What’s happening with Original Gravity in downtown San Jose?

The craft beer haven is coming back this fall as a dual-concept lounge

Customers were left perplexed when Original Gravity closed its doors in February. The popular craft beer lounge on South First Street in downtown San Jose had been open for more than ten years and had even survived the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The industry changed for bars and beer,” said George Lahlouh, one of Original Gravity’s owners who also owns craft-cocktail lounge Paper Plane and arcade bar MiniBoss.

When Original Gravity opened, almost no one in downtown San Jose was serving that variety of craft beers. Not only is this becoming more common, but local breweries such as Camino, Strike, and Clandestine now have their own taprooms. It seemed like a good time for a pivot to Lahlouh and partner Dan Phan.

In Original Gravity’s place, a dual-concept space will open later this fall. The front will be occupied by listening lounge Still OG, a trend that began in Japan but has recently emerged in the United States. A DJ area with vinyl-filled shelves, wood-slat wall panels, carpeting, and a custom-made acoustic ceiling will be included in the analog-driven space.

“Everything in here takes audio quality into account,” Lahlouh explained. “The goal is to have zero reverb.”

A curtain wall will separate it from the back of the space, which will be occupied by Alter Ego, a modern-styled counterpart with brass and black granite accents. While Still OG specializes in pre-made draft cocktails, Alter Ego is the place to go for a handcrafted craft cocktail. According to Lahlouh, presentation will be a big part of the Alter Ego experience, with specific glassware for certain cocktails and more unusual garnishes and ingredients. Alter Ego seating will be mostly by reservation, with some space reserved for walk-ins every evening.

“Unlike Still OG, there’s no natural light back there, so it definitely has a more escapist vibe,” Lahlouh explained, adding that the two locations will share a menu with food prepared in the Paper Plane kitchen next door.

Still, OG and Alter Ego are set to debut in November. As if that weren’t enough, the ownership group is also hard at work on Eos & Nyx, a restaurant that will be part of Urban Catalyst’s new Paseo project, which is set to open in February 2024. The bright, airy restaurant on South Second Street will have mezzanine and patio seating, as well as an innovative, two-tiered bar where bottles will be shared via a clever elevator system.

Despite the difficulties of working on two — or possibly three — projects at the same time, Lahlouh and Phan are optimistic about downtown San Jose’s recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic. They’re excited to see Elyse restaurant move into its new location at First and San Fernando, as well as their expected neighbors Paseo, Urban Putt, and Unofficial Logging.

“We want these great food and beverage outlets in downtown San Jose,” Phan said. “We’re kind of all-in on downtown San Jose.”

TRIBUTES TO THE FALLEN: Monday marks the 21st anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, and several commemorations are planned throughout Santa Clara County.

The Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office on Younger Avenue in San Jose will hold a Day of Remembrance beginning at 10 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 10. The event, co-hosted by Santa Clara County Sheriff Bob Jonsen, State Sen. Dave Cortese, retired U.S. Army Col. Ray Watts, and Mike Hennessy, will feature a display of classic cars and fire trucks, as well as a color guard, bagpipers, and violinist Reyna Padron performing the National Anthem.

That evening, at 5 p.m., the Los Gatos Veterans Memorial and Support Foundation will hold a tribute at the Flame of Liberty Memorial on the Civic Center Lawn on Main Street. Los Gatos High graduates Mark Bingham and Todd Beamer, who were aboard United Flight 93, were, of course, two well-known heroes of those attacks. The ceremony will include remarks from Los Gatos Mayor Maria Ristow and a performance by the Summit Sisters. It is free to attend but seating is limited.

And Saratoga resident Phil Lenihan has made it a tradition to play his bagpipes for local firefighters in honor of the 343 first responders who died in the World Trade Center collapse. He had previously visited seven different fire stations in the area. But, at 89, the Saratoga Retirement Community resident is taking it easy and will only visit one station, the one on Saratoga Avenue. He’ll also play Monday for his Saratoga Retirement Community neighbors, where he and his wife, Beverly, live.

HISTORICAL AWARDS: Last weekend, the La Raza Historical Society of Santa Clara Valley honored a number of people who have had an impact on our community at its second annual awards dinner, which was held in front of a sold-out crowd at San Jose’s Mexican Heritage Plaza. Former Santa Clara County Supervisor Blanca Alvarado, Chicano activist and educator Jose Carrasco, retired Superior Court Judge Katherine Lucero, La Raza Roundtable Chair Victor Garza, playwright and director Luis Valdez, and retired attorney Fernando Zazueta were among those honored.

ALL ABOARD: The popular Train Days event at the Los Altos History Museum returns next weekend, Sept. 16-17, with plenty of opportunities for visitors to interact with members of model train clubs who will be happy to share their expertise and answer questions about model railroading.

Model train sets will be installed in the museum’s courtyard, as well as the Main Gallery and the Geschke Gallery. It’s open daily from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and admission is $7 (free for museum members and children under 10). More information is available at losaltoshistorymuseum.org/TrainDays2023.

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