Restaurateur known for his Bay Area successes to open second Oak Park eatery

Tom Schnetz
Tom Schnetz The Sacramento Bee

Last May, when he opened La Venadita, a casual but ambitious taqueria and bar in Oak Park, owner Tom Schnetz hinted he had a second concept in mind – he just had to find the right building.

Schentz, who was born and raised in Sacramento but is best known for his Oakland restaurants Doña Tomas and Xolo, is working to open Oakhaus, a German-themed restaurant featuring a California-meets-Bavaria menu and an array of beer. There will be 2,500 square feet inside and a patio with another 2,000 square feet. The restaurant, a block away from La Venadita, is slated to open in the spring.

“It’s going to be my take on that style of food, what I really like to eat,” said Schnetz, whose ancestry is a mix of Mexican and German. “It’s not going to be a straight-up German hofbrau where you can barely pronounce what you are ordering.”

When asked for an example of a dish that might find its way onto the menu, Schnetz cited a sandwich with something of an Italian accent – roasted chicken with prosciutto and a lemon sage aioli. Indeed, part of the inspiration for the new concept is Marshall Grounds, a popular midtown lunch spot Schnetz owned from 1991 to 2000.

Noting the dearth of German food in and around Sacramento, Schnetz said he has fond boyhood memories of his grandmother’s cooking, including a hearty spaetzle (German dumplings).

“Maybe there just never was very much in Sacramento. It’s certainly hard to find that stuff, but it is so good,” he said.

A large aspect of Oakhaus will be the beer garden patio, Schnetz added.

“We obviously will have German beer, but we also want to have a lot of local breweries that are doing German styles,” he said.

Construction on the interior space is underway. The restaurant will be in the Broadway Triangle, a mixed-used residential and work development designed by Sacramento architect Ron Vrilakis and considered a focal point of once-ailing Oak Park’s resurgence. Though his preference is for reviving old buildings that come with numerous architectural details, Schnetz said the new building where he will open Oakhaus already has plenty of visual appeal.

While he was guarded about how the finished restaurant will look inside, Schnetz said to expect a casual concept where customers order at the counter or find a seat at the bar, much the way they do at La Venadita.

Blair Anthony Robertson: 916-321-1099, @Blarob

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