Sacramento restaurateurs Matt and Fred Haines are embarking on what might be their most ambitious project: a 3,600-square-foot eatery, called The Grove, with an equally large patio area at the Pavilions Shopping Center on Fair Oaks Boulevard.
The brothers just signed a lease for the space and are excitedly talking about making it a regional draw as an entertainment locale as well as an innovative farm-to-fork dining spot. The projected opening date: March of next year.
The key is the patio – the big brick courtyard known for a statue of two matronly shoppers taking a rest from their labors. Under the brothers’ plans, that space will be outfitted with a stage, speakers, trellises and several fire pits and become a setting for acoustic music performances three or four nights a week.
“The landlord is looking for something great,” Matt Haines said of shopping center owner Donahue Schriber. “They want to bring that patio alive and create some energy in the evening.”
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The idea is similar to what Matt and Fred have long done on the patio at their Bistro 33 location in Davis, but this is intended to be bigger and better. Local musicians will be the main draw, but once a month or so, bigger name “headliners” will be on the stage.
Regardless of the entertainer, the vibe will be low-key.
“You can go out to dinner, have a nice conversation and still have entertainment that’s not overwhelming,” Matt Haines said.
The design for the new restaurant has not been completed. But Haines said the aim is to connect the outdoor and indoor areas with roll-up doors – similar to those at the brothers’ Riverside Clubhouse – “so it will feel like one big open space.”
As for food, the focus will be American cuisine with locally sourced ingredients, but also a few twists, said Fred Haines, who serves as executive chef for the brothers’ five restaurants.
Among the new wrinkles: use of a clay tandoor oven to make fresh naan bread and other specialties. “We’re pushing the envelope but not over the edge,” he said.
Running the kitchen will be Robert Phillips, who worked last at Pear Southern Bistro in Napa.
The launch of The Grove caps a three-year campaign to fill vacancies and revitalize the 70,000-square-foot center, said Bobby Rich, a Retail West broker heading that effort.
“This finishes it off,” Rich said, adding that the center’s owners took their time looking for just the right tenant to activate the patio area.
“Matt and Fred,” he said, “are the perfect fit.”
Eat, drink and give back
Speaking of restaurants, downtown’s Mayahuel is the site of one of the area’s cooler fundraising events: #Network4Cause.
One evening nearly every month, the eatery’s banquet room/tequila museum is made available for a different nonprofit organization to bring in guests and generate some cash.
Local attorney and event sponsor Eric Ratinoff pays for all the appetizers and the restaurant provides drinks for $9 and gives $5 of that total to the designated charity.
The events – which sometimes also have silent auctions – often raise a couple grand for a nonprofit while providing some exposure.
Groups that have benefited in the past include My Sister’s House and the Foundation Aiding The Elderly. Last month’s event was for Run to Remember, the group that supports the families of fallen soldiers, police officers and firefighters.
Ratinoff, a personal injury attorney who runs the Eric Ratinoff Law Corp., said he is particularly impressed by the Run to Remember founder, who has committed to completing marathons to bring attention to her cause.
“It’s a great lesson for everyone out there,” he said. “We all have our own unique ways to contribute and it’s not always just about writing a check.”