Food & Drink

Blackbird changes its story – and its name

Blackbird Kitchen and Beer Gallery, seen here in the midst of a renovation after a flood in 2015, will change its name to Bar Rouse next month.
Blackbird Kitchen and Beer Gallery, seen here in the midst of a renovation after a flood in 2015, will change its name to Bar Rouse next month. Courtesy of Blackbird

The troubled Blackbird Kitchen and Beer Gallery will change its name to Bar Rouse next month, in what the chef-owner described as a necessary reset.

“Blackbird had so many troubles. … It’s time for its story to change,” said Carina Lampkin, the majority owner.

Opened in 2012, the Ninth Street restaurant near Cesar Chavez Plaza had a tumultuous history marked by money troubles, ownership disputes and water damage from a broken pipe.

“Every time there was a big transition, the concept changed. It was confusing for our customers,” Lampkin said.

She abruptly left the restaurant last year for Oak Park Brewing, citing “creative differences” with the other partners. She had wanted a more upscale menu, but the partners disagreed, Lampkin said.

In January, she bought out the previous owners and assumed control of the restaurant again, this time with one partner, Adrian Watson.

While Bar Rouse’s food may be similar to the offerings of Blackbird, the decor will be much different. The restaurant will be decorated with hues of pink, blue and teal – the opposite of Blackbird, which emphasized black, white and gray.

The name Blackbird “came to me from a near-death experience,” said Lampkin, recounting the time she was in the intensive care unit after being the victim of a car accident.

“Bar Rouse is the opposite. It’s a celebration of life. It’s about surviving,” she said.

The menu and hours of operation will expand under the Bar Rouse brand. From 10 p.m. to 3 a.m., diners will be offered a selection of small bites, such as kimchi deviled eggs. Lampkin hopes to capitalize on the lack of late-night dining options in Sacramento. In addition, new items will be added like steak, a change from Blackbird’s seafood-heavy menu.

Lampkin will also bring back the popular oyster bar. Construction work is ongoing. A grand opening is planned for June 10.

Richard Chang: 916-321-1018, @RichardYChang

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