Cathie Anderson

Cathie Anderson: Sacramento Magazine settling into new digs, looking to expand readership

Published: Tuesday, Jul. 30, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Tuesday, Jul. 30, 2013 - 9:24 am

The staff of Sacramento Magazine is settling into new North Sacramento digs this week at 231 Lathrop Way, not far from the hotel formerly known as the Radisson.

Although the move from east Sacramento lengthens the commute for owner and co-publisher Mike O'Brien, it cuts his magazine's rent in half. He and co-publisher Joe Chiodo continue to restructure costs while also drilling down on ways to expand readership.

"I would say it's been a continued refinement and refocusing on Eat & Drink and Go & Do and then putting some deeper stories in the mix," O'Brien told me. "We had to let some columns and things go. ... We were doing some other magazines, a South Placer section, but … it wasn't creating the revenue that we needed. We were doing a senior section.

"I had five people in my custom publishing division, and we did the annual directories for the Sac Metro Chamber, the Folsom chamber, the West Sac chamber, the Elk Grove chamber, the Roseville chamber, plus SACTO's stuff, but that all evolved digitally. So that went away in the last six years."

Sacramento Magazine's readers want guidance online and in print on how to enjoy a premier lifestyle right here at home, O'Brien said, and while his staff can provide ideas, they engage readers online in finding dining, drinks, entertainment, travel and other adventures worth sharing.

O'Brien bought Sacramento Magazine back in 1993 amid a downturn, so it's not like he has never weathered a slump.

"Our quality over time will win out," he said. "We've seen really good (online) growth since last fall. We've gone from about 60,000 unique visitors. We're up at around 83,000 now. We went from 160,000 page views to over 360,000, so we're excited about that. My daughter (Laura) ... has built our social media followers up over 16,000."

From Rocklin, with love

The recession delayed a long-desired expansion for Erol and Tugce Hazar, owners of the Anatolian Table in Rocklin, but they now have opened a second Turkish restaurant at 23rd and K streets in midtown Sacramento.

"I did three years of market research from 2004 to the end of 2006," said Erol Hazar, "and we signed the lease and finished construction, and then the recession started. It was hard for us to get the people in, but once they came, they loved the food. We just had to get them in once.

"Business has grown 10 to 15 percent every year since 2010. The second location is doing much, much better than we did when we first opened here."

He said he knew he would have ready customers because 30 to 40 percent of diners have told him they come from Sacramento. He plans to open patio seating in August.

Hazar seasons the lamb and chicken. Although his doner kebap looks like a Greek gyro, he said, his spice blend is much better. His wife and partner, Tugce Hazar, makes the appetizers and other dishes.

If this new store goes as planned, he said, he hopes to open another in 2014.

Up close in Placerville

Winemaker Debbie Knutzon gained a new perspective on historic downtown Placerville after she and her partners opened a tasting room for their Synapse Wines there in April 2010.

"We thought long and hard about where to place the tasting room, and we picked Main Street because the property was available, and it was really cute," she said.

"I had never really been to Placerville that much. I live down in Granite Bay, and so I'd been to the winery but never in downtown Placerville because I was always busy at the winery."

Until the tasting room opened at 304 Main St., Synapse had done sales online or at events. In 2011, sales grew by 66 percent and in 2012, 27 percent.

The tasting room is under the same roof as the Cary House Hotel, and Knutzon said she had no idea what a fabulous draw it would be.

"The people that stay there, they come from all over the world to stay in that hotel. ... You never know who's going to walk in," she said.

Mitch Foster, the special events coordinator at Synapse's tasting room, told me that he's served customers from China, Thailand, Venezuela, India, Chile, Germany and Spain.

Call The Bee's Cathie Anderson, (916) 321-1193. Back columns, www.sacbee.com/anderson. Follow her on Twitter @cathiea_sacbee.

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