“We’re Near Extinction”: Husband and Wife Create Pop-Up Support for San Jose’s Struggling Service Industry

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) – With many restaurants struggling to survive during the coronavirus pandemic, a South Bay couple hopes their idea of ​​bringing business owners together for a special pop-up will help provide a much-needed boost.

“We’re critically endangered and unless we make creative choices to help us, the restaurant industry as you know it will be gone,” said Chef Rodney Baca, who co-owns The Shop by Chef Baca in San Jose with his wife Madelyn.

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The duo founded Chef’s Market, a new initiative to support the city’s troubled hospitality sector, through its nonprofit Baca Systems. As part of a pilot program, five restaurants in the city center will come together over the next week and a half (until January 12) to start a centralized pick-up operation on S. Second St., which is staffed by a mobile kitchen.

Baca added, “They give everything they have … their heart, their soul, that’s part of them that they put into their food.”

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For every take-away order placed online, the customer is prepared a second meal free of charge, which is then donated to San Jose SHIP Kits or Hunger at Home, two organizations that are increasingly committed to helping hospitality workers laid off because of the pandemic on leave.

“This type of innovation will continue to help us not only deliver food, but also give love (and) hope to the community,” said Ewell Sterner, executive director of Hunger at Home, which has distributed nearly 3.2 million meals since March .

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The Chef’s Market, which takes place in a parking lot owned by developer Urban Community, could include more restaurants in the future if customers get enough support.

“There are networked businesses, there are people who are attached to it, and there are people who make it work, but across the board, this light at the end of the tunnel is the inspiration,” said Eric Glader, Director of Engagement the community for the San Jose Downtown Association.

The Chef’s Market is open daily from January 2nd to 12th from 11am to 6pm. Orders must be placed online and then picked up at 300 S. Second St. in San Jose. Participating restaurants include: The Shop by Chef Baca, Hyland House of Sushi, Jora Peruvian, Loteria Taco Bar, and Robee’s Falafel.

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