The city of Sacramento has chosen a team led by restaurateur Clay Nutting and chef Jodie Chavious to transform a vacant building in midtown’s Winn Park into a picnic-style restaurant serving ice cream, food and craft beer.
A panel of midtown neighborhood and business leaders, along with city economic development officials, chose Nutting’s proposal this week and will ask the City Council to approve a lease with the team. Chavious – who has worked at Mulvaney’s, Taylor’s Kitchen, the Grange and Paragary’s – will be the lead chef.
The 3,300-square-foot building in Winn Park, at 28th and Q streets, has been vacant for more than a decade. It was once used as a fire alarm station and by the city’s information technology department. Winn Park has become a frequent gathering spot for homeless men and women, but also has a playground used by neighborhood children and families.
Nutting’s proposal seeks to turn the park around. He envisions guests ordering food, wine and dessert from the restaurant, then sitting at picnic tables or on blankets as bands play live music from a nearby gazebo.
“There are a lot of people in that neighborhood and I feel like the park is an under-utilized asset,” Nutting said. “Hopefully we’ll make it a place that midtown is really proud of and wants to hang out in.”
Nutting and Chavious will be joined by Brad Cecchi in leading the Winn Park concept. The trio is also behind Canon East Sacramento, a restaurant set to open to the public Oct. 10. Nutting was one of the co-founders of midtown’s LowBrau sausage and craft beer spot and the TBD Fest music festival. TBD folded after two years amid allegations from some investors, performers and vendors that they were paid late or not at all.
“The picnic concept they want to bring to Winn Park utilizes the park and makes it an active public space, which will be a huge benefit to the neighborhood,” said Councilman Steve Hansen, who represents midtown.
Emily Baime Michaels, executive director of the Midtown Association business group, said businesses want to see the park transformed “into a vibrant place that adds to the vitality of the surrounding neighborhood.”
The city of Sacramento has committed $500,000 to the project, but that funding will need to be approved by the City Council. The council will also be asked to approve a lease agreement with Nutting’s team.
Nutting said there are likely significant improvements that need to be made to the building before the restaurant opens. He said he is targeting an opening in spring 2020.