Come late summer, the 700 block of K Street near the Golden 1 Center should enjoy the distinct smell of wood-fired pizza.
A Sacramento outpost of MidiCi has joined a roster of tenants that is filling out as the south side of K Street’s 700 block continues to develop. MidiCi will be next to the upcoming Solomon’s Delicatessen, which is situated in the former Tower Records store.
The flagship MidiCi is in Sherman Oaks. It specializes in Neapolitan-style pizza – thin-crust pie that’s chewy and crispy with bit of char on the crust from the wood-fired oven. The restaurant imports its flour from Naples, uses high-quality ingredients and puts a premium on speedy delivery to diners.
Brothers Danny and Cheng Wang are the franchisees for the Sacramento outpost of MidiCi, which also has locations in Missouri, Florida and Michigan. More MidiCi restaurants have been announced for Atlanta, Phoenix, Kansas City and other cities around the country.
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“We’re defining and positioning a franchise category of ‘fast-fine,’ ” said Cheng Wang. “From the point you (order) and sit down, it should take about three to four minutes. The ‘fine’ part is the product itself that is high quality and staying as true to Neapolitan as possible. The product is developed with as many non-GMO and organic ingredients as possible. This is closer to a pizza that you’d find in a Michelin starred restaurant.”
During a recent lunch hour, much of the K Street Mall adjacent to the Golden 1 Center looked like a work in progress, with buildings in various states of demolition and development. The newly opened Sauced BBQ & Spirits in Downtown Commons was packed, while just a block over on K Street, only a few tables were occupied during the height of lunch hour at the recently opened El Rey.
Part of the rush of development surrounding the Golden 1 Center, MidiCi joins a team of 16 businesses that are expected to open on the south side of K Street’s 700 block. Other confirmed tenants in the $55.4 million mixed-use project include Insight Coffee Roasters, KoJa Kitchen, Smoosh Ice Cream Factory and a new project from the Red Rabbit team, who are also among the operators of Solomon’s Delicatessen.
The project, from D&S Development and CFY Development, also includes an eatery by Kru’s Billy Ngo that will resurrect his former Red Lotus restaurant. The development includes 130 housing units that are expected to bring more than 200 residents to downtown’s core.
This emerging urbanism is familiar to the Wang brothers, who were raised on the Lower East Side of New York City. Cheng Wang, 30, moved west to San Francisco in 2014 to work as a chief financial officer for a startup gaming company and lives in Martinez. Brother Danny spent much of his career in advertising sales.
The two are familiar with the food business, having been raised by parents who ran a Chinese restaurant in New York City. The brothers were also investors in a bubble tea business in New York City.
Opening a business in Sacramento spoke loudest to Danny Wang, a longtime basketball fan who sensed the business opportunities springing from the development of Golden 1 Center. “I knew the Kings were building an arena and was watching all the (NBA coverage on TNT),” said Wang, who moved to midtown in November. “That attracted me to come down.”
The Wang brothers became familiar with MidiCi in 2015 and signed up as franchisees about two months after visiting its Sherman Oaks location. Their real estate broker connected the two to Bay Miry, a principal of the 700 block development team, who felt this pizza concept would be a good fit for the project. MidiCi takes over a space that previously was vacant for decades.
“The brothers are very motivated, and the concept felt right,” Miry said. “The food is good quality, and the layout fits well in that space with all the exposed brick. It’s another step in the overall goal of trying to bring a block together and create synergy.”
Plenty of pizza options already exist in and around Golden 1 Center, including Pizza Rock at 10th and K streets and Upper Crust Pizza at 12th and K streets. But MidiCi is geared both for customers who need a quick bite – with pizzas that can be cooked in a wood-fired oven in about 90 seconds – and others who want to hang out before a game or concert.
With a personal margherita pizza and a soda expected to cost $10 at lunch, the business owners hope to attract nearby office workers who need a fast pizza fix.
“I think a lot of people are looking for this kind of quality food with natural and organic ingredients, and we’re offering it at a price that’s very competitive,” said Danny Wang. “Right now we’re feeling very confident.”