Guitarist’s live outdoor music is bringing downtown Palo Alto restaurants back to life

PALO ALTO (KPIX) — Mondays have become the new Fridays for some restaurants in downtown Palo Alto thanks to live music.

That’s why on Mondays and Thursdays, you’ll find Mike Annuzzi playing his guitar at a low-key setup on California Avenue in Palo Alto. His gig? Entertain the people dining at Terun, iTalico, and the other restaurants that line the street.

“This has definitely made a big difference in my life and in my career,” he said.

Up until the pandemic, he was a touring musician. But when COVID struck, he lost 60 gigs overnight. He wondered if he’d have to give up his passion.

“I was scared because you know, this is all I knew,” he said.

It almost happened. But his passion led him to purpose, and to Maico Campilongo, who owns Terun and iTalico, in the summer of 2020.

“Everything happens for a reason,” Campilongo said.

Campilongo’s restaurants and the others on the street needed help. A musician himself, Campilongo thought outdoor live music could provide that, and Annuzzi would be the special ingredient.

About two years later, it turns our he was right.

“The numbers on a Monday night are very close to a Friday night,” he said.

Terun is doing about 40% better than it did in 2019, according to Campilongo.

“There is no doubt that the music brings business up,” he said.

Another business on the block followed his lead, so there is now live music three nights a week on California Avenue.

“During the day you see an empty street sometimes, kind of dead. But at night, with the lights and the heating outside, you see what has been my dream for many years: replicating what happens in Europe,” he said. “It brings this happiness on the street that we really need.”

Annuzzi has scaled down from loading up for big gigs to setting up his own little makeshift stage. But the change of venue allowed him to find his rhythm.

“It’s really special,” he said.

He’s found new purpose in contributing to the community.

“When the businesses tell me that they appreciate it, or it’s helping the business grow and helping the community have some joy and some really great experiences, that’s what keeps me coming back,” he said.

It was a major change that nobody could have seen coming. But Annuzzi is thrilled, with how the notes played out.

“I don’t know where I would be,” he said. “I feel like even sometimes, now I feel like I’m in the right spot.”

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