I met Mr. Harada at the old car wash station in Martha’s Garden, off of South First Street in San Jose, near what was once Faber’s Cyclery. I arrived in my 1942 Steelcraft pedal car, modeled after the WWII Spitfire airplane. Mr. Harada had just soaped up his 1950s GMC cabover Truck manufactured by the Binghampton Manufacturing Corporation of New York.

We gingerly washed our tiny pedal-powered vehicles as the sun began to set.

Mr. Harada looked dismayed as he rubbed the last bit of wax from his ride. I too was a bit disappointed with my vehicle’s lack-luster paint job. Seventy-plus years of hard cruising can do that to a pedal car. Luckily, one of our favorite auto body/paint establishments was just up the street, next to our favorite live music venue: The Cactus Club.

We slipped into evening traffic and pumped our legs at 420 rpm to achieve a respectable 7 mph as we headed toward the shop. We passed the haunted Faber’s building and passed under the highway 280 overpass. Our pedal-powered vehicles squeaked with joy as we shimmied past City Lights Theater.

Mr. Harada and I arrived at the old address and were met with a new reality. Our beloved Cactus Club was cleaned up, polished and vacant of a crowd. More importantly, the paint shop was now a brewery, after an apparent short stint as an arthouse. San Jose changes quickly, unconcerned with old memories.

Mr. Harada and I hopped out of our rides and arranged them near the front entrance. I rattled my keys and said, “Bee boop!” One must deter pedal-car bandits—no one messes with an alarmed ride, and not every pedal-pusher can afford an Alpine security system.

We stepped into the spacious room and I remembered the old Mercedes that used to sit in the front corner. I first saw it when it was a burgundy color, around 1994, but over the years it picked up a dusty grey. Now the space was filled with handsome, soon-to-be occupied tall tales. Stainless steel brewing equipment glistened in the back. My mustache quivered as I heard the sound of food sizzling in the kitchen.

We parlayed at the bar and I chose a delicious IPA crafted onsite by Uproar. If I’m not mistaken, Mr. Harada had the Fieldwork Lager. We took our places at the tall tables and began observing the crowd. Uproarites are generally well-behaved artistic types. Most of the people on this night looked agreeable, except one.

A hulkish character came tromping towards us looking half Wolfman Jack and half IT engineer, a combination that would be barred entry from even the Pokémon universe. He strolled with an unfailing confidence, as if he owned the place. It was Steve Vandewater, the owner of the place.

Steve was quite hospitable and generous with tales of his trials and tribulations. It took a lot to open Uproar. A vast amount of money and time was spent to give the SoFA District a proper brewery. Steve and his wife, along with a dedicated team, fought gremlins, orcs, dragons and everything else that has thrived at City Hall in the new century. Luckily for us, all we had to do was sit back and enjoy several fresh cervezas.

Although Steve experienced quite a bit of frustration, he recalled the ordeals with a glint of satisfaction in his eye. He had succeeded in turning what was once a budget car paint shop into an impressive brewery in the heart of downtown San Jose.

After the minorest of consultations, Mr. Haraad and I agreed that Uproar Brewery is a change that warrants our blessing. Sure, the pedal cars will have to be shipped to north San Jose for a proper paint job, but it’s a small price to pay: they fit on Light Rail, which is an exceedingly reasonable
$2 each way.

Uproar Brewing Company
439 S 1st St, San Jose