At 7 Bamboo after 10:30 pm, a drum roll explodes from PA and a man named “Dick Grayson” appears on stage. So far, the music in San Jose’s karaoke bar has been a vibrant mix of hip-hop, alternative rock and Serena. But now it’s too exaggerated to play, and as a man named after Batman’s disciple praises the virtues of the beauty and the beast villain Gaston, the already loose crowd is shaking:
“No one is as fast as Gaston / no one is as smooth as Gaston / no incredibly thick neck like Gaston.”
A crowd joins in and a lot of voices ring in support of the fictional cockscomb. Even non-drinkers swing their arms as if they were lifting Stein. By the time the song reaches an instrumental break, 7 Bamboo erupts with a loud applause.
It feels like I’m back in San Jose on Saturday night, 16 months after the California bars and clubs were closed. A few minutes after “Dick Grayson,” the man stands up to Johnny Cash’s eternal “Ring of Fire” yell. The amplified crowd applauds to the downbeat and says: Burned! Burned! Burned! “
7 Bamboo, located in Japantown, San Jose, has brought music to Jackson Street since 1983, when the Umehara family bought it from its original owner. Since 2014, Bamboo has been owned by the owner of nearby Jack’s. In addition to the sophisticated interior redesign with LED floral tendrils, one of the first changes made by the new management was to replace the songbook with an online system.
“Song binders-managing and updating wasn’t fun,” says owner Jordan Trigger.
Since resuming after COVID, Bamboo has had some additional changes. On the front, a twin flat screen in the street window allows Parklet patrons to see both the performer and the lyrics at the same time.
And while the 3-ring binder was gone for a long time, now there are no flashcards or golf pencils for submitting song selections.
When someone wants to queue up lately, they scan one of the many QR codes posted around the bar. The code links to the karaoke app Songbooks Online, where you can log in or create an ID to access available songs and sign up for your spot in the glittering lights of the stage.
“It’s very easy unless you’ve had a few cups,” Trigg says with a laugh. “I have some issues, but I’m getting good feedback. It’s getting better every week.”
The QR (or “quick response”) code was first introduced in Japan in 1994. Its thick black and white design was inspired by the layout of the Go board. Using your camera phone to scan one of the pixelated squares, you can perform tasks ranging from submitting vCard contacts to auto-filling forms to registering for karaoke.
Despite having existed for almost 30 years, QR codes have been widely deployed in the United States. Critics have expressed concern that the need for smartphones will exclude poor people, uncontained people, and people who dislike technology. And at the bar, staring at your cell phone can come up as antisocial, or worse, basic.
However, the pandemic initially accelerated the use of QR codes in the United States for hygienic reasons, but is increasing for other reasons.
“If we always print paper menus, that’s another expense for us,” says Cash Boren, owner of downtown cocktail bar Haberdasher.
Bohren was the owner of the underground bar because it was a high-concept Speakeasy called a single barrel. After splitting with a partner in 2015, Bohren brought the downstairs joint to its current form as a more comprehensible cocktail bar. He is also currently preparing to open another facility in downtown. CashOnly is a honky-tonk-themed bar currently shaped by Santa Clara’s old dive bar.
At Haberdasher, Bohren states that print menus cost between $ 0.14 and $ 0.18 per page, “ink cartridges cost hundreds of dollars each month.”
“All of this is added up,” he points out.
In addition to the cost of printing a paper menu, there is also the waste issue that becomes noticeable when the bar rotates the tap on a regular basis. Gonzalo Acevedo, manager of Camino Brewing on the other side of the 280, says the brewery printed about 80 menus a day before the pandemic. By switching to restaurant-style seats with a QR code on each table, we have dramatically reduced that number.
“We serve guests who want a paper menu, but I don’t print more than five sheets a day,” says Acevedo.
This saves 75 sheets of paper per day. The brewery is open 6 days a week and uses more than 23,000 sheets of paper annually.
“It was useless,” says Haberdasher Boren. “We were always throwing away these menus. I need to be honest with you, we all have this device in our pocket, why we are more accustomed to using it Isn’t it? “
Perhaps we should be. A recent Esquire article quoting higher education institutions and marketing professionals in the food and beverage industry concluded that “the QR code menu seems to stay here.” Two of the main reasons cited: cost and waste.
Sure, the number of customers who are two-tone scannable but resist the onslaught is declining, but holdouts remain.
“Some people still hate it, but the vast majority of customers are used to using the device,” says Bourne.
That’s good because Esquire might have been right for the QR code to stay here. 7 Bamboo, Haberdasher, Camino, Mini Boss, and many other bars scattered downtown all plan to make them permanent.
“That was awesome,” says Acevedo. “We have adopted a new policy, but it’s all for safety and our customers appreciate it.”
QR codes that are loved, hated, or simply scanned and moved are now part of downtown nights. And after one of the most difficult years in the industry, they helped bars throughout South Bay navigate their return to business. More than a month after California reopened, almost all of South Bay’s nightlife spots are reopening, opening for the first time, or preparing to open soon.
Please remember. Charge your smartphone before you go to the South Bay bar scene. You may need it.
Staff from Grace Stetson, Syrus Fotovat, and Metro contributed to the story.
Open Doors: The QR Revolution Has Arrived at San Jose’s Bars Source link Open Doors: The QR Revolution Has Arrived at San Jose’s Bars