2014 – A Year in Downtown Gilroy

2014 was a busy year in our beautiful downtown! While putting the information together for this post, we were amazed at how long our list of just the highlights turned out. We have definitely shown that there is always something happening downtown.

Like every year, there were a lot of great things going on, tempered by a few disappointments, in 2014. Let’s get the down side out of the way, first (it’s a lot shorter):

  • Garlic City Billiards closed its doors. It turns out that our 3rd Annual Billiards Rally was also the last. (At least until another billiards parlor opens.)
  • In September, Station 55 Bar and Grill served its last meal and shut the doors. The owner, Charles, was a strong supporter for building up downtown, co-sponsoring the Fifth Street Live music events and hosting a number of fund raising events for worthwhile organizations.
  • Only 2 live music venues continue downtown – The Milias Restaurant and Rio Nilo.

On the positive side of the ledger:

  • The Paseo to the Eigleberry parking lot finally opened! (It makes things much, much nicer.)
  • The empty URM buildings are almost all in the process of being prepared for occupancy.
  • Several of the currently empty buildings are scheduled to get tenants in (early?) 2015.
  • As reported by a number of merchants and restaurants, it looks like more people are shopping and eating downtown.

And now, to accentuate the positive, in 2014 we had:

Weekly Events:


  • Champagne brunch at the Old City Hall Restaurant
  • Family Night with karaoke for kids at Station 55

Tuesday through Saturday:

  • Live music at The Milias Restaurant


  • Line dancing at the Old City Hall Restaurant
  • Free stand up comedy at Station 55


  • Trivia night (with prizes) at Station 55


  • Karaoke at the Old City Hall Restaurant and at Gilroy Bowl
  • Live music at Station 55


  • Karaoke at the Old City Hall Restaurant and at Gilroy Bowl
  • Live music at Station 55

(As you can see, when Station 55 closed down, we lost a lot.)

Bring Your Own Dinner Theater – The Limelight Actors Theater put on some fantastic shows in 2014.

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  • The Outrageous Adventures of Sheldon & Mrs Levine
  • Sister Robert Anne’s Cabaret Class
  • Nana’s Naughty Knickers
  • Love Letters (a special fundraiser for the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research)
  • Art
  • Love, Loss & What I Wore

If you haven’t experienced our bring-your-own-dinner theater, you are in for a treat. The performers and the plays are consistently top notch. As for dining, the doors open about 2 hours ahead of the performance, and people bring their dinner and eat in the theater. It is a wonderful way to have a special night out with friends.

Limelight Actors Theater website and Facebook.

Restaurant Rallies – The monthly Restaurant Rallies brought people together for evenings of good food and meeting new people. We made it to almost all the restaurants downtown a couple of times. It is a lot of low-pressure fun. Everyone is welcome.

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In 2014, restaurant rallies were held at

One rally, enjoying the best of two locations, was held at the Bella Viva Ristorante e Caffe, dining on food ordered from the Garlic City Cafe. The Holiday Cheer Rally was also held at the Bella Viva Ristorante e Caffe,

Check the RRDG calendar for the upcoming rallies and feel free to join in. You order off the menu, and everyone pays their own bill.

Gilroy Center for the Arts

Gilroy Center for the Arts

Gilroy Arts Alliance: Art Exhibits – We don’t have the photographs to do them justice, but the Gilroy Arts Alliance presented a series of exhibits by local and regional artists and photographers. The Gilroy Center for the Arts is open to the public (see the web site for hours) and, besides the currently running exhibit, has artwork and jewelry for sale. The exhibits in 2014 included:

  • Young artists Poster Exhibit
  • The Art of Alex Gorlick
  • The Art of Diane Wallace
  • Wings and Wheels – the Art of Bob Hope
  • Valle del Sur Art Guild Members Exhibit
  • Northern California Art Fusion Members Exhibit
  • Dia de los Muertos Exhibit
  • The Art of Marianne Eichenbaum

The Gilroy Arts Alliance calendar of events can be found by clicking here.

Annual Events – There are a number of annual events that take place downtown. They are all a lot of fun, but the real purpose is to show people that we have some wonderful stores and restaurants downtown.

