Landmark Sacramento restaurant closes

01/15/2014 5:30 PM

06/10/2014 10:51 AM

Sacramento lost one of its signature restaurants Wednesday – and a struggling business district lost one of its anchor tenants.

Enotria Restaurant Wine Bar closed after a 17-year run on Del Paso Boulevard, leaving a big hole on the main commercial thoroughfare that runs through North Sacramento. The tony restaurant, known for its extensive wine list and guest-chef dinners, completed a $1.5 million remodel in 2011 and was expected to be one of the centerpieces of a Del Paso renaissance that city officials have been planning for years.

“It’s definitely a blow,” said City Councilman Allen Warren, whose district includes the Del Paso area. “We had hoped that Enotria would be one of the foundations of what we’re trying to do.”

Enotria owner David Hardie said he closed because of the problems he encountered running the restaurant from his Lake Tahoe home. “I live in Nevada, and it’s become increasingly difficult to be an owner from a distance,” he said.

Derrell Roberts, an Enotria customer who operates a nearby nonprofit family development center, said the closure illustrates the ongoing struggles along Del Paso.

“It continues to show the challenges we have in terms of getting quality business establishments to stay in North Sacramento,” Roberts said. “Maybe it’s an opportunity for all of us to sit down and talk about what do we do now.”

City officials have tried for years to revive North Sacramento’s historic business district, which has been plagued by crime, building vacancies and other woes. It has enjoyed some success as a Second Saturday art-gallery destination, and for 12 years it was home to an ultra-high-end furniture store. The store, called LIMN, closed in 2011.

The one constant has been Enotria, widely considered one of the top restaurants in the city. “People would come and dine there (and) see the other good stuff we have to offer,” said Franklin Burris, a commercial real estate agent and board member of the North Sacramento Chamber of Commerce.

In recent months, officials have been talking up a new redevelopment plan centered around a 10-block cluster of city-owned land parcels. Developer and restaurateur Andrea Lepore, who is consulting on the project, has been talking to a brewery, a graphics-design firm, a restaurant and other prospective tenants.

“The closing of Enotria is a loss for the Sacramento region since it was a destinational restaurant,” Lepore said in an email.

Separately, San Francisco developer and designer Dan Friedlander, who owns the shuttered LIMN furniture store and other properties on and around Del Paso Boulevard, has been working on a public market, with vendors selling meat, produce and bread.

He said the venue, known as Arden Garden Market, is scheduled to open in May. “We’re still on track; this won’t change a thing,” he said when asked about Enotria’s closing.

But he said the closure of Enotria is a sign that the city needs to put some funds into the public market to help it succeed. Private investors, including Friedlander, have poured $190,000 into the project, he said.

Community leaders said Enotria’s closing won’t mean the end of the crusade to turn around Del Paso.

“There are still people making those attempts,” Roberts said.

As for the Enotria building, Hardie said he plans to meet with prospective tenants right away. “I’m transitioning into being a landlord,” said Hardie, who owns the building.

Shane Curry, chairman of the Del Paso Boulevard Partnership, said at least two restaurant operators in Sacramento are interested in the Enotria location and others in the vicinity.

“Obviously, it’s a disappointment and a frustration,” he said, referring to the shutdown. “But I’m optimistic because other restaurateurs have been looking at other properties on the boulevard.”

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