The Blue Door

San Jose, CA

The Blue Door restaurant brings contemporary Greek cuisine to San Jose, California, marrying Mediterranean and American tastes in both menu and design. The owners, Pete and Silvia Foundas, worked with the Oakland-based architecture and design firm Arcsine to create a restaurant modeled after the couples’ favorite resorts in Southern Greece.

This strip in San Jose, located on Saratoga Avenue, is already home to several chain restaurants, but the owners of the Blue Door wanted to provide a different option for local diners—something more sophisticated with a breakfast, lunch and dinner menu. Catering to both suburban families and the Silicon Valley crowd, the renovated restaurant is the type of place where you can stop for a drink, or sit down and have a full meal with dessert to boot. Patrons feel at home enjoying a menu that combines fresh ingredients with comfort foods like meatloaf and mac’n’cheese. The Arcsine team created seating for 194 diners within the approximately 5,000 square foot restaurant (excluding the kitchen space), with additional seating for 84 people in the 1,600 square foot patio area. The Blue Door officially opened on March 7th.

As guests approach the restaurant, its rectangular white exterior calls to mind the cascading architecture of Santorini, while drapery across the outdoor pergola brings a sense of ease to the busy strip mall locale. Once inside, dark and painted woods keep the environment warm and approachable, while the neutral color palate brings a contemporary feel.

The interior is divided into three sections by a wood pergola, allowing the space to feel intimate while remaining well-lit. To the right of the entrance is a large bar with a beautiful stone back splash as well as lit display shelving utilizing traditional forms but detailed with an eye towards the contemporary. This gives the space a comfortable homelike ambiance while maintaining a modern sensibility. Moving toward the center, diners can get a glimpse into the kitchen thanks to display shelving and glazing that peers directly into the area, enhancing the sense of intimacy. The residential feel continues on through the main dining room until reaching the dessert lounge at the far left of the restaurant, which features a fireplace with stone cladding and a hewn wood mantel. Guests can enjoy the soft, cushy chairs and booths that comprise most of the restaurant’s seating and offer the comforts of home.

The Blue Door features tech-enhanced details found in both the lighting and the craftsmanship. In line with California’s Title 24 lighting code, all of the fixtures used in the renovation had to meet strict energy efficiency and green building standards. The contemporary aesthetic also let the designers get creative with familiar building techniques, as can be seen in the clean lines of the millwork, or the water-jet-cut aluminum on the corners of the interior pergola.

Of course, the restaurant also features a namesake blue door—a tribute to the beauty of the Mediterranean Sea, superstitions surrounding the evil eye, and an unequivocally Greek aesthetic.