Lunch is all but gone at Empress Tavern, the restaurant under Sacramento’s historic Crest Theatre announced to customers in an email Monday.
Two lunch items remain available for pick-up or dine-in during the middle of the day: a fried chicken sandwich and a house cheeseburger, both $10 and served with fries. Orders must be placed on Empress’ website, and pick-up or dine-in are both available from noon to 2:15 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Empress is chef Michael Thiemann, his wife Lisa, Crest Theatre owner Robert Emerick and partner Ryan Donahue’s carnivorous answer to Mother, their all-vegetarian restaurant also on the 1000 block of K Street. Mother will remain open for traditional lunch service, Donahue said, while Empress moves in a more exclusive direction.
“We eliminated table service at lunch (because) it allows us to be more nimble with our staff and allows us to focus on events and private parties,” Donahue said in an email Monday.
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After nearly three years of planning and construction, Empress opened in 2015 in a 7,000-square foot underground space previously occupied by two basement theaters. A rotisserie oven capable of simultaneously roasting 60 chickens set the tone for the meat-centric restaurant, which includes prime rib, tableside-sliced côte de boeuf and a four-person fried chicken dinner on its current menu.
Entrees all run north of $20, though the cheeseburger - winner of the 2017 Sacramento Burger Battle - can be found for just $6 during happy hour. The “Queen’s Omakase” lets diners tailor an extravagant feast such as a seafood bar or whole suckling pig starting at $90 per person.
The former executive chef at Ella, Michael Thiemann had previously announced plans to open Maiden Sacramento Ice Cream — which tested affogatos with flavors such as scorched milk, cardamom and cashew peach at The Mill in August 2015 — and Queen’s Market fish shop before Empress opened. No concepts outside of Empress and Mother have been finalized, Donahue said Thursday.