Michael Allen Jones / Bee file, 2008

The Waterboy restaurant.

Cathie Anderson: Seasons 52 restaurant coming to Arden Fair

Published: Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Wednesday, Sep. 25, 2013 - 1:38 pm

Darden Restaurants gets a big share of Sacramento's dining dollars with its Olive Garden, Red Lobster and Yard House brands, but that's just not enough.

The company will open a Seasons 52 restaurant on Jan. 28 at the Arden Fair mall in Sacramento.

Rikin Lakhani, director of operations for Seasons 52, said Wednesday that the restaurant will be hiring 100 to 120 employees in the next few weeks, including greeters, servers and kitchen staff. Applicants can get more information under the careers tab at www.seasons52.com.

Lakhani describes the ambience at Seasons 52: "We have a piano that's in the middle of the bar. We have someone come to sing every night. … All private dining rooms are fully equipped with automatic screens and projectors, audiovisuals, separate lighting and temperature controls. We also have a chef's table that typically seats up to eight to 10 people. The chef … can custom-design a menu for those guests."

Waterboy throws lifeline

Restaurateur Rick Mahan is throwing a lifeline to a former comrade, and patrons of The Waterboy in midtown Sacramento are joining him to help pull it.

Mahan wants to aid Steve Linares, who started working at The Waterboy as a line cook in 2000 and five years later rose to be its chef de cuisine. By the time Linares left in 2008, The Waterboy had become a standard bearer for fine dining in the region.

The young chef worked in the fine dining scene in the Big Apple. A few months ago, he landed a spot as executive chef at a restaurant called Fort Defiance in Brooklyn.

Then Hurricane Sandy struck.

"They lost all their food inventory because the kitchen is down low," Mahan said. "… He lost a couple of his employees because they went somewhere else to work while they were closed for a month."

Food, wine, refrigeration units and preparation stations were down in a flooded basement, Linares told me in a phone interview. They were able to pump the water out and get back in business, he said, but losses totaled $150,000. He's had to find solutions for many challenges, including buying ice daily because he could afford only a small refrigerator.

Mahan wanted to help, so a week from today, he'll serve a benefit dinner with exactly the same menu as the one Linares will cook. Proceeds from The Waterboy will go to Fort Defiance.

Mahan wanted a full house, so he emailed everyone on the restaurant's list. Not only is virtually every $48 seat sold, Mahan said, but some patrons sent their regrets and a check.

Making room to grow

The next time you despair over your tiny kitchen, think of pastry chef Ginger Elizabeth Hahn, who whips up macarons, chocolate chip cookies, chocolate bark, bittersweet chocolate bars, Bûche de Noël and other sweet temptations in a 200-square-foot kitchen.

The co-owner of Ginger Elizabeth Chocolates isn't going to be squeezed for too much longer. Hahn told me that she is going to put a commercial kitchen in a warehouse space, something around 3,000 square feet.

"We haven't been able to expand other things, other parts of our business because of the space issue," she said. "… I haven't had an office for five years. I'd like to have an office. It's kind of time. We're still going to make a lot of things here, but we have storage issues."

Sales at Ginger Elizabeth have grown between 30 percent and 50 percent each year, Hahn said, but the numbers would grow even more if she had the capacity to expand the number of retailers selling her line of dessert bars. She also wants to be able to hold cooking classes, something she found quite a demand for a few summers back.

"A large part of the reason we're getting this space is so I can hold classes in the actual commercial kitchen," said the 31-year-old Hahn, whose retail store will remain at 1801 L St.

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