The country-western-themed Bulls Bar and Grill, famous in downtown Sacramento for its mechanical bull ride, has closed.
Owner Andrea Martin, who opened the restaurant in 2010, confirmed in a phone call Tuesday that the restaurant at 1330 H St., near the Wells Fargo Pavilion, has been sold to a new owner. She declined to share details of the agreement.
“Someone came in and offered to buy the location and the business, and my lease was going up,” she said. “Everything fell into place.”
Martin regrets not being able to give her customers more specifics about the closure, due to uncertainties about when certain business licenses would be transferred to the new owner. The new owner’s name was not available.
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The restaurant’s closure comes as a disappointing surprise to some Bulls patrons, like Sacramento resident Sally Argys.
“We got down there Thursday and it was closed,” said Argys, 89, who would frequent Bulls with friends before catching matinee shows by California Musical Theatre one block away.
Just three weeks ago, Argys said, she was eating lunch there with friends before catching the theater’s summer series, Music Circus. “It’s been convenient for us, because it’s close to Music Circus It’s too hard for us to park the car, eat lunch and then repark the car.”
Martin is unsure of how much of Bulls’ ambiance, staffing and menu – if any – the new owner will retain. Martin had 12 employees.
Bulls has been closed for more than two weeks, according to employees of neighboring businesses. Though no closure sign hangs outside the entrance, the bar shelves are emptied and the restaurant’s wooden chairs and tables are sitting crowded together. And the bull? Martin said it was sold several weeks ago to an unnamed buyer.
Martin also owns Sauce’d Cocktail House and the El Dorado Saloon, both in El Dorado Hills, as well as the Office Lounge in Arden-Arcade. None of those venues are closing, she said.
About four years ago, Martin leased the H St. space that once housed the Midtown Athletic Club racquetball courts, with the vision of bringing to Sacramento a mechanical bull, part of a nightclub scene she’d seen in Los Angeles. Following Bulls’ 2010 opening, the mechanical animal, which occupied a corner “corral,” was a hit among patrons. Bulls also offered bar-style competitions, including bikini bull-riding, beer chugging and arm wrestling.
It’s not the only eatery closing in the vicinity. A nearby Starbucks at the corner of 14th and H streets, a block east of Bulls, also closed recently. The coffee company chose not to renew its lease, said Maurice Chaney, a spokesman for the economic development department of the City of Sacramento, which owns the building and parking garage. The two eateries that remain on the block are Oshima Sushi Tap House, which replaced Brew It Up, and The Melting Pot.
Argys said, “It’s strange that every time you want to eat at a restaurant, you have to call and see if they’re open.”