After being closed for almost two years because of the pandemic, a well-known and intimate live jazz music venue in San Jose’s SoFA District has now decided not to reopen and will be ending its operations permanently, according to its website. Since 2012, Cafe Stritch at 374 South 1st Street was a casual dining spot that showcased some of the best jazz talent from around the region. It was named after a version of an alto saxophone called a “stritch,” which was displayed over the stage.
Photo Credit: Cafe Stritch/Facebook
The venue had a long history of jazz and other performances before it became Cafe Stritch. In 1977, Eulipia Jazz Club opened at the location under the ownership of the Borkenhagen family, who handled operations inside the building for 45 years. It wasn’t just jazz, the venue had become a hot spot for small theater shows and comedy acts. In the 1980s, according to San Jose Inside, comedian and actor Rob Schneider was given a residency at Eulipia before joining the cast of Saturday Night Live.
“Thank you very much for sharing with us in all the live music, shared meals, and enduring memories that were the essence of Cafe Stritch and Eulipia before it. We could never have done it if not together: musicians and audience, bartenders and barbacks, servers and bussers, cooks and dishwashers,” Cafe Stritch said in a statement posted on their website. Like countless other Silicon Valley restaurants, Cafe Stritch was trying to ride out the pandemic by offering a take-out menu, but the effort didn’t prevail. “The setback of being closed for so long made it too challenging to reopen,” Michael Borkenhagen told San Jose Inside.
The good news is, there will still be live music at the venue. The former general manager of Cafe Stritch, Andrew Saman, will be opening a new venue at the location called Mama Kin. It will still showcase jazz but will also expand into other musical genres. “We’ll keep the same vibe and hope to get back the regulars. We’ll also open it up and make it a little livelier,” Saman told San Jose Inside.
Saman has spent the last 28 years working in the live music scene as a manager for San Jose venues like Rock Bar, The Ritz, and Continental. The opening date of Mama Kin has not yet been posted.