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B-Hive Yourself

New club dazzles downtown San Jose

By Todd S. Inoue

B-Hive was buzzing. With that inevitable cliché out of the way, the B-Hive Kafe made its debut on South First Street in downtown San Jose on Thursday night (Nov. 14), not without some last-minute delays that kept people queued up on the sidewalk 15 minutes past the scheduled VIP reception.

"We're going to be left with the skunky beer," grumbled one of the VIPs. "They want a line because a line on opening night looks good," postulated another. Finally, the door opened, and the crowd pounded upstairs. The main cogs of B-Hive stood in a receiving line greeting customers as if at a cruise ship departure or opening day at the Stanford Bloomingdale's.

The most repeated line among downtown regulars was "Who ARE all these people?" Fronting in Armani suits and Betsy Johnson dresses, there was enough fake cream to start a Cool Whip factory. As if to offset the Los Gatos Brewing Company-meets-Swingers vibe, the fashions were decidedly mixed.

Cactus Club owner Mike Trippett paid respect in a stylish tan suit ensemble. Francis "Franic" Delfino puffed on stogies and chilled in his black Amish-outlaw outfit. Merc writer Brad Kava proved jean jackets are here to stay.

Columnist Leigh "I Never Met a Reception I Didn't Like" Weimers made the scene in a comfortable tan corduroy number. The expected no-show of the night, ex-Ajax impresario Chris Esparza, was just that. Later on, I spotted him casually shooting pool at South First Billiards.

Owner Jacek Rosicki left his trademark red-wool sports coat at the dry cleaners and opted for winter colors. He must have boned up on Leo Buscaglia books; he was hugging everybody in sight. And as if to cement his owner/janitor status, Rosicki dutifully picked up black plastic plates and gingerly returned dirty glasses to the bar throughout the night--that is, when he wasn't hugging somebody.

Luv Machine

Bud E. Luv and his orchestra worked the crowd with his cheesy mix of disco and standards--much like B-Hive itself, which is elegant and fancy with a smirk. The sound system was tops. The space has always been a good-sounding room and, with the added cash flow, stands to sound even better.

The platters of chicken skewers, marinated peppers, artichokes, mushrooms and fresh fruit were disappearing as quick as they were set down. If you build it, and hold an opening-night reception, they will come--and eat and drink you out of house and home. The conga line of freeloaders raided the buffet all night as if it were a Goma relief freight.

B-Hive's embellishments were working as hard as the food assemblers. With the low-wattage lighting sprouting out of the ceiling every few feet, the B-Hive could double as an art gallery or a fashion boutique. Thankfully, it's not as smoky as when the space was Ajax. The ventilation is superior, making all the trendy cigar smoke vanish as soon as it's exhaled. Now, only if they can keep the posers out, too.

Grade: B+ for B-Hive.

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