Bob Shallit

Old Soul coffee shop, restaurant join R Street revival

An Old Soul coffee shop and an “American classics” restaurant are likely going into the now-vacant Capital Wholesale Electric building at 12th and R streets in Sacramento. This file photo shows Old Soul in the L Street alley in 2012.
An Old Soul coffee shop and an “American classics” restaurant are likely going into the now-vacant Capital Wholesale Electric building at 12th and R streets in Sacramento. This file photo shows Old Soul in the L Street alley in 2012. Sacramento Bee file

An Old Soul coffee shop and an “American classics” restaurant are likely going into the now-vacant Capital Wholesale Electric building at 12th and R streets, bringing another new retail presence to the quickly transforming industrial corridor of downtown Sacramento.

Tim Jordan, co-owner of Old Soul, said he has an “agreement in principle” to take the retail space in the 25,000-square-foot brick building acquired last year by developer Michael Heller and his partner, Ridge Capital. Jordan said he intends to have the coffee shop and eatery open by the end of the year.

The 40-seat restaurant is tentatively being called Pullman, a reference to the rail tracks that still run up and down R Street but now are purely ornamental. The fare: “the sort of upscale food served in a (railroad) dining car 80 or 90 years ago but with an updated twist,” Jordan said.

Two office tenants, architecture firm HGA and MarketOne Builders, already have agreed to take the remaining space in the decades-old building that was previously used for warehousing and sales.

Jordan said he and partner Jason Griest have long wanted to open a shop in the R Street area and looked there nearly a decade ago before opening their flagship coffee roasting and café business on an alley connecting 17th and 18th streets, between Capitol Avenue and L Street.

Heller approached the Old Soul owners last year about moving into his building, Jordan said, but they declined because they were focused on a possible expansion in Davis. The Davis deal eventually fell through and they reconnected with Heller.

“We feel it’s great space in an old industrial area … that fits the Old Soul character,” Jordan said.

Heller said he expects to begin rehab work at the building later this month but declined to comment on any deal with Old Soul. “We have a gentleman’s agreement but no lease, so I can’t talk about it,” he said.

His project is one of many that are remaking R Street into one of the area’s trendiest business locales. Just to the west of Capital Wholesale is the recently completed Warehouse Artist Lofts. A few blocks to the east is the Ice Blocks, another Heller project that eventually will have 200,000 square feet of retail, housing and offices.

These are busy times for the Old Soul partners. They are readying an expansion in Oak Park, where they are opening a wine bar and small-plates restaurant next to their coffee shop at 35th and Broadway. The new place, to be called Cooper on 3rd, will have 25 seats and is set to open by July 1, Jordan says.

The partners also recently spent $1.6 million to acquire the building at 1716 L St. that fronts the Old Soul alley business. The space is now occupied by professional offices but will ultimately be converted to retail uses, he says.

Hello, my name is ...

Warren Harris has a solution for those of us who dread going to reunions, conventions and other big events and starting conversations with strangers or people we haven’t seen in decades.

It’s a nametag. But no ordinary nametag.

He calls it the Shmoooz’R, a laminated 4- by 6-inch badge that carries a collage of images, logos and words that illustrate the wearer’s hobbies, career, sports interests and current town of residence, for example. It’s all designed to enable people to zero in on common interests.

Unlike the ubiquitous “My name is Bob” tags, this networking tool “makes it much easier for someone to come up to you and engage in a conversation,” said Harris, a gregarious 74-year-old who has never had a problem working a room. But he knows that others often need an ice breaker.

Harris, a retired state worker and Carmichael resident, recently received a patent on the Shmoooz’R – and has convinced the University of the Pacific to give it a trial run in May when the school’s class of 1965 gathers for its 50th reunion. The 150 or so attendees are being asked to fill out a questionnaire in advance, listing their interests and accomplishments. Harris will then prepare the tags.

The inventor has high hopes beyond the UOP event, thinking his low-tech invention could “go national.” Pricing would depend on the number of Shmoooz’Rs being ordered. Maybe $5 apiece for multiple orders for a big event. Up to $30 for someone just wanting one.

Harris said he initially hoped to test the product in his hometown of St. Paul, Minn., and approached alumni officials at MacalesterCollege. In preparation, he did a little research on one of the staffers and prepared a sample customized Shmoooz’R just for her.

“She looked at it and was horrified,” he said sheepishly. Turns out he included a photo of her black Lab, which had recently died.

“That,” he said, “was the end of that little venture.”

Call The Bee’s Bob Shallit, (916) 321-1017.

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