Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Rundown of the Downtown Restaurant Scene

There has been a lot of talk regarding the for coming of potential chain restaurants into our downtown and midtown. When it comes to chains, I for one, personal prefer to eat at local independent restaurants. Shopping though, give me the big national chains. Send the Saks, BR and Macy's my way. Boutiques are just too $$$ for the same thing. I'm weird that way, but I think a lot of people are the same.

Sacramento in general has ever chain imaginable. Downtown has yet to be really penetrated by it, but that will soon change with eminent opening of some.

In one sense, the fact that these corporations want to open downtown is a sign that the general downtown economy is getting better, but I still do not want to see them on every corner.

So what I decide to do is get a rundown of everything (at least that I can think of) that has opened over the last few years in downtown and midtown to really see if we are being invaded by the chains as a lot of people are suggesting.

The fist thing to do is define a chain. Different people view a chain differently. I think we can all agree that places like PF Changs, Morton's, and Starbucks are chains. Where you run into a difference of opinion is the small local chains that are non "corporate" with 100 places across the US, like a Mikuni's, that have 3 or 4 locations. I don't lump Mikuni's in the chain bucket since it is something unique to Sacramento.

Pyramid Brewery has 5 locations, Sacramento, Seattle, Berkeley. Portland and Walnut Creek, the same as Mikuni's, but they are def a chain.

One Saturday morning when Cafe Flood was shocking closed at 8:30, I really didn't want to go to Starbucks, so I decided to go to Naked Lounge. There was another person there as well and he commented how he didn't want to go to Naked since it was a chain! It took me a second to realize he meant that they have one in Chico as well, but come on now! I'm sorry, Naked is not a chain.

What about 58 Degrees opening where Slater and Marinof used to be at 18th and Cap? One other location in AZ? Chain or Non-Chain?

What about Crepeville? Has a small independent feel, but there are 4 or 5 other locations.

What about the Paragary Group?

So as you can see, there is room for disagreement here.

I hope we never see it happen, and it's never too early to make sure it doesn't happen. I know there will be people that will shit a brick at the sight of even one chain restaurant, but I think for right now I don't think it's quite as bad as it may appear.

I do think we are seeing an awful lot of upscale places open and I would like to see a few more casual and "hole in the wall" type places.

Outside of downtown and midtown, yes, Chains-R-Us, but in DT and MT, while there does seem to be some chains that will pop up in the future, the non-chains seem to be outpacing them by quite a margin.

I tend to eat primarily at non-chains, so if I missed one, point it out

Current Resturants
Non-Chain: (31)
Mason's, Ma Jongs, Lucca, 55 Degrees, Chops, Mulvaney’s Building and Loan, Il Posto, Icon, Kru, Tamaya, Hangar 17, Kasbah, Osteria, Joey B's, Plum Blossom, Zukko, Brew It Up, Sofia, Spataro, Zocolo, Dragonfly, Tortugas, Bistro 33, Mikuni's, Capitol Garage, Harry's Cafe, Sandra Dee's, Butch and Nellies, Black Pearl, Sky Bar, Zen Toro

EDIT: Espresso Bar: 12th and K
My friends who owns the Espresso Bar nearly killed me for leaving them off this list!!!

Sorry Guys!!!!!!

Chain: (10)
Crepeville, Gaylords, Pyramid Brewery, Wolfgang Puck Express, Melting Pot, 58 Degrees, PF Changs , Chipotle, Beach Hut Deli, Starbucks (I don't know exactly where, but I'm sure one has)

From what we can see, the non-chains clearly have it in this part. Plus, there are only a couple of the true 100 restuarants corporate on the list

-Ella's: 12th and K
-Pronto: 16th and O
-Stone Grille: 21st and L
-Cafe by owners of Cornerstone: 21st and L
-Captiol Grille: 15th and L
-Independant Wine Bar: 18th and L
-Grand Wines: 16th and L
-Independant Convenience Store : 18th and L
-Rick's Dessert: 9th and J, 800 J Lofts (Rumor)
-Independant Mexican Restuarant: 9th and J, 800 J Lofts (Rumor)
-Sukra Sushi and Teppanyaki:9th and J, US Bank Building (not sure about this one though)

- Buckhorn's: 18th and L (done deal)
- Roy's: 16th and L (rumor)
- CPK: 16th and L (rumor)
- Samurai Sam's: 14th and O (done deal)
- McCormick & Schmick: 11th and J (done deal)
- Firewood Cafe: 700 Block K Street (rumor)

We def see a higher concentration on this list, but with so many projects out there that have not signed retail yet, the list could tilt toward the non-chains, or further toward the chains. Time will tell.


TowerDistrict said...

what i think solves the chain/non chain argument, is if you would categorize them as franchised or independent owned.

that would knock even more off your chain list. which is great to see in my opinion. i'm very adament about supporting locally owned business. that is possibly the number one reason i live downtown.

i think the chains that we are seeing moving in downtown, are a necessary evil. they will occupy large spaces that anchor further development. after some of these big guys set up shop, i think we'll see even more non-franchised business piggy-back their success. I hope...

One area of concern in this would be the Crystal Ice plant, and the possibility of a Whole Foods or Trader Joes. I'm dying to see more boutique butchers, bakers and even candle stick makers, but i'm worried that a shop like TJs or WF would squash even the existing shops - even as far reaching as Taylors, which is only about 12 blocks away.

LivingInUrbanSac said...

I think Taylors has it's own niche in Land and Curtis Park and would be safe, just like Corti Borthers in East Sac.

I'm with you though. Idealy, I would love to see a independent butcher, cheese shop, and Itialin Market go there. In the end though, I would okay with a Trader Joe's

Dan said...

I've been a lurker on your blog for a while. Thanks for the rundown on restuarants.
Some other non-chain downtown eateries:
Riccis, Morelias, Rincon, Buds, Mother India, Broiler, Cafe Dolce, Taiko, Bread Store, Ambrosia Cafe, Crest Cafe, Isabelas, Harlows, Pieces, Zeldas, Hot Rods... there are probably at least 20-30 more. Of course there are more chains too:
Il Fornaio, Fats, about 8 subway locations, big kahuna, La Beau, 2x Quiznos, Pete's, Peets...
I guess the other question what counts as a Restuarant anyway? Does it have to be open for dinner? There are numerous other independant delis and chinese, mexican, and thai places downtown. Don't forget Senor Burito!

LivingInUrbanSac said...

Thanks for dropping in, Dan

I was looking more at new places that have opened, but your point is well taken, there are a lot more out there that can be on the list.

It's so hard to keep up with everything that is opening since there are so many that are...I haven't even heard of some of them! said...

How do I find the management of the Buckhorn resturant?????

LivingInUrbanSac said...

No idea...

you can maybe try