Consider me among those stunned by the bankruptcy filing and the abrupt – and I hope temporary – closing of the Fairmont Hotel in downtown San Jose. Hotels and restaurants have been absolutely devastated by the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, but I would have gambled on the Fairmont weathering the storm.
When the hotel reopens, probably under a new brand, it will mark the end of an era in San JosÃ©. The iconic hotel was the crown jewel in the downtown redevelopment effort when it first opened in 1987 and quickly became the place to see and be seen. His guests included Presidents Clinton and Obama, countless celebrities, from Muhammad Ali to Lady Gaga, and other dignitaries visiting San Jose. It has been the site of hundreds of benefit galas, has hosted lavish and modest weddings, and has provided a backdrop for downtown events such as Christmas in the Park and San Jose Jazz Summer Fest.
Of course, the 805-room tower and annex are going nowhere and could certainly be part of a downtown rebirth after a pandemic. But it won’t be the same, and no matter what it’s called, it will be a long time before people stop referring to the hotel as Fairmont.
BINGO-VERSARY: We are approaching a year since the first stay-at-home requests changed the way we do everything, including having fun. Downtown San Jose event guy Fil Maresca definitely knows when that happened because a year ago he had to move his fun 80s musical bingo games from the Fountainhead Bar in SoFA Market to this thing called “Zoom” that few people had heard. March 2020. The anniversary edition of the game takes place on March 10 at 6 pm It’s free to play: Maresca spins a snippet of an 80s song and you match the artist to your personalized bingo card, And you can win prizes while also introducing your kids to some classic tunes. Check it out at www.facebook.com/80sVirtualBingo.
MOVING RIGHT ALONG: Steve Dini, who built a second career as a drama teacher at Pioneer High after he finished his first as a morning radio host, has withdrawn the Morgan Hill bets and headed to Texas. But Dini’s departure to the Lone Star state is not a protest like Elon Musk’s; he just wants to be closer to his grandchildren. Assuming the pandemic recedes, he plans to return this fall to perform with the Pioneer High group Glue Factory and visit family members who are still around.
The small town near Fort Worth he moved to is called Prosper, Dini reports, and it’s covered in brown Bermuda grass that he was told will turn green in about a month. You haven’t seen the CEO of Tesla in Texas yet – “One of his rockets can fall from the sky here at any moment,” he joked – but you haven’t seen many real Texans, either.
“They all seem to be ex-Californians like us,” Dini said. “We met our next door neighbor today and she and her husband are from Orange County, and another couple we met is from San Diego.”
CARING FOR CHRIS WILDER: There have been a lot of good wishes and positive thoughts shared for Valley Medical Center Foundation CEO Chris Wilder, who was hospitalized after a stroke last weekend. Family members say it may be a few days before Wilder’s prognosis is known, but if karma counts for anything, Wilder has a lot of credit in his bank. The VMC Foundation is committed to keeping people updated whenever possible on its website, www.vmcfoundation.org.
But while good wishes and concern are appreciated, Wilder’s family has one request: Please stop calling the hospital to ask about him, as the flood of calls has overwhelmed the staff. I won’t name the hospital to help stop the calls.