Hamburger Patties in midtown Sacramento will close doors this weekend

Published: Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013 - 12:00 am
Last Modified: Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013 - 9:26 am

David Mansch, co-owner of Hamburger Patties in midtown Sacramento, remembers opening the restaurant on Labor Day weekend 1994: “Some people said we wouldn’t last six months.”

They were off by 181/2 years.

The purveyor of numerous lavishly presented burgers at 1630 J St. will close its doors for good this Labor Day weekend, an announcement the restaurant posted on its Facebook page late Wednesday afternoon.

The posting prompted a flood of disappointed responses and nostalgic recollections from longtime restaurant patrons who enjoyed the food, soaked up the urban burger palace ambiance and marked special occasions under its roof over the years.

Asked why the restaurant was closing now, Mansch, who operated Hamburger Patties with Richard Boriolo, sighed and said: “Twenty years is enough. It’s just time.”

Mansch cited a litany of stress-inducing factors that added up over time. The restaurant was facing lease expiration, customer traffic is down from the pre-recession heyday and running a restaurant is a perpetual sprint of supplying, employing and maintaining.

Mansch said he looks forward to wedging some relaxing time into his life. He said the recent departure of The Beat music store across the street at 17th and J did not affect the decision to close Hamburger Patties.

Beat owner Rob Fauble closed the store in June – ending a 20-year run at that location – after his landlord did not renew the lease and began seeking a new tenant.

“The Beat came in about the same time we did, so I guess it’s appropriate that we’re both leaving at about the same time,” Mansch said.

Mansch conceded that the opening of other Sacramento restaurants and a shift in lunchtime crowd demographics affected his business over time.

“People used to be lined up on J Street at lunch hour. It was like a parade,” he said.

Mansch said Hamburger Patties employed about 60 at its height. By closing time Sunday night, about 20 will be without jobs.

Beth Hassett, board president of Sacramento’s Midtown Business Association, said she was hopeful that new tenants would soon fill The Beat and Hamburger Patties spots “because that’s a linchpin corner” in midtown. She also noted that midtown has gained new businesses recently, including two eateries, The Rind and Capital Dime.

“It’s a changing time, and I don’t think (The Beat and Hamburger Patties closings) are an indication of anything amiss in midtown. We’re actually having a bit of a boom right now,” Hassett said. “But it’s tragic when people who have been there for so many years are leaving.

“We’re still committed to helping small retail shops and restaurants find a home in midtown.”

Hamburger Patties’ Facebook posting offered thanks and an invitation to celebrate the restaurant throughout the upcoming weekend: “We thank you for two decades of seeing your faces, the laughs, the good and bad singing and being able to serve you. We’ll be open through this weekend if you want to come say goodbye or have a drink to celebrate the many years ‘Mary’ stood on the corner of 17th and J.”

The “Mary” reference was a shout-out to the 2007 name change from Hamburger Mary’s to Hamburger Patties.

Restaurant patrons who weighed in on Thursday were simultaneously sad and wistful.

“Wow, I hate it. A good old-fashioned hamburger joint like this is hard to find. How many are left? Now, everything is burger as usual at the drive-thru window,” said Sacramentan Pete Simpson.

Sacramento resident Walt Boyd said he and some friends would sometimes gather at the restaurant before heading out to watch a Sacramento Kings game: “Great times. Great place to get a really good, filling burger and talk about anything at all in a cool place. I’m going to miss that.”

Mansch said he was gratified by the positive reactions he was getting. “I think that’s the best part, knowing how many lives we affected over the years.”

And he pointed to tens of thousands of dollars raised for various charities with the restaurant’s periodic “Drag Queen Bingo” nights, decidedly adult spectacles featuring bingo games hosted by “drag queens” with provocative names.

Call The Bee's Mark Glover, (916) 321-1184.

Read more articles by Mark Glover

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