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  • The Burrito Run (motorcycle rally) – every New Year’s Day
  • Billiard Rally (final) – April
  • The Art and Wine Stroll – Late May
  • The Garlic City Fun Run (antique car show) – July
  • The Tamal Festival – added in October, 2014 (one tamal, many tamales)
  • The Halloween Beer Crawl – added in October, 2014
  • The Downtown Holiday Parade – December

The Burrito run happens spontaneously – you can read more about it by clicking here.

The Gilroy Downtown Business Association sponsors the Art and Wine Stroll; the Garlic City Fun Run; the Halloween Beer Crawl; and the Downtown Holiday Parade. You can find out about upcoming events by clicking here.

The Tamal Festival (first of many, we hope), is sponsored by El Charrito Market and CARAS. You can take a peek at El Charrito Market by clicking here. You can find out more about CARAS by clicking here.

Popup Stores – Rally Round Downtown Gilroy brought vendors and information booths downtown during the Wine Stroll, just to show people some of the things that we could have downtown. We had a lot of fun with this, and got some great positive feedback. Look for more popup stores at future downtown events.

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Click here to see more.

Click here to see more.

Click here to see more about all the popup stores at the Wine Stroll.

The Limelight Lounge – The Gilroy Arts Alliance and the the Limelight Actors Theater worked together to bring cabaret-style entertainment to downtown Gilroy with the Limelight Lounge series.

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2014 performers included:

  • Patti Lemon
  • Corner Pocket
  • Janet Thompson

Featuring cabaret, jazz, comedy, standards, blues and popular music, starring the best of Bay Area talent. Unlike the theater shows, this is not a “Bring Your Own Dinner” evening, but guests are welcome to bring their own wine (the corkage fee is donated to the Gilroy Center for the Arts). Concessions are open with a selection of sodas, coffee, wine, cookies and more. Watch for the new season of the Limelight Lounge to start on March 24. For information and reservations, go to the Limelight Actors Theater web page.

And more …

There were a lot of other individual events that went on downtown:

  • The Super Bowl party at Station 55 Bar and Grill.
  • The International Day of Women lecture “The Works of Elena Poniatowska” presented by the Gilroy Arts Alliance.
  • The downtown mixer hosted by the Gilroy Downtown Business Association.
  • The Water Conservation workshop put on by the Demonstration Garden.
  • The Chili Cookoff benefit for Rebekah’s Children Services hosted by Station 55 Bar and Grill.
  • The Silicon Valley Open Studios weekend at Leedo Art and Framing.
  • The “Shine a Light on Autism” benefit hosted by Station 55 Bar and Grill.
  • The 3rd annual Amoretto Boutique fashion show.
  • The Youth Art Camp and adult art classes put on by the Gilroy Arts Alliance.
  • The 4th annual Farm-to-Table dinner at the Demonstration Garden.
  • Halloween parties at the Bella Viva Ristorante e Caffe and the Old City Hall Restaurant.
  • Small Business Saturday – coordinated by the Gilroy Downtown Business Association.
  • Evening shopping hours with free gift consultations for late shoppers at Amoretto Boutique and Leedo Art and Framing.
  • A big New Year’s Eve bash at the Old City Hall Restaurant.

Almost Downtown – There were a few events that were not quite downtown, but close by.

Gilroy Farmers’ Market – The Farmers’ Market moved from downtown to the City Hall parking lot in 2013. This turned out to be a great move for the market – attendance has grown tremendously. It is close enough to downtown that we feel, for old times’ sake, we should give it a boost. Besides, you should really stop and get breakfast (at a downtown restaurant), or at least a coffee (at 5th Street Coffee) before you shop. Everyone knows you shouldn’t shop on an empty stomach. In 2014, the Gilroy Farmers’ Market ran from May 31 through Nov. 22. The slideshow presents just a sampling of what you will find.

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PorchFest – This tremendous musical event brought live music to porches along Hanna Street on September 20. Crowds moved around between the 3 concurrent performances for each of the 45-minute sets. It turned out to be a great day. The perfect end for a fantastic event? Go downtown for dinner and talk about your favorite performers. With over 20 acts on 6 different porches, we can’t show you everything, but here is a little of what we saw:

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PorchFest 2015 is in the planning stages. If you would like to perform, volunteer your porch, or participate in any way, you can contact the PorchFest organizers through their web page by clicking here.

One thought on “2014 – A Year in Downtown Gilroy

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