When Original Gravity closed its doors in February, customers were left wondering why. The craft beer lounge on South First Street in downtown San Jose had been popular for more than 10 years and even survived the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The industry changed for bars and beer,” said George Lahlouh, one of Original Gravity’s proprietors who also owns a piece of craft-cocktail lounge Paper Plane and arcade bar MiniBoss.
When Original Gravity opened, practically nobody was serving that range of craft beers in downtown San Jose. Not only is that more common now, but local breweries like Camino, Strike and Clandestine have their own taprooms. To Lahlouh and partner Dan Phan, it seemed like a good time for a pivot.
George Lahlouh, left, and Dan Phan stand inside the construction site for Eos & Nyx, the restaurant they’re opening at the Paseo building in downtown San Jose in early 2024. (Sal Pizarro/Bay Area News Group)
Later this fall, a dual-concept space will open in Original Gravity’s spot. The front will be occupied by listening lounge Still OG, a trend that started in Japan but has been popping up in the United States in recent years. The analog-driven space will include a DJ area with vinyl-filled shelves, wood-slat wall panels, carpeting and a custom-made acoustic ceiling.
“Everything in here is taking into consideration the quality of the audio,” Lahlouh said. “The goal is to have zero reverb.”
A curtain wall will separate it from the back of the space, which will be occupied by Alter Ego — a modern-styled counterpart that’s more about brass and black granite. And while Still OG will primarily serve pre-made draft cocktails, Alter Ego is where to go for a handmade craft cocktail. Lahlouh says presentation is going to be a big part of the experience at Alter Ego, with specific glassware for certain cocktails and more unusual garnishes and ingredients. Seating will be mostly by reservation for Alter Ego, with some space reserved for walk-ups every evening.
“Unlike Still OG, there’s no natural light back there, so it definitely has a more escapist vibe,” Lahlouh said, adding that both places will share a menu with food prepared in the kitchen next door at Paper Plane.
Still OG and Alter Ego are on schedule to open in November. And if that’s not enough, the ownership group is also working on Eos & Nyx, a restaurant going into Urban Catalyst’s new Paseo project that they hope to open in February 2024. The bright, airy restaurant facing South Second Street will include mezzanine and patio seating and an innovative, two-tiered bar that will share bottles using a nifty elevator system.
Despite the challenge of working on two — or maybe three — places at the same time, Lahlouh and Phan say they’re optimistic about downtown San Jose’s recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic. They’re looking forward to Elyse restaurant moving into its new space at First and San Fernando, as well as their expected neighbors at Paseo, Urban Putt and Unofficial Logging.
“We want downtown San Jose to have these great outlets for food and beverage,” Phan said. “We’re kind of all in on downtown San Jose.”
TRIBUTES TO THE FALLEN: The 21st anniversary of the 9/11 attacks is Monday, and several commemorations are planned around Santa Clara County.
The morning of Sunday, Sept. 10, there’ll be a Day of Remembrance at the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office on Younger Avenue in San Jose starting at 10 a.m. The event — co-hosted by Santa Clara County Sheriff Bob Jonsen, State Sen. Dave Cortese, retired U.S. Army Col. Ray Watts and Mike Hennessy — will include a display of classic cars and fire trucks, as well as a color guard, bagpipe players and a rendition of the National Anthem by violinist Reyna Padron.
That evening, the Veterans Memorial and Support Foundation in Los Gatos is having a tribute at 5 p.m. at the Flame of Liberty Memorial at the Civic Center Lawn on Main Street. Of course, two well-known heroes of those attacks were Los Gatos High graduates Mark Bingham and Todd Beamer, who were aboard United Flight 93. The ceremony, which is free to attend but has limited seating, will include remarks by Los Gatos Mayor Maria Ristow and a performance by the Summit Sisters.
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And Saratoga resident Phil Lenihan has made a tradition of paying his respects to the 343 first responders who died in the collapse of the World Trade Center by playing his bagpipes for local firefighters. In previous years, he made trips to seven different fire stations in the area. But now, at 89, the Saratoga Retirement Community resident is taking it a little easier and will be visiting just one, the station on Saratoga Avenue. And he’ll also play Monday for his neighbors at the Saratoga Retirement Community, where he and his wife, Beverly, live.
HISTORICAL HONORS: Last weekend, the La Raza Historical Society of Santa Clara Valley honored a lineup of people who have made an impact on our community at its second annual awards dinner before a packed house at the Mexican Heritage Plaza in San Jose. The honorees were former Santa Clara County Supervisor Blanca Alvarado, Chicano activist and educator Jose Carrasco, retired Superior Court Judge Katherine Lucero, La Raza Roundtable Chair Victor Garza, playwright and director Luis Valdez and retired attorney Fernando Zazueta.
ALL ABOARD: The Los Altos History Museum’s popular Train Days event returns next weekend, Sept. 16-17, with plenty of opportunities for visitors to engage with members of model train clubs, who’ll be happy to share their expertise and answer questions about model railroading.
Model train sets will be set up in the museum’s courtyard, as well as in the museum’s Main Gallery and Geschke Gallery. It’s open 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day, and admission is $7 (free for museum members and kids 10 and under). For more information, go to losaltoshistorymuseum.org/TrainDays2023.