Day 10 – Communal lunch brings people together

Photo by Shannon Yang

The band Dirty Cello plays at Downtown San Jose’s first “Big Lunch.” // Photo by Shannon Yang

By Shannon Yang, Mosaic Staff Writer

A long line of white tables and chairs were lined up in the middle of Paseo San Antonio between Second and Fourth, just a stone’s throw away from San José State University.

Dubbed “the Big Lunch,” June 24’s festivities included booths from organizations and local radio stations as well as dance and musical performances. Most of all, the event was a way for people to socialize after grabbing food at nearby restaurants.

Though downtown already hosts events such as the Jazz Summer Fest, Christmas in the Park and Music in the Park, the Big Lunch marked the first ever communal lunch in downtown San José.

Brad Kanich, who works in promotions at radio station 94.5 K-Bay, believes that such a gathering should happen every month.

“This lunch brightens social lives and brings people together to network and socialize,” he said. “It’s meant to get people out of the office to enjoy restaurants.”

“It gets people to come downtown, just sit at the tables and enjoy free food and free music,” his colleague, Jen Graham, adds. “Usually people get food and go back to their desk job and eat, but this is encouraging people not to do that.”

“I loved it. I was actually just walking by,” Elizabeth Reyes, who works on First Street, said. “There are a lot of people here, I got to know them for the first time.”

For Ed Bautista, who works at City Hall, the lunch is also a way to allow downtown to thrive.

“It’s always fun when they have new exciting ways to network in the downtown area, supporting local businesses. There is friends and food. It’s a great way to support economic development.”

Bautista’s colleague, Melina Iglesias, experienced firsthand some of that economic boom.

“I actually downloaded the DoorDash app, which I had never done before,” she said. “I also tried out a restaurant I had really wanted to try, La Lune Sucrée.”

Downtown is the perfect place for a social gathering, many attendees agreed.

“Downtown is great for the accessibility and the diversity of food and restaurants,” Kranich said.

“It’s uniquely different,” Bautista said. “It doesn’t have the hustle bustle of San Francisco, but it’s still a vibrant, active place that’s always improving.”

“There’s a little bit of everything,” Iglesias said. “Grocery, restaurant, shops, movies. It’s easy and casual and you don’t have to go out of your way to do anything.”

One of the highlights of the lunch was the music. There were performances by Dirty Cello and Juxtapositions.

“The music is nice and inviting,” Iglesias said. “It creates a nice little ambience.”

Juxtapositions was hired to curate the music and perform. Freya Seeburger of Juxtapositions finds purpose in playing music at events.

“To make music with friends, it’s really fun,” she said. “I hope that there’s an event like this every day. I would totally help organize and perform.”

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