SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — The line outside San Jose’s legendary Harry’s Hofbrau stretched for nearly a block Tuesday as long-time customers awaited one final taste of the corned beef or of the famed turkey sandwich.
After 42 years, the cafeteria and bar located in West San Jose, will permanently close its doors later in the day, leaving behind memories of family gatherings, first dates and birthday celebrations.
Among those who patiently waited for a lunch seating was Barbara Lepiane.
“I’ve been coming her since I was a kid with my parents,” she told KPIX 5. “So I had to come one more time … There’s nowhere like this. It’s tradition. I’ve been coming here since I did with my parents 40 years ago.”
Rose Apodaca was in San Jose when she got a call from her boyfriend in San Juan Baptista. She was waiting to get some to-go food to take back to her Monterey County home.
“He was in a panic [after learning of the closing],” she said. “It’s sad. It’s been such a tradition for us.”
Georgia Raye has been eating at Harry’s for more than three decades. “It’s an icon,” she said. “We’ve been here for years.”
Overlooking the gathering was Harry’s owner Larry Kramer.
“I’m feeling sad in so many ways,” Kramer told KPIX 5. “But also happy that we’ve had so many customers for so many years … From the day we opened in 1976 we’ve had customers who have grown up here. There kids have grown up here. So heartwarming to see that.”
The decision to close was not Kramer’s.
“We don’t have a lease,” he said.
Two developers, Prometheus Real Estate Group and Shorenstein, have teamed up and are planning to tear down the restaurant as part of a massive mixed-use center on the 15-acre block located at Saratoga Avenue and Stevens Creek Boulevard.
Once part of a larger chain, two remaining locations still open are in Redwood City and San Leandro.