Nosh Pit

T-shirts celebrate Sacramento’s culinary scene

All the cool kids are celebrating Sacramento’s culinary spirit with a new line of limited-edition T-shirts by Gregory Berger. More Sacramento-centric designs are expected soon.
All the cool kids are celebrating Sacramento’s culinary spirit with a new line of limited-edition T-shirts by Gregory Berger. More Sacramento-centric designs are expected soon. Courtesy Gregory Berger

Limited edition T-shirts have become a hot commodity among supporters of Sacramento’s culinary scene, the clothing equivalent of New Helvetia Brewing Co.’s much-coveted Thurston ale.

They’re printed with Sacramento-centric imagery, including the signature foods and slang of the River City. Links to ordering the shirts are being shared all over Facebook, including a “Hella Local” T-shirt with small icons of a burger, cup of coffee, a beer bottle and Sacramento’s Tower Bridge.

The latest T-shirt design in this line takes a slightly more dramatic approach: It shows the area code “916” with a large chef’s knife doubling as the “1.” It’s the perfect shirt to wear for a late-morning midtown brunch, following a night of carousing at the local craft cocktail spots.

The shirts are the brainchild of Gregory Berger and his Pomegranate Design company. Berger’s a fairly recent transplant to Sacramento. He’s an Ohio native who lived in Chicago and San Francisco before settling into the 916 in 2001. His design clients have included the Sacramento Zoo and BloodSource, but he’s especially fond of local food and its personalities. How much? Hella, as they say in Sacramento.

“Something I really enjoy about Sacramento is the access to the people,” said Berger. “You can friend your favorite chef on Facebook, and they’ll write back to you, and you see them at events. I’m not a chef but can sort of be part of it as an outsider.”

Sacramento’s dining denizens may already be familiar with Berger’s design. His work includes logos and branding for the Sacramento Burger Battle, the Culinerdy Cruzer food truck and a “Farm 2 Fork 2 Face” ad campaign for Mulvaney’s B&L.

Berger figured that Sacramento itself was ripe to be commemorated with a series of food-related shirts. Apart from the trademarked logo of a fork sticking out of the dirt, which is used in official events and signage related to Sacramento as “America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital,” Sacramento hadn’t played with its foodie archetypes in a clothing kind of way.

Portland, for example, is celebrated in a line of locals-only flavored T-shirts at www.thepeoplespdx.com. Among the designs: An “I Love PDX” shirt with a cloud obscuring the heart, and a rendering of the St. John’s Bridge.

Now, it’s Sacramento’s turn to show its pride in 100 percent cotton.

“I saw there was basically a lack of cool food T-shirts,” said Berger. “The beer and coffee scenes, and all the restaurants are really taking off. I was thinking of, how do you say ‘local’ with the food scene?”

Berger kicked off his T-shirt line with the design of a food truck broken into a “cuts chart” like you’d see for a pig or cow (loin, shank, belly, etc.). He followed with the “Hella Local” shirt, an idea he’d mulled for over a year. The inspiration came via Twitter from Jess Milbourn, former co-owner of The Eatery in West Sacramento and current chef at Broderick Roadhouse. Berger compiled a few preliminary designs and showed them to a few folks, including AJ Tendick of Bike Dog Brewing Co.

Berger ultimately released the “Hella Local” T-shirt on Oct. 9.

“The response was almost immediate,” said Berger. “We were set at 30 shirts (to sell), and ended up selling 47 in five days.”

The catch is that Berger’s T-shirts are only available for a short time. At teespring.com, designers set a minimum number of T-shirts that need to be sold over a specified period before they’re printed. Buyers only pay if the goal is reached, which wasn’t a problem at all for the “Hella Local” T-shirt campaign. The response was so good that Berger plans to release a second run of the shirts.

The “916” shirt will be available through Tuesday, but Berger says more designs are on the way.

“One that’s coming is a very Sacramento-centric Day of the Dead look,” said Berger. “I’m ready to release (shirts) every week, or every other week, depending on how it goes. I have a whole lineup ready to go.”

Call The Bee’s Chris Macias, (916) 321-1253. Follow him on Twitter @chris_macias.

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