Sacramento’s fine dining scene started 2014 on a tough note, first with the sudden closure of Enotria. Now, we have word that Restaurant Thir13en will shut down at the end of January. The restaurant, headed by chef and co-owner Adam Pechal, opened in 2011 in the Sterling Hotel at the corner of 13th and H streets.
Though just a few blocks away from the Sacramento Convention Center and other central city landmarks, this area has proven difficult for restaurant owners. This downtown neighborhood was home to the now defunct Brew It Up!, while the current tenant in that space, Coyote Tap House, has been in arrears on its rent and sought a deal recently with the City of Sacramento for a repayment plan.
Pechal, who also serves as co-owner of midtown’s Tuli Bistro, said Restaurant Thir13en never quite found its footing.
“To make a long story short, we never made money there,” said Pechal. “It’s been a challenge from the beginning. What I thought was not that bad of a location was worse than one would expect ... it’s so frustrating, and got me thinking about fine dining in this town and if there’s enough people to support it.”
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Pechal, a semi-finalist on the ABC cooking show “The Taste,” is now looking to sell Thir13en with its team of owners. Pechal and his crew sought to capitalize on the restaurant and Sterling Hotel ballroom as an events center for weddings and other functions, while also using the kitchen as a hub for catering operations and fine dining program.
Pechal said the restaurant and ballroom suffered from an especially slow December, but held up better throughout the year.
“Catering was the main reason we went over there in the first place, for the ballroom and for the kitchen to do our dessert production and get the charcuterie and pasta program going,” said Pechal. “We’ve got some hard choices to make here soon, like what exactly we’ll be able to do with the space. We would like to keep pushing the catering because we’ve had some success with it.”
Pechal said while he plans to sell the restaurant operation, he’s hoping to keep the ballroom for events and his catering wing.
Unlike the sudden closures of Enotria and Blackbird Kitchen & Bar, employees at Thir13en were given notice on Saturday that the restaurant would be closing by month’s end.
“It was important to us that we didn’t go that route, and let everyone finish their shifts out and have some time to get out there and get a paycheck,” said Pechal.
Pechal has now renewed some of his focus with Tuli, the 52-seat bistro that he said enjoyed some financial growth in 2013. While Thir13en focused on entrees in the $25 range, Tuli specializes in pizzas, brunch and more casual fare. Tuli recently welcomed Stan Moore, an alum of The Kitchen and Enotria, as its chef de cuisine.
Thir13en will meanwhile participate in Sacramento Bacon Fest with such dishes as pasta carbonara with Meyer lemon and house smoked bacon. As Thir13en winds down for the next 10 days, Pechal’s also hinting at a possible new restaurant project to be announced soon.
“I've got some stuff in the works,” said Pechal. “(But) it’s sad to say goodbye. We've tried everything.”