May 30, 2024
Fans lined up to enjoy jambalaya and hurricanes as the New Orleans-style restaurant reopened 19 months after it was moved.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who thought I’d be enjoying jambalaya, hurricanes, sausage bread and beignets at Poor House Bistro again a lot sooner. But the wait is over, and 19 months after the New Orleans-style eatery was lifted onto a truck and hauled a half-mile to San Jose’s Little Italy district, the good times are rolling again.

Officially now the Famiglia Meduri Poor House Bistro, leaning into owner Jay Meduri’s Italian roots, the restaurant welcomed dozens of customers back Wednesday to the new location on St. John Street, wedged between Henry’s Hi-Life and the new Italian Museum and Cultural Center that is close to opening.

“It’s been a long road,” said Meduri, who cut the ribbon with Mayor Matt Mahan. “Good things are going to be happening in Little Italy, and we’re happy to be a part of it.”

San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan and Poor House Bistro owner Jay Meduri cut the ribbon on the restaurant’s new location in San Jose’s Little Italy district as Jeff Meduri, far left, and Joshua DeVincenzi Melander, far right, observe on Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2023. (Sal Pizarro/Bay Area News Group)

Jay Meduri, owner of Famiglia Meduri Poor House Bistro, welcomes customers on the restaurant’s first day of business in San Jose’s Little Italy district on Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2023. (Sal Pizarro/Bay Area News Group)

Jackson Meduri makes an Aperol Spritz at Poor House Bistro on Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2023, the first day it was open in San Jose’s Little Italy district. Meduri, 25, spent the first two years of his life living in the Victorian house belonging to his family that eventually became the restaurant. (Sal Pizarro/Bay Area News Group)

Hurricanes were among the specialty drinks being served at the Poor House Bistro on its first day of business in San Jose’s Little Italy district on Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2023. (Sal Pizarro/Bay Area News Group)

Poor House Bistro owner Jay Meduri chats with a visitor at a June 22 preview event for the restaurant and bar, which was moved to Little Italy San Jose in January 2022. Attendees also got a sneak peek at the Little Italy Museum and Cultural Center, which is also a work in progress. The 5,000-square-foot piazza that connects the two venues was packed for the event. (Photo by Anne Gelhaus)

A sign for the Italian Cellar bar has been installed at the Little Italy Museum and Cultural Center, and Poor House Bistro is close to complete in San Jose’s Little Italy business district. An unveiling event is taking place June 22, 2023. (Sal Pizarro/Bay Area News Group)

Poor House Bistro owner Jay Meduri pauses in front of the relocated restaurant, Friday, April 14, 2023, where preparations are being made to finish the patio’s paver installation. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)

SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 8: The Poor House Bistro moves slowly past the SAP Center towards its new home in the Little Italy section of San Jose, Calif., Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)

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The building was moved in January 2022 to make way for Google’s planned Downtown West project, which is now delayed (or as the city says “timeline shifted”). At the time, there was some optimism the restaurant would be ready to open a year ago.

Meduri didn’t want to dwell on the negative aspects of the long wait and praised city staff and inspectors for keeping the process moving. But anyone who’s tried to put in an ADU or do an extensive home remodel can probably list off the potential delays: construction material shortages, getting permits and inspections, waiting for utility hookups and managing cost overruns. That would be normal for any project, but this was a 100-plus year old house that was also serving as a restaurant.

Poor House Bistro will share patio space with the Italian Museum, and Meduri says they’ll also be bringing live music back slowly, too “We’re going to work together to make this area a nice place to come to eat, dine, and enjoy some entertainment,” he said.

Little Italy also will be the site of the Urban Vibrancy Institute’s next downtown block party on Aug. 24, starting at 5:30 p.m. You can get more information at www.urbanvibrancy.institute/block-party.

SPARTANS RETURN: San Jose State President Cynthia Teniente-Matson, who took office in January, sounded a note of optimism in her first fall welcome address to kick off the academic year for the campus community on Thursday.

“As I start my eighth month in the Spartan community I am convinced we are — you are — at the epicenter of the future,” she said. “Our campus has unbridled intellectual energy that has been and will continue to be a catalyst for industries of the future.”

Teniente-Matson pointed to gains the university has made in enrollment, improving its four-year graduation rate and introducing an online degree program, SJSU Online. She noted two upcoming causes for celebration — the phased opening of the new Interdisciplinary Science Building, the first new academic building in 30 years, and the 20th anniversary of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. library, which marked a major collaboration between San Jose State and the City of San Jose.

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But she also acknowledged the challenges that SJSU faces, including a looming budget deficit and making sure that affordable housing is available for students, faculty and staff. We have a strong university performing at a high level, yet we need to find ways to build a transparent and fiscally sustainable funding model that’ll support our operations.”

‘BROTHERS’ AT CINEQUEST: San Jose music history fans know all about the psychedelic rock band People! which was formed in the mid-1960s and was a one-hit wonder with the single, “I Love You.” Brothers Geoff Levin and Robbie Levin were key members of the band and, in 1968, joined the Church of Scientology — which ultimately broke up the band and led to nearly three decades of estrangement between the brothers when Robbie Levin left Scientology in 1984.

The two brothers are collaborating again, and their story about their experience with Scientology is explored in “Brothers Broken,” a documentary feature directed by Geoff Levin and Lily Richards that will have its U.S. premiere this weekend at Cinequest in downtown San Jose. It will screen at 4:35 p.m. Aug. 20 at the Hammer Theatre Center and will have another showing at 11:45 a.m. Aug. 26 at the ShowPlace ICON theater in Mountain View. Go to www.cinequest.org for tickets.

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