Business & Real Estate

This Sacramento grocery store not only sells beer and wine – it serves it as well

New bar and cafe area at Compton’s Market in East Sacramento.
New bar and cafe area at Compton’s Market in East Sacramento. Ellen Garrison

Have you ever reached the checkout line at the grocery store and wished desperately for a drink? Compton’s Market in East Sacramento has the answer to your prayers.

A row of tap handles for Heretic Brewing, Sierra Nevada, Fat Tire and other beers sits behind the brand-new bar at the longtime neighborhood market. It’s part of a 4,000-square-foot expansion that also features wine by the glass and counter-service food.

The expansion includes a cafe called Willy’s that serves sandwiches and hot prepared foods, an espresso bar featuring Chocolate Fish coffee and a deli that also has Gunther’s Ice Cream and baked goods from Freeport Bakery.

Compton’s owner Sunil Hans said he decided what to include in the expansion based on customer wants. “I did little survey last Christmas,” he explained. “I said ‘Give what would be the four or five things you would like me to do’ and a bar was one of the things.”

Customers can sit down at the bar or at tables in the cafe area, which were set up on Sunday for Mother’s Day with potted flowers and fliers advertising brunch and mimosas. Bartender Thomas Turner said the turnout was good in the morning for the holiday meal.

East Sacramento residents Debra Sharkey and Michael Schmandt stopped in Sunday afternoon to check out the new bar. Sharkey said they like to patronize locally owned businesses and generally enjoy Compton’s Market, especially since Hans is receptive to suggestions about what craft beers to carry.

Asked about the selection behind the bar, Turner told them a sour beer and a cider would be eventual additions to the line of taps.

“They’ve done a nice job,” Sharkey said. “It seems like it’s still a work in progress. ... The more you can mix (the beer selection) up, the better.”

Construction on the new cafe began in May 2016 and finished up before the grand opening on April 22. Hans said there were a few surprises during construction due to the old building, but everything worked out fine.

The name Willy’s Cafe is meant to honor founder Bill Compton. Hans bought the store from the Compton family in 2009. He said he’s not expecting to attract bar customers from outside the neighborhood. Nine out of 10 customers walk or bike to the bar, he said.

“Any time I see people in the bar, I can tell who they are,” he said “They are everyday customers. We know them.”

The bar/cafe closes at 9 p.m., 30 minutes before the store closes. Hans said he doesn’t want to be a nuisance to the neighborhood he relies on.

“I’m just thankful that I’m in this great neighborhood,” he said. “I’m not Mr. Wal-Mart. I’m a small guy, so I put all my life savings into this and hope that everything turns out well. And so far so good.”

Compton’s Market is located at 4065 McKinley Blvd., Sacramento; 916-456-2443

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Ellen Garrison: 916-321-1920, @EllenGarrison