After a series of ownership changes and closures over the past 10 years, the troubled Sloughhouse Inn restaurant in rural eastern Sacramento County is poised to make another run.
This time, however, the new operators say they will bring ample expertise, funding and a reputation that could attract diners from Sacramento and its suburbs.
Ron and Terri Gilliland, who own the well-regarded Lucca and Roxy restaurants in Sacramento and Lucky Dog Ranch in Dixon, have signed a five-year lease on the property, according to their company’s operations manager, Dominic Sirianni.
He and current Roxy executive chef Danny Origel “will be involved in the day-to-day” once the new venture is up and running, which could be as soon as early November, Sirianni said.
“We’re already booking holiday parties, and we’ll do special events (such as) weddings and business meetings,” he said. “The plan is to open it as a dinner house Wednesday through Sunday, with breakfast on weekends.”
The inn will be renamed Meadowlands because “the Sloughhouse Inn name has kind of a bad connotation, and we don’t want people to associate it with what it was,” Sirianni said. The new name is “a reference to the farmers and ranchers that we are, and everything we source and raise comes from meadows” in one form or another, he said.
The Gillilands and Sirianni had been planning to open a third restaurant for some time, “but not in that direction,” Sirianni said. When the inn closed in July, “we went out to look at it and fell in love. It’s a beautiful property with a lot of history and isn’t as far (from Sacramento) as people may think. Terri is going to freshen it up, but we’re not doing any major construction. We want to maintain its historical integrity.”
The Sloughhouse area is about 20 miles east of Sacramento in farming and ranching country. The two-story inn was built in 1850 as a stagecoach stop and lodging for prospectors on their way to the Amador County gold mines. It burned down in 1890 and was rebuilt the same year. It’s a registered historic landmark.
In the 1990s, the Sloughhouse Inn was a destination for loyal patrons from Elk Grove, Wilton, Rancho Murieta and other local communities. Farmers, ranchers and cowgirls in polished boots and spurs gathered to dine on steak, prime rib, pork chops and tri-tip, bellying up to the expansive bar as tunes by Hank Williams and Patsy Cline filled the background. Plenty of old wood, faded brick and homey knickknacks gave the dining rooms a historic roadhouse vibe, charged with energy from the regulars.
Gradually, inattentive management and a steady decline in the quality of the food led to its closure in 2006, and it sat empty and neglected for seven years. Despite its reopening twice under different sets of operators since then, locals have been eager for a quality restaurant to establish itself as a new dining destination, an option to the high-end Taste restaurant in Plymouth.
“We think there’s a ton of potential out there,” Sirianni said. “(For instance) it’s at the gateway to Amador County wine country, which is what Napa was 30 years ago.”
The menu will be unique and not an echo of the bills of fare at Lucca and Roxy, Sirianni said, though “we do have a couple of staples at each (restaurant) that may cross over. We’ve already done a couple of tastings and we’re getting close, but the menu has not been finalized.”
The emphasis will be on sourcing food locally, with beef and produce from Lucky Dog Ranch and its new garden, as well as produce from neighboring Davis Ranch, well-known for selling Sloughhouse corn, which is in season now.
“We want to do this right and make it what it used to be (in the 1990s) and hopefully more,” Sirianni said.
The property is at 12700 Meiss Road, aka Old Jackson Road, in Sloughhouse, just off Highway 16.