A new upscale Peruvian-Japanese fusion restaurant is coming to the former Valeriano's location at 160 W. Main Street in downtown Los Gatos.
Last Wednesday, the Los Gatos Planning Commission voted unanimously to recommend B & G Group LLC's application to modify the conditional-use permit for the property to operate the restaurant that will have a small bar and a DJ host for special corporate events and private parties up to eight times a month. The building, which used to be a bank, is owned by Robert and Muriel Brouwer.
B & G Group wanted the restaurant and bar to operate from 5 p.m. - midnight Monday through Wednesday; 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Thursday through Saturday, and 9:30 a.m. to midnight on Sunday, stopping alcohol service 30 minutes before closing time.
However, planners balked at that idea and instead recommended that the business' hours of operation match those of the town's alcoholic beverage policy, meaning closing times of 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 1 a.m. Friday, Saturday, holidays, and evenings before holidays.
In addition, the Los Gatos-Monte Sereno Police Department didn't support the increased hours for alcoholic beverage service beyond the hours allowed by the town's policy.
Former San Jose Councilwoman Linda Lazotte, representing B and G Group LLC, pleaded with planners to allow the new establishment to remain open until 2 a.m. Thursday through Saturday, stopping alcohol service at 1:30 a.m., to be competitive with other nearby businesses and accommodate late-night diners.
Lazotte mentioned how other town establishments such the are allowed to offer late night alcohol service until 1:30 a.m. seven days a week, and that B & G would keep the new kitchen open with food service as required when alcohol is served.
"What we're proposing is a sophisticated restaurant that has an ancillary bar," Lazotte said.
The proposed alcohol beverage counter would only have six seats; an additional space for a person with a disability could be added, she said. "It's entirely a restaurant. We'll be offering Sunday brunch, dinner and also a late night Asian-Peruvian restaurant menu that will sort of offer an alternative dining experience for people in Los Gatos and people coming to visit."
Lezotte said the business, which will not have a dance floor, hopes to garner people who are more used to a European type of evening when dinner is consumed much later than traditional hours.
The restaurant's capacity will be 72 seats prior to 5:30 p.m., 108 seats after that time.
B and G Group managing member Bobby Sarnevesht said the business would also like to offer valet parking.
At the planning commission meeting, Downtown Broadway Avenue resident Maria Ristow said she represents neighbors who feel there's been a lot of intensification of entertainment and bars in the town's core. "The concerns we have in the downtown are that as we have more restaurants serving liquor later, or having entertainment. We have more noise and we have more vandalism."
Regardless of what the business is, Ristow said, what raises a red flag for the neighborhood was the proposal to serve alcohol until 1:30 a.m. "We're having more entertainment, more alcohol," she said, asking for the DJ component of the business to be deferred until the town creates an entertainment policy, which it lacks.
Planning Commission member Margaret Smith said the DJ request made it appear the establishment would be having entertainment every weekend, but Lazotte explained that if a corporate group wanted to book the music in the middle of the week, it would be granted a permit on Wednesday or Thursday.
When Smith asked what percentage of sales the business would do between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m., Sarnevesht answered that between 35 and 40 percent would come from food sales, and not alcohol.
The later hours, he said, would have the most draw based on how other locations are doing in town. "We're trying to improve, not copy what others are doing," he said. "It's a model we've seen in different cities."
"The emphasis you've placed is on the late hours being really important, and what I'm trying to get an idea of is how revenue-driven that time will be for this business owner," Smith said.
In making a motion to deny the request, Commissioner Marico Sayoc expressed concern that the business' request was going against the alcoholic beverage policy.
"I just feel very uncomfortable approving an application that goes against what is currently existing. As of today, (policy) clearly states we must make findings when alcohol is being served beyond a certain time," Sayoc said.
Smith said she believed Los Gatos is experiencing an intensification of late-night alcoholic-focused businesses in the downtown. "Something seems to have changed there (and) 90 percent of the discussion was on the service of alcoholic beverages, rather than the premise which is to bring a fine dining restaurant to downtown. This is where I'm conflicted. There's so much focus on the need to serve the alcoholic beverage versus the fine dining aspects of a very unusual restaurant," Smith said.
In sharing Sayoc's concerns, Commission John Bourgeois moved to recommend to the Los Gatos Town Council approval of the application with modified conditions that the hours of operation be consistent with the alcoholic beverage policy, and that the DJ entertainment proposal be deferred until an entertainment policy is drafted.