The outside of restaurant storefront Home Eat
Chinese restaurant Home Eat is opening on Fourth Street in downtown San Jose at the former location of Flames Eatery and Bar, which closed in 2022. Photo by Annalise Freimarck.

A new restaurant is opening in downtown San Jose at the site of a former meeting hotspot for local politicos.

Home Eat, a Chinese restaurant chain with locations in Cupertino, Sunnyvale and Fremont, is slated to open sometime next week under a five-year lease with the city. The restaurant will fill the vacant site on Fourth Street where Flames Eatery & Bar used to be, giving politicians and students another option for a quick bite.

Home Eat owner Marcus Yang said the San Jose location will help expand the restaurant’s footprint throughout the Bay Area. He aims to bring authentic Sichuan, Hunan, Taiwanese and fusion cuisine to the city’s downtown, something he believes it’s lacking.

The downtown restaurant, which opened its first location in Cupertino about a year ago, will be open from 11 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. every day and serve dishes such as hot woks, pork off the bone and mapo tofu.

“When (people) taste Chinese food and learn a little Chinese culture, we want to keep that part. But also we will add some dishes (that) will have more American flavors,” Yang told San José Spotlight.

Home Eat is expected to funnel approximately $31,225 a month into the city’s general fund, raising 3% each year. After its lease is up, Home Eat could renew its five-year contract twice, meaning the restaurant could be there for 15 years.

The roughly 11,000-square-foot, city-owned site sat empty for nearly a year-and-a-half when Flames shuttered in December 2022 after pandemic rent moratoriums expired and it was unable to make its overdue rent.

A short walk from San Jose City Hall and San Jose State University, Flames was a popular meeting spot for local politicians such as former District 3 Councilmember Raul Peralez. He said he often frequented the restaurant for fresh air with constituents outside his office and is glad the space is being filled, especially since he lives near downtown.

“We don’t want to keep our vacant spaces vacant too long,” he told San José Spotlight. “It’s important that the city sets an example.”

Vacancies in downtown San Jose extend beyond the former Flames site. Some property owners have neglected their buildings, and last year the area had 73 vacant storefronts due to the lingering effects of the pandemic.

Nanci Klein, San Jose’s director of economic development, said Home Eat will help fill the void Flames left for its local patrons.

“It’s super convenient. The food is good, and (there’s) a wide variety of food at a variety of price points,” she told San José Spotlight. “So I believe that we’ll be well served and continue the tradition of having a number of those meetings (there for) either politicians or folks who are going to hear or listen to a (council) item.”

Contact Annalise Freimarck at [email protected] or follow @annalise_ellen on X, formerly known as Twitter.

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