E & O Trading Co. has called it quits after 11 years on South First Street in San Jose. Word is they fell behind on rent and left everything: plates, pots and pans, the works. There was talk of new executive chef Arnold Wong breathing some life into the restaurant, but the menu changes were only made at the San Francisco location. The food at the San Jose restaurant remained the same. I had some good meals there (I particularly liked their take on a banh mi sandwich), but for whatever reason the restaurant couldn’t hold it together and walked away.

But unlike most restaurant closures, this one has a happy ending, at least for the new tenant. Nick Tsigaris, owner of the-always packed Flames Eatery and Bar, has leased the building from owner Barry Swenson Builder.

Tsigaris, the son of one of the three brothers who opened the original Three Flames restaurant in 1980, said it’s too early to talk about the restaurant’s concept, but word on the street is it’s going to a higher-end Greek restaurant with a lively bar scene.

Tsigaris told me he would have more to say about the restaurant’s concept in about five months. Given that Flames is one of downtown’s most successful restaurants, it’s safe to say Tsigaris knows what he’s doing, but we’ll have to wait and see. 

The fact that a local business owner is willing to jump on opportunity in the still rocky downtown restaurant scene is a good sign. While he didn’t have any details on the new restaurant, Lee Wilcox, downtown manager for the city of San Jose, said he’s beginning to see signs of life in the area’s restaurant scene.

“I’m hearing from downtown restaurant and bar owners that things are steadily starting to pick up,” he said. “Hopefully, things are starting to point in the right direction.”