Beloved San Jose Restaurant Shuts Its Doors

SAN JOSE (CBSSF) — If you looked closely, the smiles of the waitresses held just a hint of sadness at Flames Coffee Shop Sunday morning.

That, and the empty bakery cases, were the only signs that anything out of the ordinary was happening.

“We didn’t know that this was the last day,” said Carolyn Durandette, who says she’s a regular customer. “We were VERY surprised to find out.”

Twenty five years ago, Flames moved into what had been the first Bob’s Big Boy in Northern California and the new owners decided not to change a thing.

“We don’t even have computers in here,” said hostess Connie Amezcua. “We still write tickets by hand.”

It’s an old-fashioned place that fries hash browns by the acre and no one goes home hungry, but Flames sits across the street from trendy Santana Row and someone thinks what this place needs is a million square feet of office space so the coffee shop is standing in the way of progress.

“We knew all along it was coming and then when they told us it was really gonna happen, we’re all like…what?” Amezcua said. “It’s really happening?”

Erlinda Carino, a long-time customer, says she’s sad to see her favorite coffee shop go away.

“I understand it, because things have to come and go,” she said. “But at the same time I wish they did stay.”

Carloyn Durandette and her husband sit near the kitchen every Sunday so they can tease the cooks. They say this place makes people feel like family. Like the time a customer passed away and the entire staff went out to the sidewalk to watch the hearse drive by.

“The procession went by and they were all saying their final goodbye to him,” she said. “And I just, you know, that’s the kind of place it was.”

More from John Ramos

One Comment

  1. Ben says:

    John — some better context to this story would be nice. There are several Flames locations throughout San Jose. The one you are referring to being near Santana Row is just one of them.

  2. chaostheorem says:

    Ben, while this is true, some would argue that the Flames on Winchester is probably one of the best known, given its proximity to the old Century theatres and Valley Fair mall. Hopefully they will end up donating the large outside sign to the local historical society.

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