Restaurant News & Reviews

Trio looks at Sacramento trends in ’17

Molly Hawks
Molly Hawks Sacramento Bee Staff Photo

As foodies wait for the Next Big Things in the food/drink/restaurant world to reveal themselves, we asked a trio of well-informed pros for their Sacramento forecast:

Molly Hawks

Chef and co-owner (with husband Michael Fagnoni) of Hawks and Hawks Provisions & Public House

The spinoff: “Chefs at fine-dining restaurants will continue to diversity (by opening) casual venues that are spinoffs, like we did with Public House. It’s fun for the chefs and gives their guests different opportunities.”

On the side: “Chefs are personalizing condiments by making their own hot sauces, mostarda, catsup, aiolis and dipping sauces, and they’re pickling more, too.”

Lifestyle connections: “(Restaurants will) become become more integrated with lifestyles, offering more cooking classes and nutritious family-style meals to take home. Those could be available on any given weeknight, helping people who don’t have time to cook.”

Sea changes: “We may see a shift in restaurants’ operational paradigm, given minimum-wage increases (and other legalities) and different ways of handling gratuities. As the costs of operations continue to grow, we’ll see price increases.”

Tyler Williams

Co-owner (with wife Melissa Williams) of Tank House BBQ & Bar and Jungle Bird tiki bar

Going solo: “We’re going to see more one spirit-driven bars popping up here, like Jungle Bird and Whitechapel Gin Bar in San Francisco. When you focus on a single spirit – rum, gin, tequila – that’s when you get really creative and come up with a million different drinks.”

Crafty continues: “Customers expect a craft cocktail menu, or you’re left in the dust. There are rumors of a commissary opening, making craft cocktail ingredients (mixers such as fresh-pressed juices) for bars, eliminating the labor and streamlining the drink-making process. Also, more focus on craft beers.”

Getting the smarts: “Consumers are becoming more aware and curious about what ingredients are going into their craft cocktails, and are more willing to be educated these days. Questions arise all the time, and bartenders are having to learn the answers. So there will be a trend in knowledgeable bartenders and bar owners.”

Whitney Johnson

Owner of Whitney Johnson Design & Consulting, whose clients have included Grange, Hook & Ladder and Kru

Not so hard: “(Restaurants and bars) are going away from reclaimed, refinished and refurbished to a more polished, classic look, softening up with lighter wood touches and furniture-looking pieces with larger tufted upholstery. We’re looking for refinement, not like we just tore down barns and threw them inside.”

“Wow” factor: “(Owners) want to evoke something in their patrons that keeps them coming back, something that changes that person in that moment. People leave their work and homes and go to a space to see and become something different. We’re getting to a place where we walk into certain restaurants and bars and go, ‘Wait, am I still in Sacramento?’ 

Quiet on the set: “The scene is coming from a time when hard industrial finishes of raw wood, concrete and metal were trendy, creating noisy, bouncy spaces. (To retrofit them) would mean a $25,000 to $45,000 bill. The focus for new spaces needs to be (noise-control materials) such as acoustical canvas, double insulated walls, that sort of thing. Owners are getting to the point where there’s more trial than error.”

Allen Pierleoni: 916-321-1128, @apierleonisacbe

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