Business & Real Estate

Sacramento’s Trails restaurant to become noodle house

A neon sign shows the charm of a lost era at Trails restaurant on 21st Street.  The western-themed restaurant has been around since the 1940s and was once co-owned by Esther Williams, the Olympic swimmer turned Hollywood actress.
A neon sign shows the charm of a lost era at Trails restaurant on 21st Street. The western-themed restaurant has been around since the 1940s and was once co-owned by Esther Williams, the Olympic swimmer turned Hollywood actress. Sacramento Bee file

After a 35-year ride under its current owner, Trails restaurant is closing its doors.

Longtime owner Gin Wong and his family announced the closure on Facebook with a photo of the restaurant’s window banner, thanking customers for more than three decades of loyalty. “Our most heartful thanks to our wonderful customers. We miss you,” the banner reads.

Trails opened in 1952 with a bit of Hollywood glow. The restaurant was originally owned by Esther Williams, the actress and competitive swimmer, and her husband, Greg. Wong bought the restaurant in 1979.

The new owners, Kathy Ueyama and her husband, Yasushi, operate two Shoki Ramen House restaurants in Sacramento. They plan to open a third noodle shop in the old Trails restaurant on 21st Street, just south of Broadway.

While the food will change drastically, the decor won’t. And the neon Trails sign will remain.

“My husband doesn’t want to take down the sign. He likes keeping the Trails feeling,” said Ueyama. She said her husband’s plan is to blend the restaurant’s Western-style vibe with Japanese noodle dishes and comfort food: “sort of a diner-ish Japanese restaurant.” The menu, she said, will focus on “healthy, farm-to-fork dishes … Japanese comfort foods.”

Ueyama said her Japanese-born husband has a sake sommelier certificate from Japan and hopes to add more sake sampling at their new location, which they hope to open in February.

The couple plan to keep open their R Street noodle house, which is leased. Their second restaurant, on 24th Street, will likely close, but there’s no date certain. She said they plan a couple of “customer appreciation” days next week at the 24th Street location, which they’ve run for about seven years.

Longtime Trails owner Wong confirmed the restaurant’s pending sale and closure by phone, but declined to comment further. “It’s busy; I have customers,” he said.

The real estate broker handling the sale, Cole Miller, said the property got lots of interest over the last year, from “looky-Lous to serious restaurateurs.” At least one deal fell through earlier this year when the buyer couldn’t come up with enough cash.

Miller said the 1,500-square-foot restaurant, its equipment and the property with its seven parking spaces sold for about $370,000. Miller said it originally was listed for $500,000.

Call The Bee’s Claudia Buck, (916) 321-1968. Read her Personal Finance columns at sacbee.com/claudiabuck.

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