New downtown nightclub Vanguard looks to serve Sacramento's grown-and-sexy crowd

06/11/2013 12:00 AM

06/13/2013 2:13 PM

Low-calorie "skinny" margaritas and pre-Prohibition-era cocktails can be comfortably consumed on 22-foot-long leather couches while DJs play remixed '90s songs through the high-end sound system.

It's all part of an experience designed to entice the 30-and-up set to Vanguard, a new lounge and nightspot near 14th and L streets that celebrates its grand opening at 10 p.m. Friday.

Vanguard completes the overhaul of the former Spataro Restaurant & Bar, which has been split into Hock Farm Craft & Provisions restaurant and the adjacent Vanguard. While Hock Farm focuses on artisanal foods in a contemporary space, Vanguard toasts the swanky and sophisticated in an intimate setting.

Now, all that's needed are Sacramento's grown and sexy to get this party started. The latest local nightspot to cater toward an older crowd, Vanguard hopes to draw that demographic and its disposable income for a fun night on the town, with the babysitter on speed-dial.

While nightclubbing tends to be a young person's game, Vanguard seeks to be a spot where moms, dads and singles who were born before 1982 can gather in a cool yet civilized setting and converse – instead of dodging a bunch of fist-pump-dancing bros straight out of a scene from "Jersey Shore."

"Other nightclubs are more loud and everyone's jumping around," said Trevor Shults, Vanguard's owner. "We want this to be a place to bring your wife and have a drink. People can sit down and talk. When you hit the age of 30, that's what some people want to do more when they're going out with their girlfriends."

Shults, 33, is of the same age group he hopes to attract at Vanguard. Married with two children, he knows the challenge of finding a fun space for an after-dinner drink that doesn't feel like a meat market.

Shults also oversees nightspots intended for younger age groups. He's the owner of Pour House, a midtown bar and grill on Q Street with a lengthy whiskey program, and J Street's BarWest, which serves gigantic fruity cocktails in fishbowls.

Both of those spots were designed with 20-somethings in mind. Shults is also a partner in Social Nightclub on the K Street mall, another place to break in that just-turned-21 ID.

"(Vanguard) is for those who want a little nightlife but don't want a nightclub," Shults said. "That's people ages 30 to 40. Sometimes I'm out with my wife and friends, it's 10 p.m. and we're thinking, 'what do we do next?' We can never find that perfect spot."

Shults has seen the success of Mix Downtown, about two blocks down L Street from Vanguard. Opened in late 2009, Mix has become the de facto dance club for 30-somethings and beyond to wave their hands in the air while the DJ spins old-school jams such as Salt-N-Pepa's "Push It." The $15-to-$20 weekend cover charge is waived if you're 40 or older and arrive before 10:30 p.m.

In addition, Reunion in El Dorado Hills aims for an older crowd that might not otherwise want to trek downtown for dancing. Cigars, speed dating for ages 37 to 52 and complimentary midweek buffet stations are among the fixtures.

These places are poised to serve a growing demographic. Sacramento expects to see an increase of 30- and 40-somethings in coming years, according to Buxton consumer analytics software, which predicted that the city's 35-to-44-year-old segment would grow by 5.6 percent between 2012 and 2017.

Vanguard's proximity to the Capitol makes it an easy fit for upwardly mobile careerists. Downtown and midtown have seen an overall boom in eateries and watering holes that keep folks in the central city after work or draw them back on weekends.

"Now, it's not just a place to work, but an evening and nightlife destination," said Michael Ault, executive director of the Downtown Sacramento Partnership, an advocacy group for the central business district. "It's matured simply beyond bars and hangouts. (Adults) want a complete experience with nighttime venues that offer good food and good drinks."

They also want to relax – not so much party to the point of hangover. That's where the comfy couches and chairs come in at Vanguard. The 3,200-square-foot space is filled with plenty of places to kick back, whether in leather wingback chairs or on custom-built 22-foot leather couches that line some of the walls.

"Hey, when you turn 30 you want someplace to sit – and we have plenty of it," Shults said.

Folks who want to break in some new dancing shoes will likely need to look elsewhere. A small space near Vanguard's bar could turn into a makeshift dance floor for those who must get into the groove, but kicking back with a libation is the emphasis here.

The cocktail program includes "his" and "hers" lists plus happy hour drink specials with $5 glasses of wine and $6 cocktails. A menu of small bites will be created by Hock Farm.

The interior was also created with the discerning adult in mind. With its handsome bookshelves and leather furniture, Vanguard feels more like a private study than a strobe-lighted discotheque.

"The space is very chic, and we put a lot of time and energy into it," Shults said. "I can see this being a great spot to come after work. I think you'll see a lot of people from the Capitol and a lot of people from the ages of 30-plus hanging out and having a great cocktail. There's a lot of places to hang out, but I think this is filling a void."


Sacramento's newest nightspot celebrates its grand opening with a grown-up, sophisticated touch. Dress to impress.

When: 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday

Where: 1415 L St., Sacramento

Cost: Free


Note: Following grand opening weekend, cover charge will range from $10 to $15 after 11 p.m. on weekends.

Slideshow: Vanguard Bar and Lounge

Call The Bee's Chris Macias (916) 321-1253. Follow him on Twitter @chris_macias.

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