The co-owners of Broderick Roadhouse, the popular eatery in West Sacramento, are taking over operations at a pair of midtown restaurants that have had some culinary and financial stumbles in recent months.
Chris Jarosz, co-owner of Broderick and the popular food truck Wicked ’Wich, said he and his team will assume control of Capital Dime, a high-profile restaurant located at 1801 L St., and Trick Pony, a fledgling pizzeria at 2031 S St.
The new arrangement makes Jarosz, already a rising star and a strong voice for farm-to-fork dining, a high-profile player in the Sacramento culinary scene. It’s also an indicator of continuing consolidation and shakeout among local restaurants, several of which have folded or undergone ownership changes in the last year.
Capital Dime, which opened last summer to plenty of fanfare and early acclaim, launched with the concept of providing quality farm-to-fork fare for $10 a plate. The head of its food program, Noah Zonca, was the former chef at well-regarded The Kitchen Restaurant, and he gave both the restaurant and the concept instant credibility.
But Zonca struggled to make it work, and he eventually raised prices, adding dishes that cost close to $30. In February, he left abruptly, signing a nondisclosure agreement that raised questions about the nature of his departure.
Jarosz said he has been keeping an eye on the ups and downs at Capital Dime, which received a one-star rating in April from The Bee in a largely negative review.
“I heard they were having some trouble,” Jarosz said Monday. “It started out barnstorming for a couple of months and then they had a concept that didn’t really work and they started running it into the ground. I think they wound up spinning in circles and they didn’t know what to do.”
Jarosz said he fell into the orbit of Capital Dime and Trick Pony owners Rick Lobley and Melissa Sanchez after seeing them having a drink at Broderick’s bar. Sanchez left Jarosz a voice mail and they eventually began talking and hammering out details.
According to Jarosz, Lobley and Sanchez will step into the background and turn over the operation of Capital Dime and Trick Pony to Jarosz and the Broderick team. Jarosz said the current staffs at both locations will be given a chance to prove themselves, but he will make major staffing moves if necessary.
The Broderick owners now own a large, but undisclosed, stake in both eateries, which will undergo significant changes, Jarosz said.
Capital Dime will return to its original vision and become an “American-style tapas restaurant,” with many items sold a la carte at $10 – the “dime” price point initially trumpeted by Zonca. The restaurant, which had cut its hours and eliminated lunch service, will be closed for a few days for cleanup and minor remodeling. It is set to reopen next week for dinner only, and the following week for lunch and dinner seven days a week. The restaurant will also continue its weekend brunch.
Trick Pony occupies the site of the former Tuli Bistro, which abruptly closed in February after Adam Pechal, Tuli’s co-owner and executive chef, said he and his business partners ran into financial difficulties running Tuli and the upscale Restaurant Thir13en. The latter shut its doors in January.
Trick Pony, which opened only a few weeks ago, will see its pizzas, and especially its all-important dough formula, overhauled under Jarosz, but will remain open during the process.
Lobley, as many foodies know, created a stir in late April when he described his Trick Pony intentions: “I’m tired of driving two hours to get a really good pizza. We’re going to go back to the way they made pizza 1,000 years ago.”
Food bloggers, among others, were quick to point out that Sacramento has plenty of quality pizza, including Masullo, OneSpeed and Hot Italian.
Jarosz chose his words carefully when asked about the new pizza he plans to offer at Trick Pony, which inherits a wood-burning oven from the former Tuli Bistro.
“I want to make sure I don’t stick my foot in my mouth here, but I hope to be bringing a really good pizza, if not the best pizza in Sac,” he said. “There is a lot of good pizza here, but there are a lot of interpretations about what good pizza is, and I want to bring my interpretation to what that is.”
He said the pizza will likely resemble a New York- and Italian-style pie, meaning a thin, chewy crust that may or may not be crispy.
Jarosz conceded that keeping Trick Pony open while tweaking the dough and toppings is a risk. “That’s probably not the best way to operate,” he said. “But next week when people come in, even if the dough isn’t perfect yet, the flavor profiles will be there and there will be some really cool pizza.”
Although he had the option to change the names of both eateries, Jarosz said he opted instead to try to change the way they are perceived.
“The challenge now is to take the names that have been beat up and see if we can come back out of the hole.”