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Tuli Bistro shuts down suddenly, chef/owner hopes to re-open with new partners

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014 - 4:19 pm

The local restaurant gossip mill went into overdrive this weekend about the impending closure of Tuli Bistro, the popular midtown eatery co-owned by chef Adam Pechal. Those rumors were correct, as Tuli Bistro served its final meals on Monday night.

The closure of Tuli Bistro marks a tumultuous beginning to 2014 for Pechal. Restaurant Thir13en, a downtown fine dining restaurant which also featured Pechal as executive chef and co-owner, shut down in late January after a two year run. Pechal said the money problems from Restaurant Thir13en bled into Tuli Bistro, which opened at 21st and S streets in 2007.

According to Pechal, Tuli Bistro remained popular and recorded $1 million in sales annually. But overall financial woes led Pechal and his business partners, Karl Petersen and wife Ulrike Lesk Petersen, to ultimately separate. Petersen is the father of Pechal’s former girlfriend, Jessica Petersen.

Pechal is now bent on reopening Tuli under his control and with a new set of partners, an idea Pechal had been mulling for some time.

“I learned a lot through all these processes,” said Pechal. “Tuli sales had always been good, especially for that tiny space. But we spent a lot of money opening that place, maybe too much. (Restaurant Thir13en) took its toll and we probably took it further than we should have. It put us in not the best financial shape.”

Tuli’s staff was told on Saturday that the restaurant would be shutting down following Monday night’s dinner service. He’s hoping to place some of his Tuli employees at Crawdad’s River Cantina, the popular watering hole and eatery next to the Sacramento River now owned by Pechal and Trevor Shults of BarWest. This ownership team plans to unveil this latest version of Crawdad’s River Cantina by March 1.

Pechal is also joining Shults in another venture. Pechal will also be taking over the food program at Pour House, the midtown bar also owned by Shults, by early March.

Pechal said he’s meanwhile trying to line up new investors so he can re-open Tuli Bistro. He’s meeting later this week with Roger Henley, an associate of Petersen’s who owns Tuli Bistro’s space, to check the possibilities of reclaiming the space.

“It was time for a change,” said Pechal. “Ownerships are hard. It’s nobody’s fault and we all hoped it would work out. The hardest thing was letting the employees go. They really cared about the place. If I have to beg, borrow or steal to get Tuli reopened for them and the regulars, that’s what I’ll do. Tuli was my baby and I love that place.”

Read more articles by Chris Macias

About Appetizers

Chris Macias has served as The Sacramento Bee's Food & Wine writer since 2008. His writing adventures have ranged from the kitchen at French Laundry to helping pick 10 tons of zinfandel grapes with migrant farm workers in Lodi. Chris also judges regularly at food, wine and cocktail competitions around Northern California. His profile of a former gangbanger-turned-pastry-chef was included in Da Capo's "Best Food Writing 2012."

Read his Wine Buzz columns here
(916) 321-1253
Twitter: @chris_macias

Allen Pierleoni writes about casual lunchtime restaurants in The Sacramento Bee's weekly "Counter Culture" column. He covers a broad range of topics, including food, travel, books and authors. In addition to writing the weekly column "Between the Lines," he oversees the Sacramento Bee Book Club, in which well-known authors give free presentations to the public.

Read his Counter Culture reviews here
(916) 321-1128
Twitter: @apierleonisacbe

Blair Anthony Robertson is The Sacramento Bee's food critic.

Read his restaurant reviews here
(916) 321-1099
Twitter: @Blarob

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