Cathie Anderson

Elk Grove’s Baguettes Deli gets creative to fill bigger space

Screen grab of the Baguettes website home page.
Screen grab of the Baguettes website home page.

Restaurateur Paula Hunley continues to expand her menu as she looks for ways to boost her sales per square foot since relocating her Baguettes Deli to a larger space in Elk Grove two years ago.

“In our old location, we could only seat 13 people,” said Hunley, who’s owned the deli for five years. “Inside here, we can comfortably seat 50 people, and then I have a big patio that can seat probably another 50 people if we need it.”

While Baguettes, now located at 8351 Elk Grove Blvd., has three times the square footage that it did at 9380 Elk Grove Florin Road, Hunley estimates that her receipts have grown by only 50 percent. Neither location is visible from the street, Hunley told me, and since her budget is tight, she largely depends on her culinary talent to generate word-of-mouth excitement about her menu. She makes breads, sauces – everything – from scratch, shunning processed foods.

Since setting up shop on Elk Grove Boulevard, she has added hamburgers, expanded her breakfast menu and brought in craft beer and wines from other local businesses.

“I always wanted … a really, really good gourmet burger, not your average greasy burger,” Hunley said. “Ours has chuck meat, short rib meat and a brisket meat ground all together. There’s not a whole lot of fat in it at all.”

Hunley said she bakes focaccia bread for her hamburger buns because, while it is soft, it is hearty enough to stand up to all the juices. 

Lofty Lou’s makes move: Business has grown so much at Lofty Lou’s Yarn Shop that the owners are moving the store to a larger space, though still on Main Street, in downtown Placerville.

“Our little shop is busting at the seams, so if we put about five people in here, they’re bumping butts,” said April Scott, the general manager for the business. “We continue to be a really strong sisterhood of women who love what we do. … We now have one gentleman as a member. One of our members, her husband decided he wanted to buy in because he wanted to have a say. That was good, though, because we’ve put him to work.”

Scott told me that the new location at 263 Main St. is 1850 square feet, about double the space at the current location. They’ve seen an influx of new customers, she said, people who discovered the store after a story in this column reported that 25 regulars at the store had teamed up to buy the knitting shop from longtime owner Lou Andersen.

That group took over operation in January 2015. Andersen had remained as a partner, Scott said, but she is phasing out of the group. However, she added, Andersen still owns the building where Lofty Lou’s is currently based and is looking for a tenant.

Scott said she and her partners will open in their new location on Sept. 2, and they plan a grand opening in their new location in mid-September, right around the time that El Dorado County welcomes competitors from more than 20 countries for the World Gold Panning Championship.. 

Cultivating filmmakers: Veteran filmmaker Frank Casanova, who owns The Studio Center production facility in the Arden area, thinks he has stumbled upon an untapped market in the Sacramento region: a growing number of neophytes interested in becoming film producers. He recently launched a film school to serve them.

“I worked on … short films for the ‘A Place Called Sacramento’ film festival,” he said. “I think I’ve made 15 movies for them over the last 10 years or so. Looking at some of the crew pictures from the movies I’ve been involved with, I said, ‘Hey, almost everybody in this picture – the composer, the director, the actor, the producer – they all have white hair. All of a sudden, it occurred to me that there’s a huge market emerging right now of baby boomers who are going into either retirement or semi-retirement. Many are saying, ‘This is my chance to do something creative.’ 

And, Casanova said, they have disposable income to make a film covering the subjects they think are ignored by Hollywood, but they don’t have an overall knowledge of how the process works.

“The boomers are asking: ‘How do I tell my story?’ ” Casanova said. “They are not so focused on the technical part. They figure they can get there somewhere along the way or they can partner with one of the millennials. They want to get their story out there and learn: ‘How do I tell that in a movie?’ 

The Studio Center Film School has already begun offering workshops, Casanova said, and there’s a link to the school website at thestudiocenter.com. Casanova’s plan is to also film short educational segments that he will eventually sell to online students at indyfilmschool.com.

Cathie Anderson: 916-321-1193, @CathieA_SacBee

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