Busy restaurateur Chris Jarosz has signed a deal to handle the entire food program for the state Capitol building, replacing three vendors with a concept to not only serve food with a farm-to-fork ethos but educate the public about the state’s rich agricultural history.
An official announcement of the food and beverage lease agreement, which includes a dining area in the basement, another on the sixth floor and a coffee shop, is expected to be made Friday. Jarosz, who has ownership stakes in five restaurants – two Broderick locations, Localis, the just-opened Saddle Rock in midtown and the soon-to-open The Patriot at the Milagro Centre in Carmichael – will also handle much of the catering business on the premises. He has been working with business partner Jenn Crabbe, who has been active in creating the concept and making the deal.
In recent months, the food service at the Capitol has gone through trying times. In February, Griselda’s World Cafe, which ran the cafeteria in the basement of the 140-year-old building, was forced to close after health inspectors found numerous violations, including cockroaches.
Jarosz will not only take over the basement space, he will replace the two other vendors in other parts of the building.
Jarosz said he pitched a concept that would embrace Sacramento’s successful marketing campaign as “America’s farm-to-fork capitol,” adding that until now the Capitol’s food programs were “a missed opportunity.”
“We went through a series of interviews and they liked what we put together. I think they just wanted good, healthy food and service,” Jarosz said of the Capitol’s rules committee, which approved the choice. “I initially pitched them on the idea that here you are in Sacramento, which we have coined as the farm-to-fork capital of the country, and you have the Capitol, which is a great facility and a beautiful building. If you have people coming here from all over the world, why not educate them about what this region has to offer?”
While details are still being worked out, Jarosz said he will begin renovation of the three sites in October, using Sacramento interior design firm DesignTECH to revamp the spaces. He expected the spaces to open a couple of months later.
The basement dining area, which had previously offered cafeteria-style food, will soon have a combination of ready-made meals, including pizza by the slice, along with cook-to-order dishes, similar to a Dean & DeLuca, according to Jarosz. There will also be a retail section, offering various agriculture-related products tied to Sacramento and beyond.
For the coffee shop, Jarosz plans to have a coffee bar that will serve his new brand, Rush Coffee, which will open a separate roastery and coffee house in 2017 in the up-and-coming Township 9 area off Richards Boulevard near the downtown railyards. At the Capitol building on the sixth floor, Jarosz envisions grab-and-go items, along with more coffee. He plans to create a cyber lounge featuring mid-century modern furnishings.
All three locations are open to the general public. Debra Gravert, the chief administrative officer for the Assembly Rules Committee, which handled the bids for the food services programs, was unavailable for comment Thursday afternoon.
“This is an exciting opportunity,” Jarosz said. “You’re in California’s capital. The opportunity to serve food and educate people, it’s a lot of exposure we can have for people coming here from around the world. I don’t just consider this an opportunity – it’s an honor.”