Nosh Pit: Federalist’s funding approach as unique as its shipping-container construction
08/03/2014 12:00 AM
10/07/2014 7:35 PM
Last week, Marvin Maldonado was surveying the construction zone that soon will become Federalist Public House. He initially had announced a late-spring opening, which was pushed to Aug. 1. But judging by the piles of building materials that cram the space, Maldonado says mid-August is a more likely opening.
Federalist Public House is utilizing seven cargo containers to form the edifice of this beer garden and pizza spot near 20th and N streets. The modular green roofing, which uses plant life as a form of temperature control and water management, has yet to be installed. Until then, the space feels like a sweatbox on this triple-digit day.
While much of the press and publicity has focused on its use of shipping containers, an increasingly popular design element that’s also used at K Street’s Der Biergarten, Federalist will also feature some novel approaches to Sacramento dining and drinking.
For starters, certain folks will be able to cool off with 25-cent beers, the bulk sourced from local breweries. It’s a perk for members of the Federalist Public House Founder’s Club, which costs $250 to join, and includes discounts on merchandise, VIP entry to pre-opening events and more. Members can also drink their suds in swanky mugs that are reserved for Founders Club members.
The fine print: Those beers for a quarter are good for the first 50 beers. The price is about the lowest Federalist can go without ruffling the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, which has strict rules against watering holes offering free alcohol.
But it’s a unique approach to raising money in this age of crowd-funding through Kickstarter and other online platforms, as utilized by such burgeoning local businesses as Preservation & Co. and Oak Park Brewery.
“It’s our answer to a Kickstarter,” said Maldonado, as construction whirred behind him. “Most crowdsourcing entities have you buy in, and you get some kind of cheesy reward for your $300. We wanted people to have a tangible incentive for getting us open.”
Federalist Public House will also incorporate Leapset, an app and restaurant operation system from Sysco, to manage ordering and customer flow. Among the features: Once an order is placed at the counter, customers will receive a code that enables them to place additional food and drink orders without having to leave their seats.
Maldonado, who oversees Federalist with his wife of eight years, Bridgette, hopes their progressive approaches will resonate with local diners and drinkers. Federalist marks Maldonado’s second foray into the local restaurant world. A designer by trade, he was also among the original managing partnership behind West Sacramento’s Broderick Roadhouse. Bridgette Maldonado owns and operates Gypsy Mobile Boutique, which takes a food-truck approach to a women’s clothing store.
“Bridgette and I are creative people, and that has to be translated to whatever we do,” said Marvin Maldonado. “From a tech standpoint, the technology is there and we want to use it to improve our guest experiences.”
While some industry workers describe their restaurant as being a second home, Federalist is actually incorporated into the Maldonados’ living space. The upcoming beer garden takes the space of their former backyard. Their original intention was to use the ground floor of their home, which formerly served as a hair salon, as part of the pub.
With two young boys and a baby due in February, there won’t be much separation between work and family life.
“I love that aspect,” said Maldonado. “When I worked in Southern California, I used to commute 98 miles each way. Now, my commute is up and down the stairs. I want to be able to take 15 minutes to tuck in my kids at night.”
But first, the main features of the project need to be installed, including a bocce court and wood-fired pizza oven. The food program will be overseen by Shannon McElroy, who local pizza aficionados will recognize from Masullo Pizza on Riverside Boulevard. Given that Federalist won’t use a commercial range and hood, the oven will be the heart of its cooking operations. Pizzas, small plates and salads with a Mediterranean flair will be the focus.
Maldonado expects the remainder of the restaurant and building equipment to arrive in about a week. Soon after that, he hopes to open the doors of his shipping-container-turned-restaurant-and-pub.
“I’m optimistic and excited,” said Maldonado. “I have big faith about a lot of things, and that helps me get through times like this.”
About This BlogChris Macias has served as The Sacramento Bee's food and 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 farmworkers in Lodi. Chris judges regularly at food, wine and cocktail competitions around Northern California. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 916-321-1253. Twitter: @chris_macias.
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