Food & Drink

Sail Inn Grotto & Bar sets new course in West Sacramento

The revamped Sail Inn retains the West Sacramento bar’s nautical theme, but with an updated seafood menu and a focus on rum-based drinks.
The revamped Sail Inn retains the West Sacramento bar’s nautical theme, but with an updated seafood menu and a focus on rum-based drinks.

The anchor’s back up at one of West Sacramento’s signature watering holes. After being closed for more than two years, the Sail Inn will once again be serving drinks and food beginning at 11 a.m. Monday, marking a new era for the longtime neighborhood bar.

Now christened as Sail Inn Grotto & Bar, the landmark 1522 Jefferson Blvd. establishment is the latest project to open from the team behind Shady Lady Saloon: Alex Origoni, Jason Boggs and Garrett Van Vleck. The three partnered in the business with Wayne and Ellie Morse, who also own the building and serve as landlord.

The bar was previously known for its divey environs and $1 cheeseburger specials that catered to locals. Under the new ownership, the once dilapidated interior has been fully renovated while sticking to its signature nautical theme. The menu focuses on seafood, including fish and chips, clam chowder and shrimp Louie. The bar program highlights rum-based drinks, including mai tais and daiquiris that are created with fresh juices and fruit purees and served from a slushee machine.

“It was obvious that something cool could be done here,” Origoni said. “The community was hungry for something to patronize, and Jason was talking for years about how Sacramento needed a fish grotto. I walked in and saw the place. It was a disaster, but I thought we could do some fun things.”

The new Sail Inn arrives about three months following the Shady Lady team’s latest project, the audiophile-themed bar B-Side on 15th and S streets. Along with its flagship Shady Lady Saloon at 14th and R streets, its owners also operate Field House American Sports Pub on Fulton Avenue. Another project, Amaro Bistro & Bar, is expected to debut by the end of July, Origoni said.

The reopening of the Sail Inn reflects an increasing interest in West Sacramento by local food and beverage entrepreneurs. The area has become a hub for craft breweries, including Bike Dog Brewing Co., Yolo Brewing Co. and Jackrabbit Brewing. In January, West Sacramento officials approved a grant application for Revision Brewing, a new establishment that’s expected to open soon.

In terms of food, Chando’s Tacos plans to open a West Sacramento location at the former site of United Bakery. An outdoor structure called The Barn, in the burgeoning Bridge District near Raley Field, will include a cafe and other food service.

“We’re four-tenths of a mile from Raley Field and the majority of West Sac’s population living here on the south side,” said Origoni about the perks of Sail Inn’s location. “We’re going to be the pre- and post-game stop (for Sacramento River Cats games).”

Unlike the hyper-modern architecture of The Barn, or the craft beer renaissance seen at nearby breweries, Sail Inn symbolizes when West Sacramento was hardly the hipster part of town. The bar once catered to blue-collar workers and locals who lived nearby.

Sail Inn was also the location of an infamous incident in West Sacramento history. In 1980, a Sail Inn bartender, Virginia Mochel, disappeared after her shift. Her body was later found near Clarksburg, and her death was attributed to the serial killer Gerald Gallego.

“All the (locals) have been telling me that story,” Boggs said.

Boggs and his team hope the new Sail Inn will keep its traditional roadhouse feel, but in a more comfortable environment for both longtime locals and those who are just starting to scope out West Sac.

“We’re not trying to bring midtown (style) to West Sac,” Boggs said. “That’s why we kept the name Sail Inn. I think a lot of people have a lot of fond memories from being here.”

Chris Macias: 916-321-1253, @chris_macias