Pizarro: What’s that buzzing around the Fairmont San Jose?
For the past few weeks, downtown San Jose dwellers had noticed a sound a bit noisier than the regular urban din of light rail trains and delivery trucks around the Fairmont hotel’s First Street entrance.
The drone has been present for years — it’s created by the air intake pumps that keep the hotel’s interior nice and cool — and it’s just faded into the background for many residents and regulars. But it sparked a spate of social media grousing a few weeks back because it was distinctly louder during the blazing hot spring.
No, the Fairmont hadn’t just cranked up the A/C — it turns out a muffler on one of the generators had failed and needed to be replaced. That work’s been done and it’s back to its regular hum. I take it as good sign that enough people are walking around downtown to have noticed.
The more interesting humming is taking place inside the hotel, though, where the Lobby Lounge and other public areas are undergoing a bit of a facelift. Signs and furnishings are being replaced and the fabulous sushi cart in the lobby is gone (though sushi is still available on the menu). The food and beverage menu’s also undergoing some changes that will be rolling out over the remainder of the year.
“We’re in the ‘cocooning’ process to reinvent ourselves,” said Marshall Jones, the hotel’s director of sales and marketing. “We’re attempting to create an environment where we can be the most happening place in town socially.”
And that should produce some noise of a more joyful nature.
BIG BANG JAZZ: Fireworks will light up the skies over downtown San Jose for July 4, thanks once again to the Rotary Club of San Jose, and San Jose Jazz will provide tunes leading up to the big event at 9:30 p.m.
The SJZ BoomBox stage will roll its way to the area around Discovery Meadow, starting at 5 p.m., with the Mikailo Kasha Group, the Kings of Leisure, Bug Horn Rex and more providing the entertainment. By the way, if you’re watching the show from your own favorite vantage point, Bay 94.5 will be broadcasting the fireworks soundtrack.
“It’s the largest show south of San Francisco, and this year they are predicting fog in San Francisco, so this will probably be the largest show that you can actually see on Independence Day,” said Carl Salas, who spearheaded the effort to bring back the fireworks show three years ago. “This show dwarfs anything that can be done illegally.”
CULINARY CHAMPS: Martin Hoellrigl, the new general manager of the Hotel De Anza, seems to be a hands-on kind of guy. The sauce that La Pastaia, the restaurant at the De Anza, entered in Little Italy San Jose’s Boss of the Sauce competition included vegetables and herbs grown in his garden. Alas, the effort didn’t win the sauce either of the day’s two titles, with the judges’ vote going to Mio Vicino, the neighborhood Italian eatery with locations in Santa Clara and Saratoga, and the crowd crowning Campbell bistro Sorelle.
About 500 sauce lovers showed up for Sunday’s event, and the judging was tastefully handled by Michael Mulcahy, Pierluigi Oliverio and our South Bay Food Editor, Linda Zavoral.
Speaking of winners, San Jose-based catering company Trifecta Cooks — Lai Chao, Ryan Gallego and Jason Artajos — won the Taste for the Space contest held at Eastridge Center last month. The trio, who met while working at Morimoto in Napa and specialize in Modern Japanese cuisine, will receive a prize package worth $140,000. That includes a $50,000 investment and six months free rent on an equipped eatery space at the San Jose shopping center, which is in the midst of a revamp.
SPORTS AUTHORITY’S NEW COACH: John Poch, San Jose State’s deputy director of athletics, has been picked by the San Jose Sports Authority’s executive committee to be its new executive director. The Sports Authority is the nonprofit agency that promotes sports events and programs in the city, as well as working to bring scores of events here like the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, the NCAA men’s basketball regionals and the U.S. Olympics gymnastics trials.
Board chairman Charlie Faas, who serves as San Jose State’s chief financial officer, said Poch’s background in college athletics, youth sports, nonprofit management and fundraising will be “significant assets for the Sports Authority.
Poch follows Dean Munro, who was the founding executive director from 1991 until 2006, and Patricia Ernstrom, who led the group for a decade before leaving to join the 49ers. Poch said he’s excited to work with the board and staff “to bring a wide variety of sports events to the San Jose and the South Bay, as well as to enrich our communities through sports and youth programs.”
PARTING THOUGHTS: At places as big as San Jose City Hall and SAP Center, there are always people who help make sure things don’t go off the rails, and two solid examples are stepping down this summer after long careers. David Vossbrink, who was feted by colleagues and media members Thursday evening at Mosaic restaurant, is retiring as the city’s public information officer after 17 years in San Jose (and a previous 13-year stint in Sunnyvale).
Jim Goddard is also stepping away from his day-to-day management duties as Sharks Sports & Entertainment’s vice president of business and venue operations, after more than a quarter-century with the organization. Goddard was on the original management team that brought the Sharks to the Bay Area in 1991 and his ties to SAP Center go back even farther: He was the San Jose Arena project manager who helped oversee the design and construction of the arena.
Goddard isn’t hanging it up entirely. He’ll continue on as executive vice president of government affairs and will consult with Sharks Chief Operating Officer John Tortora on arena-related projects.
Thanks to both men for getting San Jose this far.