Cathie Anderson

Cathie Anderson: Frumoasa Salon owner teams with dad to open 2nd site in downtown Sacramento

After watching novice hairstylists try but fail to build their clientele, Frumoasa Salon owner Diana Ciocan began to think that she needed to be more of a mentor than a landlord. That was the genesis for Frumoasa 2.

Ciocan has been a salon owner for 10 years, but she can relate to young women who tell her that they can’t afford to pay $800 a month in rent or they lack the self-confidence to reproduce a haircut that a client shows them in a magazine. When Ciocan first started, she paid to get extra education from Vidal Sassoon and Paul Mitchell. Through those classes, she said, she gained skills and self-esteem. She wants to provide a similar boost to the novices of today.

“Every time I interview these girls coming out of beauty school, they’re saying they don’t have a mentor or some kind of training on the job,” Cicoan said. “I just had an interview with a girl who’s … had her beauty license for three years, but she’s working at a dog grooming place in Fairfield.”

Ciocan thought she could hire younger stylists on a commission basis and put them through their paces, but she didn’t want to upset the balance at Frumoasa, 1007 12th St. in downtown Sacramento. That salon is home to a number of already-established stylists. When Ciocan shared her thoughts with her dad, restaurateur George Muntean, he suggested they rent the space next to his Muntean Soup restaurant at 1225 J St. and open up a second Frumoasa location. They plan to have it up and running by fall, and Ciocan already has tried out her curriculum with a young stylist she mentored for three years.

Nisha Patel ... was my protégée,” Ciocan said. “She swept hair, washed my clients’ hair, blow-dried, answered the phone. I taught her steps to be very consistent and systematic. Within four months, she went from commission to rental at my place. She had the drive and the passion. She has a psychology degree but she realized that’s not what she wanted to do. She wanted to do hair. She’s in L.A. now freelancing for magazines and working as a stylist.”

A lot to digest

Sushi chef Lou Valente has the chops to please discerning diners, as Bee dining critic Blair Robertson noted in his March review. Even so, Valente told me that he’s had a bit of a learning curve since opening Lou’s Sushi in midtown Sacramento on Oct. 1.

“The biggest challenge has been just payroll, managing people’s hours, making sure everybody takes their breaks, the kind of stuff that can get you in trouble,” Valente said.

The kitchen side of his business, he said, is second nature. Valente enjoys mixing up flavor profiles, textures and temperatures to create new rolls or dishes, and he serves his creations to trusting patrons whose comments help to refine ingredients. The components of the “6-item roll,” for example, sound like something a kid might throw together if let loose behind a sushi bar – tempura shrimp, lemon and spicy tuna in the middle, then avocado, salmon and a broiled jalapeño on top – but in Valente’s hands, they taste like a doctoral student’s dissertation.

“I just kind-of dialed it in over the years ...” Valente said. “First, the jalapeño was just raw on top. Then there was a tempura jalapeño. There wasn’t lemon in there in the beginning. There was no garlic sauce. When I put that broiled jalapeño on there and the lemon and that little bit of garlic sauce, people went crazy.”

On the busiest days, Valente serves up about 180 meals, though his restaurant seats only 30. After Robertson’s review, Lou’s business surged by 30 percent at 2801 P St., and Valente shifted into restaurant manager mode.

“I said to my staff, ‘If we keep 30 percent of these people, we’re golden.’ ” Valente said. “I think we’ve kept way more than that.”

Reader sees change

Bee reader Randy Hiuga was driving by 3129 Arden Way when he noticed that the Marie Callender had gone out of business. The restaurant closed June 22, after 46 years in business.

“We were just driving by, and we were like, ‘Wait, why is the sign down?’ ” the Sacramento resident said. “That’s not a good sign.”

Lincoln’s Bonnie Mohammed acquired this franchise location back in 1970, but she sold it to her daughter Cindy Garcia about five years ago.

“I’ve been retired. The lease was up,” Mohammed said, “and business was slow, so she decided not to pursue the lease again and closed it up.”

Mohammed said most employees had found work elsewhere. The spokeswoman for the Marie Callender chain, Vivian Brooks, said there are two other Marie Callender restaurants in the region – one at 5622 Freeport Blvd. in Sacramento and another at 5525 Sunrise Blvd. in Citrus Heights.

“We certainly hope to have an opportunity to serve those customers who frequented the Arden Way location in the near future at these other sites,” Brooks said.