San Jose’s forgotten Midtown is reborn with night-time flair
Event organizer Jonathan Gomez said some of the vendors did well and this is just starting. He’d like to see more people able to follow their passions. Photo by Lorraine Gabbert.

    A new idea in an underutilized part of San Jose could turn into a win for a variety of businesses and the residents living in the area.

    Midtown Immersive Night Party, created by event planners Jonathan and Linnea Gomez, is a night-time venue waiting to be discovered and an opportunity to boost a forgotten part of San Jose. The party brings together artists, food trucks, vendors and music on McEvoy Street, just off San Carlos Street. The couple received a $50,000 Abierto grant from the city, a program created to help revive neighborhoods post COVID-19 pandemic. 

    Set in and outside the rustic James Grain Warehouse, the night market springs up on Friday nights through June 16. After parties include live music by Reborn Collective on May 19 and June 2 and 16.

    Midtown Night Market, which takes place Friday nights, features vendors, food trucks, a beer garden and games. Photo by Lorraine Gabbert.

    The couple started Midtown Immersive to promote their events business.

    “It’s the dream we had to bring people together and to invest,” Jonathan Gomez told San José Spotlight. “We were thinking about what the city needed. We wanted to bring hope and life and creativity. In San Jose, sometimes if you don’t create it, it won’t be here. You have to be part of the solution.”

    Filco Events, a San Jose production company that specializes in outdoor events and festivals, assisted with getting the necessary permits. Fil Maresca of Filco said the funding will help light a spark in the neighborhood and attract local residents. He said businesses on the block don’t get much foot traffic, and for the event to be successful, vendors and food trucks need to see an uptick in sales.

    “There’s not a lot to do in midtown,” Maresca told San José Spotlight, “so to have something nearby is good.”

    Food vendors were selling everything from pineapple boats with fried pineapple rice, shrimp and scallops to Birria tacos and candy crusted apples in the parking lot between the warehouse and My Gypsy Soul. 

    “These types of markets are amazingly effective,” Alex Stettinski, CEO of San Jose Downtown Association, told San José Spotlight. “They bring residents, neighbors and people in the area out to gather and really enjoy themselves.” 

    Stettinski said in addition to vendors, businesses around the area gain exposure and may bring people back.

    “I think it will have a good effect on midtown,” he said. “If we can get the area around downtown activated and vibrant that helps downtown as well. I’m happy with any type of activation that’s happening in and around downtown.”

    Vintage and modern clothing store Black & Brown saw a bump in sales, assistant manager Dre Valverde said. One customer, Allison Burgunder, purchased a light coat, vintage top and bracelet from Black & Brown. 

    “It definitely gets more people walking around here,” Valverde told San José Spotlight. “We’re getting people who didn’t know we’re here…people from other neighborhoods.”

    Black & Brown, a vintage and modern clothing store, drew customers from the Night Market. Photo by Lorraine Gabbert.

    Jonathan Gomez said the street market, which draws about 500 people a night, is all about networking and exposure, bringing artists and clients together, as well as creating a sense of community and culture.

    He said it beautifies the street, brings awareness of local businesses and a place for people to walk.

    “The area has a lot of potential,” he said. “It adds to the art and culture of the city. There is also a really big impact with who we’re hiring to produce this. I’m giving a lot of guys and girls hours to get the space ready.”

    Teenagers and families with strollers and dogs checked out the night market booths. They enjoyed delicacies from Moveable Feast food trucks and drinks from the beer garden while playing oversized Jenga, Connect Four and basketball. Some enjoyed watching artist Patrick Hofmeister work on a black canvas with lustrous gold paint or muralist Sarah Joy create elaborate designs on people’s faces and arms.

    “It’s wild. You realize it worked and people wanted it and are begging for it,” said Jonathan Gomez. “It makes you feel good. It’s had a positive impact on people. They’re smiling and they’re exposed to music, love, warmth and flowers and it’s beautiful. When your time and effort goes into a project like this… it’s really meaningful.”

    Contact Lorraine Gabbert at [email protected]

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