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Willow Glen--This Friday the 13th, John Karamanos has good reason to feel lucky. Not only has his newly renamed establishment, The Glen, reached the one-year mark, but also he's gained what he has long sought: a permit to pour drinks until 2am. To celebrate, he's dovetailing The Glen's first late night with a one-year anniversary bash.

Between changing its name, surviving the smoke-free bars law and battling with the neighbors and the city over the late-night permit, the combination billiards hall, brewpub and dining establishment endured a rough first year of existence.

"I'm a Willow Glen resident; I understand why Willow Glen is as tough as it is," Karamanos says. "You want to bring the right mix of businesses down there. As long as everyone plays by the rules and as long as everyone else is held to the same standards we're held to, we have no problems with that."

The Glen's first 2am close comes nine months after the Planning Commission approved a trial six-month conditional use permit for Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

While The Glen, then called Willow Glen Billiards and Brew, technically opened in July 1997, owners Horst Brenner and Karamanos decided not to hold the anniversary party in July of this year. "We wanted to make sure we had 2am when we did it," Karamanos said.

Some neighbors are still wary about late-night noise and people parking on their streets.

"Downtown Willow Glen is just not the right place for that," Peggy Rossignol, a Meredith Avenue resident, says. "We have the zoning in downtown San Jose for after-hour types of places. Willow Glen is not zoned for that."

Karamanos has been optimistic since the name change in August. "[The name] Billiards and Brew had a certain stereotype associated with it, but now a lot of the residents hang out there," Karamanos said.

In fact, Karamanos boasts, The Glen has become so popular that dinner customers are often turned away. "If you don't have a reservation on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday, it's almost impossible to get in for dinner," he says.

"It's amazing what that name change did. You're not such an easy scapegoat anymore. Billiards and Brew, that's an easy scapegoat, but The Glen, it's part of the community," Karamanos says.
Michelle Ku

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