Bob Shallit

Carmichael culinary center lineup nearly full after adding popular Sacramento sushi chef

A grand arch will welcome visitors to Milagro Centre, which is set for a grand opening early next year.
A grand arch will welcome visitors to Milagro Centre, which is set for a grand opening early next year. Bob Shallit

The innovative Milagro Centre in Carmichael is on the verge of being fully leased and could have a grand opening in January.

A poke bar run by Sacramento chef Billy Ngo is taking one of three remaining retail spots at the 4-acre culinary hub at 6241 Fair Oaks Blvd., and a gourmet “farm-to-fork” specialty market and a wok eatery are committed to the others.

“For the most part, we’re all booked up,” said real estate investor Allan Davis, who developed the center along with his late wife, Nancy Emerson-Davis. It’s modeled on Napa’s Oxbow Public Market and is striving to bring the culinary inventiveness of midtown Sacramento to the suburbs.

All the tenants are local. They include River City Brewing Co., which relocated from what used to be Downtown Plaza; the Mesa Mercado restaurant and taco bar, run by Ernesto Delgado; a multi-concept eating spot called The Patriot from restaurateur Chris Jarosz; an Insight Coffee location; and a dessert shop, Ghiotto Artisan Gelato.

The Milagro center, at the site of a former strip mall, also includes a 7,000-square-foot events center for weddings and other large gatherings.

It has drawn some of the area’s top food operators, the latest being Ngo, who is opening Fish Face Poke Bar & Market. It’s similar to a Fish Face operation he opened earlier this year on R Street, but this one will have a small market selling take-home ingredients for making poke – a Hawaiian seafood salad.

Ngo also runs the popular Kru Japanese fusion and sushi restaurant that is moving next year from midtown to east Sacramento.

“Everybody in town wanted” to recruit Ngo, said Dave Herrera, a Colliers International broker who is handling leasing for Davis.

Ngo said he was drawn to the “cool energy” at Milagro, noting that he knows several of the other restaurant operators opening there.

Davis, who spent years planning and then developing the two-building project with his wife, said he’s happy with the mix of tenants.

“I just wanted a variety of restaurants that would all blend and work together and not compete with each other,” he said.

Davis said he expects Mesa Mercado and River City Brewing to be open by the end of October. He’s hoping to have the rest of the businesses operating by Jan. 8.

Why then? It’s the birthday of his wife, who died in March.

Say cheese

Here’s an idea: Take one of Sacramento’s business legends – Tower Records founder Russ Solomon – and have him shoot photo portraits of 10 other local luminaries.

That’s just what officials did at Sacramento City College to celebrate the opening of a new Student Services Building. The result: An exhibit called “Legends of Sacramento,” featuring stunning 44-by-60-inch pictures of retired TV newsman Stan Atkinson, artists Wayne Thiebaud and Gregory Kondos, restaurateur Biba Caggiano, former Mayor Anne Rudin and a half-dozen others, on display at the school through Oct. 30.

The photos all were taken between late June and August at the school’s photo studio. During the same time, Solomon took pictures of another 150 or so people for an exhibit called “Community,” which is being shown at SCC’s Kondos Gallery through Oct. 9.

“It was a lot of fun,” said Solomon, who started taking pictures at the age of 15 and continued while building Tower into an international retailing powerhouse before its decline and eventual collapse in the early 2000s.

The music entrepreneur, who turns 90 next week, said he’s happy with the way the photos turned out. He’s also pleased with one he didn’t shoot: A portrait that someone took of him and that hangs with those of the other legends.

In the picture, “I look pretty good, actually,” Solomon said, “for an old man.”