Fans of hearty burritos and saucy enchiladas may have felt a pang of absence when Angelou’s Mexican Grill closed its doors at 21 N. Second St. in downtown San Jose at the end of 2023.
But devotees of the San Jose institution can take comfort knowing Angelou’s is set to resume slinging Cali burritos, carne asada fries, chile relleno and orange sauce as soon as early February from a new downtown location at 78 S. First St.
After being in business in the Realty Building on Second Street for 17 years, the restaurant is in the final stages of relocating due to a developer’s plan to convert the two-story commercial building into a 22-story residential tower. City officials approved the redevelopment last March.
Teresa Lopez, who owns the restaurant along with her husband Sergio Lopez, said she began looking for a new space with a commercial kitchen last year.
She’s relieved she was able to find a compatible space that will allow her to increase seated dining service and add a full bar.
“I didn’t want to move from my place because I was there forever, they made us move out,” Teresa Lopez told San José Spotlight. “But right now I’m happy because the new location is bigger. I think the street is better than the other one, and it looks better.”
Nick Goddard, a commercial real estate agent with Colliers International Silicon Valley, helped find and secure the new space for Angelou’s.
“They’re loving people, they’ve got a great following, they’ve got great food,” Goddard told San José Spotlight. “This new location enables them to increase their visibility and increase their sales.”
The new space, which formerly housed a pizzeria, is now decorated with greenery, colorful art including a portrait of Frida Kahlo, dark wood tables coupled with black textile chairs along with bright accent lighting, with some of the fixtures and decor installed by Sergio Lopez.
The seating capacity is nearly 50 people, whereas the former location only offered dine-in for about 14 people, Goddard said.
“It’s a storied institution, an integral part of the downtown scene and the late night scene,” Goddard said.
Lopez said she planned to close the original location and open the new location — in downtown’s Security Building — nearly simultaneously, but ran into delays with permits for the kitchen.
She reached out to the San Jose Downtown Association, of which Angelou’s is a member, to get some help expediting permit reviews from the city, and in securing a business grant to help with the move.
The business, which had signed a multi-year lease with the former building owner before the redevelopment plans came into view, received some relocation assistance funds from the building owner.
Alex Stettinski, CEO of the downtown association, said one of his organization’s key missions is to support small businesses, and he’s glad Angelou’s is remaining in downtown.
“Angelou’s is an example of a business that has been in downtown for many years, it’s an icon, and people love it,” Stettinski told San José Spotlight.
Lopez said in addition to improving the restaurant with full bar service and more sit-down dining, some new menu items may be in the works, though the classics will remain. She expects to serve downtown workers and visitors, San Jose State University students, as well as patrons of nearby bars and clubs.
District 3 Councilmember Omar Torres, who represents downtown, said he’s excited the business is going to remain rooted in the area.
“It’s one of our favorite spots to eat during lunch in downtown,” Torres told San José Spotlight. “Angelou’s has been a staple for years. They have the best authentic Mexican food, and I look forward to visiting their new location.”