Danny Qutami thinks he has found the perfect location for his new restaurant.
“The foot traffic. The students. The businesses. And the families. You got a community here that’s hopefully going to support us for a long time,” he said.
Whispers Cafe opened for business for the first time Wednesday. It is one of 20 new restaurants and retail spots to open in downtown San Jose in the past eight months.
“So that attracts a lot of different people just to come down here and just give us a try and be our customers,” Qutami said. “Give us a try. Let us see how we’re doing and possibly grow our business not just for me but for the whole community.”
One of those people giving the new downtown a try is Brandon Stevens. He lives in “The 88″ — a high rise community right near the center of it all.
“I moved down here about a year ago and it was pretty dead,” Stevens said. “There were restaurants and things like that, but you definitely feel now a lot of places are starting to open up.”
One other business catching the new wave of opportunity is the Japanese retail store called Muji. It has five stores in New York. One in San Francisco and this April…opened up shop in downtown. The store’s manager is hoping other retailers will follow.
“I think it’s important for other retailers that are also prominent like Muji to take a second look. Because there’s a lot of opportunity down here,” Veronica Schicker, Muji manager, said.
To attract new businesses, the city of San Jose just launched the “Storefronts Initiative”. It offers $16,000 in grants to help cover the costs associated with opening a retail shop.
“It’s a rebirth of the downtown area of San Jose. It definitely deserves it. It’s one of the most beautiful places on the planet,” Schicker said.
The city’s ultimate goal is to expand its “Storefronts Initiative” to fill vacant storefronts in 12 other business districts.