New Shoki Ramen House aims for mid-April opening

Sacramento Bee Staff Photo

Shoki Ramen House, whose original location on 24th Street in Curtis Park easily could have added the word “ramshackle” to its name, is poised to move into a bigger, livelier location in the old Trails Restaurant on 21st Street near Broadway.

“We’re shooting for the second week in April (to open),” said Kathy Ueyama, wife of owner/chef Yasushi Ueyama, who speaks limited English.

While awaiting the transfer of its beer and wine license from the 24th Street location, which closed Dec. 30, the Ueyama family has been busy preparing the Trails building, which retains plenty of local restaurant lore even though the restaurant had fallen on hard times in recent years.

Since purchasing the Trails building in late December, Yasushi had planned to keep as much of the Trails decor as possible as an homage to Sacramento’s restaurant history.

With a Western theme and a menu of hearty, all-American food, Trails opened in 1952 and was owned by the movie and swimming legend Esther Williams and her husband Ben Gage. Featuring $3 steak dinners, there were lines out the door and Trails became an important player in the local restaurant scene. Trails’ third owner, Gin Wong, bought the business in 1979, and after more than a 30-year run, put it up for sale in 2014.

Kathy Ueyama said that as workers began scouring Trails and tidying it for reopening as Shoki Ramen House, they learned that the cowboy wallpaper, among other things, was not original. They have decided to remove the wallpaper and paint the walls.

Shoki will be a radical departure from Trails, but the eye-catching neon sign on 21st Street will remain, possibly with a smaller “Shoki” sign placed beneath it. The new owners will not paint the outside for now. Much of the focus is on “rubbing and scrubbing,” with minor tweaks to the kitchen and only small changes to the eating area, according to Kathy Ueyama.

While the 24th Street Shoki had seven tables, held a maximum of 20 customers and was known for its sign-up sheet and long waits to be seated, the new location will seat up to 45 people. There’s also a Shoki location on R Street, which continues to be busy and might soon begin serving food on the patio, where seating already exists but has been used mostly by people waiting to dine inside.

“We were supposed to do that last summer, but we are going to revisit that,” Kathy Ueyama said about serving food outdoors. “The issue was, how can we be safe bringing out ramen with people coming in and out of the restaurant?”

The R Street Shoki is adding Ruhstaller beer on draft and is planning to include other local craft beer offerings soon. The same will happen at the Trails location.

Stay tuned for more details as Shoki nears its opening on 21st Street.

Call The Bee’s Blair Anthony Robertson, (916) 321-1099. Follow him on Twitter @Blarob.