The 4th Street Grille, a favorite downtown Sacramento gathering spot for downtown workers and devotees of stylish after-work cocktails for more than 20 years, is closing its doors after Friday.
Ron Fleming, the local restaurateur and executive chef who co-started the establishment at Fourth and L streets, said a month-to-month lease arrangement was finally called to a halt by the landlord.
Fleming said the building is owned by a group of investors, with a primary representative in the Bay Area.
Fleming said the landlord allowed him to continue operations since last fall, "but eventually, time ran out. We were not considered a good fit, and we couldn't find a buyer, so that's it."
Fleming leased the site for years and said today that two recent deals to sell the restaurant business fell apart. He figures he paid about $2.8 million in rent over 21 years.
The 4th Street Grille employed about 20 people.
Fleming said he believes another restaurant is planning to open at the site, but he had no further details.
On Wednesday, even as items were being moved out of the restaurant, Fleming said "we've had people coming in all day. People are coming in and taking pictures.
"I even had a fourth generation come in to take pictures. They remembered when their dad came here, when it was Harry's. It's been like this all day long, people I haven't seen in years."
The 4th Street Grille opened in 1992, taking over space formerly occupied by Harry's Bar & Grill. Fleming quickly drew attention as the executive chef.
Back in January, news of efforts to sell the restaurant started making the rounds.
At the time, David Herrera, vice president of brokerage services with Colliers International in Sacramento, said building managers "would welcome a new owner of the restaurant whose intent it would be to operate the existing concept, but are equally as excited about the possibility of an operator taking over the space that would bring a new restaurant concept to the area."
Fleming said he's optimistic about the future of the 4th Street Grille site, especially with the promise of a new arena home for the Sacramento Kings up the road.
"I'd stay open if I could, but without the lease, that's it," he said. "If I knew years ago what I know now, I would have tried to buy (the building)."
He said he's still going to pursue other opportunities.
"I want to get another place real soon," he said. "There are a couple concepts I've been working on. I think they'd be perfect for myself and Sacramento."
Fleming said he wants to have a closing celebration at 4th Street Grille on Friday, with discounted drinks: "I want to have a final toast to everybody who came by."
Fleming suggested that people who want to join such a celebration drop by on Friday or call (916) 448-2847 for updates.
Fleming has an extensive background as a chef. Before coming to 4th Street Grille, his work included a stint with the Hyatt hotel chain in Hawaii. Fleming also is a former co-owner of Chops steakhouse at 11th and L streets in Sacramento.
Call The Bee's Mark Glover, (916) 321-1184.