After nearly 50 years, the original Hobee’s in Mountain View is closing its doors to business, marking the end to a family institution that has been well known for its hearty breakfasts, signature coffee cake and friendly service.
A recent announcement attributed the closure to sluggish weekday sales after the pandemic, as well as to the expenses of upgrading an aging facility.
“My husband and I have witnessed the ebbs and flows of Silicon Valley,” said Camille Chijate, company president and co-owner in a statement. “The pandemic was like a sneaker wave that no one saw coming, and we are still emerging from it.”
The restaurant will close on Nov. 26, with the Chijates planning to open a new Hobee's restaurant in downtown San Jose that also will feature a beer garden. The idea is to coordinate the closure of the original Hobee with the opening of the new location so that long-time employees can keep their jobs.
“That's an important thing at Hobee’s, that customers come in and see familiar faces and feel at home,” Chijate said, adding that employees could work at several of the other Hobee locations too, including Palo Alto, Sunnyvale and Belmont.
The decision to shutter the flagship restaurant, located off of Central Expressway near Rengstorff Avenue, was not an easy one, Chijate said. Both she and her husband were longtime Hobee employees before taking over the franchise from the Taber family in 2017.
“We tried really hard to make it happen here,” Chijate said. For a year and a half, they worked on trying to figure out how to upgrade the restaurant and bring it in line with city codes. But they didn’t receive support from the landlords, Chijate said.
“We just sort of realized they're not in a position to be investing in the property. And so, the writing was kind of on the wall,” Chijate said. “We can't pour a lot of financial resources and energy into a project when we can't get a time commitment from the landlords that the shopping center would actually even still be there."
The Chijates turned their attention to other possible locations, including ones in Mountain View. Ultimately, they settled on a new site in downtown San Jose, deciding to expand the concept of Hobee’s to include a café feel.
In the mornings, the restaurant will serve traditional Hobee's breakfast items, and will transition to pizzas, salads, burgers and craft beer later in the day. “We don't really envision it being like a super party kind of place, but more like a neighborhood or community hub,” Chijate said, adding that the outdoor patio was a big draw, and that the restaurant would be a dog-friendly establishment too.
Although Hobee’s will soon leave Mountain View, it is not necessarily the end of the story for the family restaurant, Chijate said. "In the next couple of years, I wouldn't be shocked if we found another Mountain View spot and said, 'Hey, guess what, we're back.'"
The opening of Hobee’s Restaurant and Beer Garden, located at 261 N. Second St. in downtown San Jose, likely will occur in December. Customers also can visit nearby Hobee’s, and see some of their favorite servers and staff, at its Palo Alto, Sunnyvale and Belmont locations, Chijate said.