San Jose’s legendary Poor House Bistro is on the run from the development path proposed by the Google Downtown West project. But it’s not just business that is moving – the whole building is coming too.
Known for some of the best San Jose food and music in New Orleans, the 100-year-old Victorian home moves to Little Italy about a mile away.
“I’m thrilled, the cat is out of my pocket now,” said Jay Meduri, the owner of the poor house.
The Poor House Bistro is just a few steps from Diridon Station and directly on the way to Google’s upcoming development in Downtown West.
After more than two years after Google bought the land below in 2019, there have been numerous questions about the future of New Orleans-themed restaurant for more than two years. The company had been buying land nearby since 2017, though at the time it was a development partner, Trammel Crow, which is no longer working with Google, to develop its massive mixed-use campus in San Jose.
“I knew one of three things could happen,” said Meduri of the fate of the restaurant and the house. “It could become part of the Google Village, we could move the house, or thirdly, we would tear it down and start over.”
Meduri said Google was helping to settle the bill for the feat. This is not the first time that the house has been picked up and moved. When Meduri’s grandparents came to San Jose from Italy in the early 20th century, the house was on 11th Street. Meduri’s grandfather had it moved to the current location of the building.
A Google spokesman confirmed Thursday that the company would help with the poor house’s financial move, but said it could not comment on the details yet.
Given his family’s Italian heritage, Meduri said moving to Little Italy was a breeze. The home is adjacent to the borough’s Museum of Culture on West St. John Street.
“When I came up with the idea of the Poor House Bistro coming to Little Italy with New Orleans cuisine and the feel of the old Victorian house, everyone seemed receptive,” Meduri said.
According to the Little Italy Community website, the neighborhood site of the original settlement for Italian immigrants in the area from the 1880s.
Joshua DeVincenzi Melander, founder of Little Italy San Jose, said he was excited about the project from the start.
“My only hesitation was that it was a Mardi Gras New Orleans restaurant,” said DeVincenzi Melander. “I said I was completely open to it, but we have to do it Italian.”
Meduri had no problem with that.
Customers can continue to enjoy the food Poor House is known for and there will continue to be music. However, expect some changes.
“So we said, hey, let’s mix New Orleans Mardi Gras with (Italian) Mardi Gras,” DeVincenzi Melander said.
He said there are already plans for events connecting Italian and New Orleans heritage.
“It’s going to be Famiglia Meduri’s Poor House Bistro, and because Mardi Gras was actually invented as a Carnival in Venice, we’re going to include that theme,” Meduri said. “It’ll be cool to add that vibe.”
The timeline is still a work in progress, said Meduri. The restaurant is expected to remain open through August while an architect draws up plans and other arrangements are made for the move. But fans of the bistro could expect to see the old house in a new location open to the public by next year.
During the move, Meduri said, he wants to make sure the bistro’s food continues to be available in a nearby food truck. For updates, fans can stay up to date on the restaurant’s Facebook page.
“Rome wasn’t built in a day,” said Meduri, “and neither was the poor house.”