KISS’s Gene Simmons is opening a restaurant in Vacaville and promising ‘a party’

KISS members Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley are partners in Rock & Brews, a casual dining chain that plans to open a restaurant in Vacaville.
KISS members Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley are partners in Rock & Brews, a casual dining chain that plans to open a restaurant in Vacaville. Courtesy Wills Communications, Inc.

Celebrity restaurants tend to flame out in the Sacramento area, as the closures of Sammy Hagar and Guy Fieri restaurants in recent years attest.

Those places did not have a guy who spits fire behind them.

KISS frontman Gene Simmons, a founding partner in casual dining chain Rock & Brews, has announced plans to open a Vacaville location in November. Rock & Brews, which started in 2012 in El Segundo, touts a selection of 50-plus beers on tap, pub-style food and a rock ’n’ roll ambiance.

Walking into a Rock & Brews is “like walking into a party that already is going on,” Simmons said Wednesday by phone. “You are surrounded by pop culture. The classic rock, the soundtrack of your life. The videos and the visuals, everything. You’ve got Springsteen and Jimi Hendrix and yes, even KISS.”

The restaurants also are family-friendly, he said.

“You can bring your kids, you can bring your dog – and that includes your boyfriend,” said Simmons, a noted raconteur who quickly added: “See what I did there?”

Simmons’ KISS bandmate Paul Stanley also has become part of the Rock & Brews brand.

“He noticed how much fun I was having” and came on board about a year into the business’s run, Simmons said. They both are likely to be on hand, Simmons said, when the Vacaville Rock & Brews opens in a former Chevy’s at 200 Nut Tree Parkway.

“We press the flesh,” Simmons said. “We approach this with missionary zeal. We love what we are doing.”

Simmons and Stanley also are “smart businessmen,” said Jon Mesko, the franchisee behind the Vacaville project and several Rock & Brews in Southern California. Mesko said Stanley contributed design ideas to the business.

The Vacaville location will beat Sacramento’s Cal Expo in becoming site of Northern California’s first Rock & Brews. The Cal Expo venture should break ground in the fourth quarter of 2017 and open in early 2018, said Joe Johal, CEO of the franchisee group behind it.

Mesko said he chose Vacaville partly because it seemed “under-served,” and because he could move into an existing restaurant location and avoid the construction associated with a new building.

Mesko said his Rock & Brews restaurants devote a significant number of beer taps to local offerings. The menu tends toward “comfort food,” he said, and includes Bavarian pretzels with cheese, hot dogs and chicken wings.

Simmons said Rock & Brews offers something on its menu for everyone, including “monster burgers” for people unconcerned with calorie counts and kale salads “for those of you watching your girlish figures.”

That latter group apparently includes Simmons, who said he recently enjoyed a Rock & Brews kale salad. He’s a relative newcomer to the leafy green, he said.

“When someone used to say ‘kale,’ I would say ‘God bless you,’” he joked.