Pizarro: Memories abound at San Pedro Square

By: Sal Pizarro 

Mercury News Posted: 9/12/11

A big crowd of people flowed off the sidewalk onto St. John Street on Friday night to watch the giant red letters of the San Pedro Square Market sign lit for the first time.

And there must have been a little déjà vu among some of the crowd, who remembered the opening of another San Pedro Square project backed by the McEnery family.

"There's at least 20 people here who were at the opening of the Tower Saloon 40 years ago," Los Gatos photographer Peter Carter said. He snapped pictures when the bar opened on Santa Clara Street in the early 1970s. It's long gone, replaced in the 1980s by D.B. Cooper's and later by A.P. Stump's.

Tom McEnery was a bartender at the Tower Saloon, which was owned by his family, before his stints on the City Council and in the mayor's office. And McEnery was there Friday night, but instead of tending bar, he was relaxing and praising his nephew, John McEnery IV, who has been spearheading the project since 2006.

James Reber, the executive director of the San Jose Parks Foundation, and his wife, Debbie Webster, shared a different memory. They first met on the dance floor of the Laundry Works, another long-lost San Jose club that once rocked where the San Pedro Square Market's main building stands.

The market is still a work in progress, but if you squinted and looked past the dusty floors, plywood and plastic sheeting, you could make out a promising future. It's easy to picture a jazz bandplaying in the Peralta Adobe plaza, nice to imagine people strolling with a glass of wine or sitting outdoors with a pizza and martinis.Of course, that future only happens if the people there Friday night -- many of whom I don't often see in downtown San Jose -- decide to come back and come back often. There are various events scheduled between now and the planned Oct. 22 grand opening, including an SJMade/SJEats vendor and food truck fair this weekend.