Nothing last forever, even a San Jose institution like the restaurant Casa Vicky. Owner Maria Aguilar told me this week that she had sold the business, which has been on the corner of Julian and North 17th streets since 1989 and has roots that go back much further.
Tequila’s Restaurant — which also has two other locations in San Jose, including Tequila’s Botanero on North First Street and Tequila’s Taqueria on Leigh Avenue — on July 1 took over the Spanish Revival building that dates from the 1930s. The words “Casa Vicky” have been painted over outside, but the inside still looks the same — for now. I’m told lots of changes are coming soon, though.
Despite some neighborhood concerns, Tequila’s, ironically, doesn’t appear to sell its namesake spirit, instead providing beer and wine (and a popular michelada) at its other locations.
Aguilar’s mother, Victoria Aragon, opened Vicky’s Cafe in downtown San Jose in 1968 and then Casa Vicky on Market Street a few years later, which moved to the Tropicana shopping center in 1975. Aguilar said she’s been an employee since her mom started the business and has been its owner since 1979. She opened Casa Vicky’s on Market Street a few years later, and relocated to the Tropicana shopping center on King Road in 1975.
It built a reputation for its Mexican food and pastries, as well as tortillas that were handmade on site every day.
Last year, Casa Vicky was one of 25 restaurants in the country to receive a $40,000 grant from a National Trust for Historic Preservation program this month to help smaller, historic restaurants make improvements to recover from the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. The grant went toward improving the building’s outdoor lighting and patio seating, as well as the awning and wrought iron fencing.
Aguilar has been dealing with health issues and needed a well-deserved rest after 54 years on the job. “It is difficult to do that if I stay at the restaurant,” she said. “It is time. It is bittersweet. I miss my patrons, my employees and the restaurant.”
NEW SOUNDS AT THE FAIRGROUNDS: The Wednesday Night Music Series returns to the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds this week and running for the next two months. The high-energy, 10-piece dance band Clean Slate leads things off, with other bands including The Usual Suspects (July 27), Country Cougars (Aug. 3), the Houserockers (Aug. 24) and the Hitmen (Sept. 14) following in future weeks.
Local performers will set the mood each week at 5 p.m., with the headline bands starting at 6 p.m. There’ll be food trucks on hand and booths selling beer, wine and soda, but don’t forget to bring a chair or a blanket. Admission’s free, and you can check out the full lineup at www.thefairgrounds.org.
‘IT’S PLAYING AT THE DINI’: After making a name for himself in Bay Area television and radio, Steve Dini stepped into a second career as the drama teacher Pioneer High School for more than 25 years until his retirement in 2017. He’s since taken himself out to pasture in Morgan Hill, but he’ll return to San Jose this fall for a very special event: Pioneer is dedicating the stage of its performing arts center in his honor.
“Upon hearing the news, I was, for once in my life, speechless,” he said.
One might wonder why just the stage and not the whole building. Dini points out there’s a rule that a person’s name can’t be on the building until that person is dead, and he’s not willing to go to those lengths for recognition (yet).
He’ll be back at Pioneer for the dedication Oct. 29, which follows a run of “The Music Man,” by the Glue Factory — the fundraising group made up of Pioneer alumni performers. Dini, naturally, will play Professor Harold Hill in the show.
“All kidding aside I am humbled by this gesture while singing the praises of what can happen if you show up every day for 20 plus years, during which I had the pleasure of working with wonderful kids and generous people,” he said. And now generations of future performers will get to walk all over him, or at least the stage bearing his name.
SHARKS MAKE A BIG CHANGE: The San Jose Sharks made lots of news this week with the hiring of new General Manager Mike Grier, the NHL draft and the release of next season’s schedule. But one massive change has gone unnoticed that could have as big an effect on the fan experience as a winning season. Coca-Cola products are in and Pepsi is out at SAP Center, Sharks Ice and the new TechCU Arena where the Barracuda will play starting this fall.
The deal with Reyes Coca-Cola Bottling — the beverage giant’s West Coast distributor — makes it the teams’ “official non-alcoholic beverage partner” since we’re not just talking soda as fans now will be able to borrow from the kids’ college funds for bottles of Dasani water instead of Aquafina.
But consider this: The Sharks never won a Stanley Cup while the arena served Pepsi. Scoff all you want about that having nothing to do with the play on the ice, but when a team’s been out of the playoffs for three seasons, we’ve gotta hold onto something.