime) the patron is responsible. 

    If retail was treated the same way; when a person steals from them, they would be fined, face closures and losing thier business.

  7. Retail customers unlike downtown club customers don’t routinely commit crimes – drunk in public, drug usage, vandalism, assault, urination in public, driving under influence etc

    No other city in Santa Clara County has the problems that downtown San Jose has with clubs or puts up with criminal activities or having most of it’s residents avoid downtown becasue of club problems

    Way past time to close all problem clubs and take back downtown for residents

  8. How are cities like LA, Miami, NY, Seattle, Phoenix able to draw huge crowds with no police presence and few incidents? Do not focus on one downtown. Entertainment needs be spread. Very similar to Santana Row. Downtown San Jose is one pathetic piece of property. A commuter college does not help.

    When will the city realize that people don’t want to go out when the ratio of cops to patrons is 4:1?…..

    • Well I know for a fact that Arizona is lenient with gun laws so everyone there is pretty much packing heat, so they are pretty aware that is something gets started there is a good chance they’ll get capped.  I lived in NYC for two years and they always have clubs getting shot up, but the difference is NYC is a media mecca and lots of people like to spend money in New York.  It’s the place to be.  The mayor knows this and wants people to come visit there city so he’ll do what ever he has to make people want to visit.  He doesn’t close night clubs for long periods of time.  He treats it like a regular crime and let’s the detectives and cops handle it and get through an investigation so that people can get back in and spend money.  Whereas San Jose treats it like a nuclear war crisis and drags there feet.  Plus who really strives to come to San Jose to visit?  Nobody!

  9. It shows you that San Jose is a pathetic city with screw ups that start at the top.  Former Mayor Hammer and Gonzales endorsed Santana Row that just creamed downtown and deprive downtown of its energy.  Downtown is a total failure, and only now, we’re being hit by the impact of this sloppy political practice of encouraging downtown revitalization, while building competing entertainment/ shopping complex behind its back. This a demonstration of two faced leadership that build competing centers that double-cross downtown and stab downtown in the middle of its heart and kills it. Now, we’re going to see how ugly it’s going to get, especially in the few years.  It’s time to face the music, downtowners and city residents.

    • Frank, my gosh!  You sound just like the former RDA Chief, Frank Taylor.  He didn’t believe in free enterprise either.  In fact, rumor has it that a high school kid tried to open up a lemonade stand beyond the borders of Downtown.  Frank enlisted the SJ SWAT Team to shut that fellow down if he wouldn’t agree to relocating his stand to Market Street!

  10. Thanks Ben, for chiming in. I’ve gone and shot pool at S. 1st Billiards in the past and never had anything less than an enjoyable time. I also appreciate that, however indirectly, you bring up a relevant point.

    It’s funny to me how, for so many, the discussion begins and ends with police presence, as though it is the police who are causing people to drink too much, drop trou and urinate in public, get into fights or indulge in various other socially unacceptable behaviors. Yet, how odd is it that a triple homicide occurred at The Mexicali Club which is simultaneously notorious for the illegal activities which occur there, well outside downtown proper and has a far diminished police presence in the area.

    God forbid that each establishment ought to be examined on the basis of its business model and practices. Lets talk about the ABC violations which got Vivid/Studio8/Pearl shut down. Let’s disregard the numerous safety and security issues which plagued Club Wet. Under no circumstances should we evaluate the value of an establishment on the basis of the kinds of patrons it attracts (judge solely on the basis of their behaviors and no other criteria).

    And, lastly, let’s not look to other establishments which are successful as models for how to do things right. Let’s ignore the smaller quieter establishments which rarely, if ever make the news (surely a valid metric for places that are doing things right). Let’s disregard Azucar, which, on weekends is jam-packed with patrons from all walks of life and demographics, enjoying tapas, mojitos, live music and salsa dancing. Let’s forget about Single Barrel which is noteworthy for its unique ambiance, fantastic service and amazing and eclectic period drink menu. Let’s dismiss as an anomaly S. 1st Billiards which, for more a decade or more has remained quietly and successfully in business?

    Rather, let’s open up a new super club or ultra lounge or whatever new term is used to describe the same old blight and then bitch and moan about the sorry state of downtown when it follows the same tired failed business model of its predecessor. At what point does this meet the definition of insanity?

    • South first billiards is a joke.  worst food in town.  rude bartenders.  rude police everywhere.

