The Economy Sucks for Restaurants Too

Much was made of the recent closing of California Fat’s this week, much more, in fact, than the closing of Brother Oliver’s earlier this year. Each establishment was just short of being iconic, but the suburban Oliver’s didn’t quite have the cultural cache that anything with the name Fat attached to it does.

It is, however, not just the locals who are having difficulties in our worsening economy. Within the last few months, we’ve seen the closing of Macaroni Grill on Alta Arden (now where am I going to get chicken parmagiana after seeing dissected bodies? Oh, that’s right, the bodies left town too. Alta Arden is like a ghost town now. Thank God for Chick Fil-A.), Wendy’s on Fair Oaks, and Pick Up Stix everywhere. I’m not saying that some of these national chains will be missed for their standout cuisine, but I’d rather have a chain or big box retailer than an empty storefront any day.

7 thoughts on “The Economy Sucks for Restaurants Too”

  1. I’m not going to say the economy is good for restaurants, but “the economy” is often a scapegoat or excuse for a the failure of a poor restaurant. California Fat’s hasn’t been good since it’s rebirth as a steakhouse – or was it dim sum? – several years ago. I’ve been there several times (on someone else’s dime) and had just horrid experiences. If they weren’t understaffed, the food was horrible, and if the food was decent, it took over an hour to get to the table, etc. …

    I’m sure that in many cases the economic climate is the reason why a business fails. However, folks opening up restaurants know that more than 2/3 of all restaurants FAIL within the first two years; it’s not the kind of business anyone gets into for short term gain – I think it was even Randy Paragary who admitted he wasn’t profitable until he had been in the business for 10 years. And even then, not all of his restaurants make much money; his best, which used to be where Ink is now, couldn’t stay open for more than a few years.

    In the case of Fat’s, all this talk of the economy is making a mountain out of a molehill. Generalizations can’t be made from this one case – we’ve had more restaurant OPENINGS in the last 24 months than in the 48 preceding.


  2. Times change. I think that California Fats also fell victim to the fact that fewer diners are going to Old Sac and more are patronizing the wealth of great eating opportunities that have popped up in Downtown and Midtown.

    Also, the trend in healthy eating could not have been good for a restaurant called “California Fats”. Newcomers and tourists probably envision a buffet table of deep fried goodies and people who sweat too much when they eat, not the legacy of a Sacramento legend.


  3. That’s true, Stickie. There’s a lot more competition, and they never really got their butts in gear to compete with the dozens of places offering good, affordable, fresh & local food – places that for the most part have much easier parking than Old Sacramento!


  4. It’s funny – I only stop by here every couple months, and every time I do, you’re still ragging on Texas West. I still go for the chicken and ribs and they’re still great, no matter how many times you say they’re not.

    I liked Pickup Stix too (oh, the HORROR!), so please, commence with your mockery.

    I haven’t been to California Fats in years, but I always thought the building was great, and they had an amazing Dijon chicken in the early to mid 90’s (keeping in mind that my taste obviously leans to cardboard dipped in poo, as clearly shown by comments above).


  5. Texas West isn’t horrible. I used to like it, until I went to places like Cafe Au Creme and realized that there was even better out there.

    Just because something’s not bad doesn’t mean you can’t look for something better, Carl… You might even find something that makes you question why you liked the first place to begin with!


  6. I’ve been on vacation a little bit….but I heard that Tahoe Joes went down (off Howe Ave); the TGIF is being torn down [but rebuilt? off Howe] and thank gawd but Tex Wasabi looks like its on its last leg???

    Anyone confirm the foregoing????


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