By the time financiers took control of Tower Records in 2002 and showed top leaders the door, Stan Goman had worked at the local institution for 35 years and had risen to chief operating officer. So, what's Goman doing now?
Most days, he's sitting in a cornfield.
Goman opened the Elkhorn Saloon on Saturday in West Sacramento, and the eatery at 18398 Old River Road is almost surrounded by cornstalks. Goman won't say how much he's invested, but he has installed new kitchen equipment and hung vintage posters from The Eagles, Cream, Hank Williams and others on the walls.
"A friend of mine described it as a Georgia roadhouse," Goman said. "Did you ever watch 'True Blood' on HBO? There's a place called Merlotte's in the show. ... It's a place you'd find off a rural road in the South."
Called Road 22, the Interstate 5 exit leading to Elkhorn Saloon has a farm-to-market feel. Yet the roadhouse is just 15 minutes from midtown Sacramento. It's open Tuesdays through Sundays, and entrees range from $9 to $24.
Make the drive, and you'll be greeted not by a Bubba but by a Stan, a Skip or a Rose. Goman has teamed up with Rio Linda's Skip and Rose Kittle. The couple, both in their 60s, have owned and operated three area restaurants: Skittles Bar & Grill, Rosie's Rock & Docks and The Westside Pub and Grill.
Although Goman met the Kittles because he was seeking a partner with restaurant experience, he soon realized that a lot less than six degrees separated them.
"Russ (Solomon) and I ate lunch at The Westside almost every day," Goman said. Solomon, the founder of Tower Records, visits occasionally and snapped a picture of Skip Kittle that now hangs in the bar.
The building they occupy started out as a saloon in 1878, but it's also been a post office, a brothel and a gambling hall. Its last tenant was Elkhorn Station, known for its Friday Night Fish Fry. The Kittles worked there for two years, and the fish fry tradition continues.
Elkhorn Saloon is 64-year-old Goman's second venture since Tower. In 2003, he acquired University Copy & Print on Howe Avenue. He sold it last June, only to discover he was "allergic to retirement."
Are you guys open yet?
The door to Tako Korean BBQ on T Street near Alhambra Boulevard popped open a few times in less than an hour Tuesday first a single customer, then two, then three.
That may not sound like much traffic, but Alex Won and Yoon Hee Cho don't actually open their restaurant until Friday. The eager customers had to wait.
Won, a graduate of the culinary program at George Brown College in Toronto, and the self-taught Cho have collaborated for eight years first at a Lunch Stop franchise and later at a barbecue joint called Yunece 61. The latter received 3.5 stars from The Bee's Allen Pierleoni, but it didn't find a broad customer base.
"You can't get rid of stereotypes," the 32-year-old Won said. "When people came into the restaurant, they'd see Asians serving Southern food. They didn't give us a chance. I'd joke around and say, 'I'm from the South South Korea.' This time, we decided to stick to our roots."
At Tako Korean BBQ, entrees will range from $5 to $8. The restaurant, located in a vintage building that once housed an Atlantic Richfield gas station, will be open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.
Customers will be able to choose pork, two styles of short rib, two styles of chicken, or tofu to fill soft corn tortillas. The galbi (short rib), tenderized by kiwi and apple, bursts with the flavors of ganjang (a soy-based sauce) but also conveys a subtle sweetness. The fire chicken, buldak, brings the heat as promised but leaves a vinegary tang to savor at the finish.