      • So, for ‘Not’, the discussion ended with ‘rude police everywhere’. I am not sure what that has to do with the business itself. And, perhaps ‘Not’ would care to be more descriptive about his personal experiences (not anecdotal) which has led him to describe the police as ‘rude’. Ultimately, the post is moot, because, for quite a long time now, S. 1st Billiards has remained successfully in business, rude bartenders, rude police and ‘worst food in town’ notwithstanding.

    • I have no vested interest in First Street Billiards but I have been a patron there.  Great spot.  One of the few free spots (no cover charge) too. 

      Food isn’t bad but its a little pricey.  Totally choose it over any of the 20 something drunk nightmare “clubs” and ultra lounges downtown.

  11. Time to stop frequently spread misconception by few downtown dreamers and unknowledgeable whiners that downtown could have never attracted Santana Row if Council had not approved Santana Row

    If Santana Row had not been approved City budget crisis would be $ millions worst since taxes and jobs would have been built in Santa Clara not San Jose

    Downtown could never have attracted in last 20 years Santana Row or Valley Fair high end large retail project because:

    1) political problems – unions control of Council, city policies, prevailing wage policy and union labor rules,

    2)out of control downtown clubs, no available large 10 -20 + acre downtown site, no large free parking lots, difficult slow public transit, problems in getting 5-10,000 vehicles into downtown, no successful large downtown retail stores, high unrealistic downtown real estate prices, greedy unrealistic property owners and downtown national reputation for decade’s as retail disaster

    3) competition from Valley Fair / Stanford Center , store lease restrictions no same company stores within 5-10 miles and successful retailers prefer location in large previously successful mall with multiple anchor stores to attract customers

    4) Many San Jose and other city residents will not go to troubled downtown, take public transit to shopping so drive to Valley Fair / Santana Row and other city shopping

    5 Downtown neighborhood can not support high end mall only Coleman Shopping Center stores which are suburban neighborhood mall stores not Valley Fair / Santana Row high end destination stores

  12. Better shut down Peets Coffee at El Paseo.  Crazy gun toting middle aged customers.  Cleary no management oversight. And I hear that Red Robin place is a hotbed for trouble as well…

  13. Breaking News: The best clubs & entertainment take place 50 miles north in one of the greatest cities on this planet; San Francisco. Downtown San Jose is and will always have second-class entertainment. The convention center is second class…..the theaters are second class, and so are its restaurants. It’s the way it is and it’s the way it will always be.

  14. As a Downtown resident, I don’t mourn the end of another club. We enjoy living here, walk everywhere, love the charming old buildings that have been saved, etc. The museums dead? Not on your life. I did my Christmas shopping in the art museum’s gift shop. I’ve taken the grandkids to Star Trek and Genghi Kahn and take them to parks in our neighborhood, walk to the Rep and other theaters, to Camera 12, the California Theater and Le Petit Trianon for great music, to a bunch of restaurants for great meals (EO, Mexcal, Nazca, WOW, etc.) Downtown can be a great place for adults. The one thing we don’t like to do it walk on First or Second Aves. on weekend nights, which we do because of the theaters. Drunks, rowdies.I’m sure people visting, going to conventions, aren’t happy with that street scene either.  Get rid of the bars, and we’ll get rid of these creepies (the ballpark will bring more),  so that Downtown can be reclaimed, even for conventioneers and tourists.

    We stay out of Santana Row, which is nearly as bad, overrun with slutty women who look and dress like underage whotes and trashy men who look and dress like they line up for the women.

  15. Seems if security did a better job at checking folks at the door alot of this crap would be in check.  I’ve been out to the clubs in San Jose and security is half the problem.  They spend too much time trying to intimidate and look for reasons to start trouble.  The cops and city council are too blame too.  They are too blame because they don’t take a direction.  They don’t know whether they want to be the big city or stay the small town.  They lack an identity.  It seems they want to be the big city and compete with SF, but don’t want to deal with big city problems.  Doesn’t matter to me whether san jose as nightlife or what it wasn’t that great of a place to party, it was just convenient.  It lacks originality.  As much as people like to represent San jose, I don’t think the rest of the country really cares.

  16. Downtown IS pathetic, all the good clubs are GONE and there’s no were to dance, no house music, what in the hell? San Jose is dead and it’s all thanks to the tight-ass government and the corrupt scum at the top that won’t let this city grow, you can’t do anything here anymore. It’s just a big, fat police state, where fun is illegal. Just because a handful of idiots fight in the street makes it the clubs fault? What a joke, its ridiculous.. I’ll be moving away from this piece of you-know-what town to San Francisco.. I’m sure ill have places to dance there, where everything isn’t ILLEGAL. this city can kiss my ass.