By Julie Soderlund
There has been much made recently about all of the recent restaurant closures in Sacramento’s midtown. One could surmise that the doors closing on all of these restaurants means that Sacramento’s culinary market is saturated and a sign of the bad economy, but I humbly refuse to believe that is why many of these restaurants have closed. I actually think some of these closures are a sign that the restaurant scene in Sacramento is reaching a better level. Before you tell me I am crazy and need to go get a degree in economics (which BTW I already have), hear me out.
Over the past several years Sacramento has seen an explosion in new restaurants, which has not only given us all more choices, but also is finally forcing chefs and restaurateurs to compete, and perform, at a higher level. My theory is that some of what is happening right now, at least with some of these restaurant closures, is that those who put out mediocre or in some cases just plain bad food, are not surviving.
Sure, economics play a role, as they do with any business. Location, fixed costs, marketing, pricing, atmosphere, service and any number of other factors most certainly are foundational to whether or not a restaurant thrives or meets it demise. But, I think Sacramento is finally reaching a point where we have enough restaurant options, that the ones that don’t put out good food won’t do as well or won’t make it at all. In other words, we are getting rid of restaurants that are merely “Sacramento good” and hopefully getting to the point where the restaurants in town will be actually, genuinely good, by any standard.
For example, let’s take Spin Burger. As fellow GOTGer Ashley Robinson pointed out in her post earlier this week, they had great fries and apparently a good veggie burger. But I have to say that their regular burgers were not that great (Tower and Taylor’s Kitchen all have better burgers). Now, if you are a restaurant with the word “Burger” in your name, you better make me never want to eat ground cow in another establishment within the city limits if you want to stay open, and Spin Burger most certainly failed on that score. I was definitely not shocked to see the place shut down.
Or California Pizza Kitchen. I personally feel a sense of triumph that this calorie-rich chain that churns out inauthentic “Italian” has been forced from the grid and sent back to Arden Fair and Terminal A at SMF. Not only did it not fit with the general “vibe” of grid-types, but the food is actually not good and crazy bad for you. It turns out that the state worker crowd on weekdays was not enough to keep CPK on the corner of L and 16. Word.
For those of you who have read this far and are still thinking I am nuts (which I might be, but not because I have this theory) I have some back up from the paper of record in this town. The day after Brew It Up shuttered, the Sacramento Bee’s Blair Anthony Robertson penned a blog post taking a closer look at why they closed – he believes it was due to the bad food in a bad economy and increasingly competitive culinary environment (and I would add to that the unappetizing smell of beer in the making which is reason numero uno I only went there when forced). As I was think about writing this post, finding his blog only emboldened me more.
In celebration of what we hope is a thinning of the chaff and an increasing number of restaurants that are genuinely good, not just Sacramento good, we are going to launch a series of restaurant reviews here at GOTG in the coming months. BUT we want to make sure they are places you, our readers, are actually interested getting our take on. We promise to be honest and we promise to be our picky selves when it comes to wine lists, food quality and SERVICE. So you tell us, what restaurants do you want to see reviewed? Together we can hopefully help better our culinary options!
For ideas, please email us at girlsonthegridATgmailDOTcom.