Restaurant News & Reviews

The closest bar to the California state Capitol is facing eviction

The Diplomat Steakhouse has been slapped with an eviction notice after not paying tens of thousands of dollars in rent and other expenses, according to its property owner.

The restaurant that replaced Chops last year across from the state Capitol in downtown Sacramento owes nearly $50,000 in rent, said Eleventh and L Properties owner Sheron Landis. Eleventh and L Properties filed an unlawful detainer claim against The Diplomat and owner Ramesh Prasad in Sacramento County Superior Court on July 12, Landis said.

Prasad did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Chops established itself as a landmark hangout for legislative staff and lobbyists over the 15 years it filled the 10,700 square feet at 1117 11th St. The Diplomat tried to similarly ingrain itself with the Capitol crowd, albeit with steaks priced upwards of $50 that catered toward the deep-pocketed and those with expense accounts.

But The Diplomat struggled. Sacramento Bee dining critic Kate Washington gave it a one-star September 2018 review in which she wrote the steakhouse “evinced no care or consideration for underlying quality, little attention to detail, and a complete lack of vision or understanding of what a high-end restaurant should be offering its guests.” Washington later called The Diplomat’s halibut entree the worst dish she ate in 2018.

“I think they started out with a bad review from The Sac Bee, and I think personally their prices are too high because the food and service isn’t good enough,” Landis said. “It’s too bad, because it’s one of the nicest locations in Sacramento. The patio — they did a nice job of designing it. It certainly looks good, it’s just not working for them.”

That patio had nary a single occupant at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday. Inside, five people were eating between the front lounge, bar and back room.

The Diplomat’s lease called for eviction after three or more “strikes,” Landis said. The restaurant was on its sixth strike after alleged offenses such as throwing trash in the alley, neglecting utility bills and going multiple months without paying rent, she said.

“It’s a money issue for them beyond the money issue for us,” Landis said.

After Washington’s review, The Diplomat hired a new chef, turned over its menu and rolled out specials such as three oysters and a glass of bubbly for $10.

A fire on the morning of June 28 was a setback. The blaze, which came from an undetermined source and is not under investigation, started from an attached planter box and charred a restaurant wall, said Sacramento Fire Department spokesman Capt. Keith Wade.

Customer traffic has predictably slowed during the legislative summer recess, said chef/general manager Chris Manning, but The Diplomat has banquets and other private events booked in the coming weeks. Manning was unaware of plans to close, he said.

Unlawful detainer claims can be fought in court and remain sealed for 60 days after being filed, Sacramento County Superior Court spokeswoman Kim Pedersen said.

Related stories from Sacramento Bee

Benjy Egel covers local restaurants and bars for The Sacramento Bee as well as general breaking news and investigative projects. A Sacramento native, he previously covered business for the Amarillo Globe-News in Texas.