Lou's Village Collection

Finding aid created by History San Jose Research Library staff using RecordEXPRESS
History San Jose Research Library
1661 Senter Road
San Jose, California 95112
(408) 287-2290

Descriptive Summary

Title: Lou's Village Collection
Dates: 1946-2015
Collection Number: 2021-4
Creator/Collector: Santoro, Louis Muller, Francis P. Muller, Gloria Santoro Muller, Thomas Francis Muller, Timothy Louis Lou's Village (San Jose, Calif.)
Extent: 4 linear feet (3 boxes, 3 mounted plaques, 2 map folders)
Online items available
Repository: History San Jose Research Library
San Jose, California 95112
Abstract: Collection of menus, marketing materials, news clippings, photographs, and banquet reservation book documenting the history of Lou's Village restaurant, originally located at 1465 W. San Carlos Street, San Jose, from 1946-2005.
Language of Material: English


The collection is open to the public for research by appointment. In addition, nearly all of the content is available online through the Internet Archive.

Publication Rights

Please contact History San Jose for information on publication and reproduction.

Preferred Citation

Lou's Village Collection. History San Jose Research Library

Acquisition Information

Donated to History San Jose in 2021 by one of Lou's former owners.

Biography/Administrative History

During their 25 years working together in the San Jose Fire Department, Lou Santoro and Paul Polizzi planned to open a restaurant when they retired. In November 1945, a building permit was issued to Paul Polizzi to construct a single story restaurant at 1465 W. San Carlos Street. Lou Santoro, Lou Ferro, and Paul Polizzi opened Lou’s Village In 1946. In early 1950 the partners began an extensive expansion of Lou’s Village to increase the dining space, create barbeque grounds in the adjacent walnut orchard, and to add offices, an apartment, and a delicatessen the Village Pantry. The Santoro, Polizzi, and Ferro partnership dissolved in 1951 and Lou’s Village and the adjoining barbeque grounds were sold to Eugene Nelson of San Jose. Later that same year, Lou Santoro and his son-in-law, Frank Muller, bought the restaurant and took over management of Lou’s Village. Together the Santoro–Muller family created a popular dining and entertainment venue whose regular customers could count on Lou’s for a nice evening out. During the 1950s and ‘60s the family persevered in the restaurant business, surviving a fire, remodeling Lou’s twice and changing with their customers’ entertainment and dining preferences. Brothers Tom and Tim Muller grew up at Lou’s Village, helping in the restaurant and with banquets while they were in school. In the 1970s Tom and Tim took over management of the restaurant while continuing to work with their parents Frank and Gloria. During this time they again remodeled Lou’s several times and expanded the banquet and catering sides of the business. In 2005, Lou's closed its doors and the land was sold for development. Tom Muller opened a new, short-lived location in the Willow Glen neighborhood circa 2013.

Scope and Content of Collection

Collection of menus, marketing materials, news clippings, photographs, and banquet reservation book spanning the entire history of Lou's Village. Lou's remained a family-owned operation for over six decades, from its beginnings in the late 1940s as a local restaurant with nightly entertainment and cocktails, expanding in the 1950s to offer large-scale banquet and catering services, then becoming one of the first restaurants in San Jose to specialize in seafood flown in from the East Coast. The menus, in addition to the banquet reservation book, offer insights into restaurant cuisine and trends over a 60-year period.

Indexing Terms

Italian American families
Restaurant management
Seafood industry
Nineteen forties
Dinners and dining
Buffets (Cooking)
Nineteen fifties
Nineteen sixties
Nineteen seventies
Nineteen eighties
Nineteen nineties
Two thousands
San Jose (Calif.)
photographic prints
clippings (information artifacts)
appointment books