My favorite closed-up businesses

All of us who have lived here for any length of time (even 6 months) have had a favorite business close its doors, leaving a big hole in our routine. I’ve been a resident since 1982 so I’ve got my fair share. I’ve already mentioned Franke’s and Sidewalk Pizza, and I could probably list several dozen but the following 3 have been on my mind recently, so here goes my list of favorite businesses that are no longer among the living…

What was it called? Uptown Video
Where was it? 53rd and H Street, next to what is now Selland’s
What do you miss? Well, despite the fact that I am a Blockbuster Online subscriber, I think we all miss the olden days of mom ‘n pop video stores. The sun-faded video covers, the movie posters of Terms of Endearment or perhaps Against All Odds, the near-nonexistent selection. I’m not arguing against the free market taking out the sickliest gazelle in the herd, I’m just saying it doesn’t seem like the market will ever move toward more charm and homeyness, always away from it. There are a few of these types of businesses that are near and dear, but this is the one that I thought of the other day.
What’s there now? Definitely not a faded TRON poster!!!
(Note: Save your breath, I know about Awesome Video.)


What was it called? Comics & Comix
Where was it? K Street Mall, between 9th and 10th
What do you miss? It’s more about what I missed… During the heydey of Comics & Comix, I was not into comic books, but oddly enough I am very much into them now (my pull list: Walking Dead, Atomic Robo, Incognito, Proof, Rasl). When I was going to Comics & Comix every week in the ’80s with my buddy, it was to buy Dungeons & Dragons manuals and lead figurines of fantasy characters. Our moms let us take the bus down to K Street by ourselves when we were 10. Did I mention we lived in the 1950s?

You see, now that I am a grownup who is into comics, I do most of my purchasing online. Though I will definitely be hitting up my LCBS for Free Comic Book Day
What’s there now? Depends on what you (I) mean by “there,” since it had a few different locations. Though lets face it, the way downtown looks these days most of the locations once occupied by Comics & Comix are probably vacant.


What was it called? Camellia Donuts
Where was it? By Lucky’s on the 5500 block of Folsom.
What do you miss? Camellia Donuts had donuts in the window, plus I believe they had full breakfast. But the more important question is: Where do people in Midtown and East Sac get their donuts? Over in Tahoe Park we have the awesome Tallac Village Donut Shop, but in all of the rest of the grid there seems to only be Stanely’s Donuts, near J Street Liquor across from Peet’s. But that place is not very good. And no offense to the bakers at grocery stores but I don’t think you’re supposed to make them out of construction adhesive. Are you telling me that people stopped enjoying them an apple fritter on a weekend morning in the Spring in Sacramento?
What’s there now? Papa Murphy’s. See my above complaint about homeyness (though I do frequent Papa Murphy’s quite a bit). There is homespun attitude and there is convenience. There are some things — particularly ones where you are not ingesting anything — in which convenience wins out for me, like video rental. But I’m not going to get dinner at Taco Bell when I can drive to La Favorita. In fact, I’m not going to eat anything if I can drive to La Favorita. In fact, I’m going to finish this post after I make a run to La Favorita …


What do you say, readers? Have any fond memories and/or corrections to the above? I wrote this without doing much research. You’ll be hearing from other Sac Raggers on their favorite empty storefronts…

Author: CoolDMZ

"X-ray vision to see in between / Where's my kimono and my time machine?"

40 thoughts on “My favorite closed-up businesses”

  1. Yep, there is a 16th Street Donuts. It’s on 16th Street, surprisingly enough, in a little stip mall. Also, Cafe Roma bakery (18th & E-ish?) has had fritters; I’m not sure about donuts. And while Marie’s Donuts is not downtown, it’s close.
    The most recent comic book shop on K street was Big Brother, between 7th & 8th. They even had a huge “D&D Monster Manual”-style mural on one wall. The city forced ’em out in the “Let’s give it all to the Z Gallery guy” situation (which also forced out Joe Sun, Records & Morelia’s Taqueria). Big Brother is now on J near Streets of London.


  2. Was it the cover of the original Monster Manual? That thing was genius

    I love the troll chilling down underground. “Man, nothing cool ever happens down here man, it sucks dude [twirls bone].”

    I still haven’t been to Big Brother but I can see making a trip for FCBD09…

    I can picture 16th Street Donuts now. I’ll have to check it out.


  3. Cool did we live on the same block or something?

    I’m 30 and I remember as a kid I would walk up to Uptown and just hand out in it’s cramped confines for ages. Looking back I’m sure the workers there had better things to do then talk to me about Karate Kid and Rad. My membership number was 3. As in my family was the third people to get a membership there.

    It’s insane to think just how different camellia center is these days compared to before. They had that one store next to Lucky that had a bunch of just random things, and for awhile it had a comic book store and even a pet shop connected to it from the inside.

    My life was walking distance of east sac, I could go on for days about everything that has changed. It’s crazy, I don’t feel that old.


  4. If you’re an old-school gamer you’ll love 16th Street Donuts…it is right next to the “D&D Market” convenience store! Make a saving throw vs. cruller!

    16th Street is okay donuts but the real donutty goodness is found at New Roma Bakery on 18th & E Street. Normally they are half price after 1:00 PM.

    And then there is Baker Ben’s on 27th & Broadway for those on the southern end of the grid. It is also near excellent tacos at Los Jarritos.

    When downtown, donuts can be found in limited quantities at the Capitol Park convenience store at 9th & L Street, often at reduced-price “day-old” prices. There is also a donut shop in Old Sacramento on 2nd and J Street, although it, like most other things in Old Sacramento, is overpriced. There are a few other places to score donuts, at least during business hours, like the cafeteria/convenience store in the basement of the county office building at 8th and J, and various state office buildings with their own cafeterias.

    There are two other comic book shops downtown besides Big Brother: there is one on Broadway in the same building as the Tower Theater, and another in the K Street Mall, a couple doors down from Gamestop. Both are more Marvel/DC oriented, Big Brother is much more of a graphic novel/indie comics kind of place. None stock gaming stuff, sadly.

    My list of lost and lamented business is long: Cinemania, Sacramento’s midnight-movie video store. Midtown Books on 24th Street. Plenty of comic stores: the original World’s Best Comics, House of Monkey and Beyond the Pale, in addition to the original Comics & Comix, which was on K between 9th & 10th before the eventual relocation to the seemingly cursed 700 block. Restaurants: I am already missing the Big Kahuna Burgers at Da Big Kahuna/El Cuco. Atomic Pizza on 12th and I was a great by-the-slice place, and I must take a moment of silence for the Camellia Coffee Shop on 16th and Capitol, since smashed by the relentless advance of the East End office complex.


  5. lunar: I’m so glad to have my memory of Uptown Video validated. It was cramped all right — couldn’t have been much bigger than 120 sq ft of shopping area. The reason my list is heavy on that side of town is because our first house was on 54th street just south of Folsom — around the corner from Burger King.

    wburg: I’m heartened to hear of some other donut options, and the state office building cafeterias option is especially genius. I’m thinking on a morning when I’m not working, trolling for donuts at 11 am at the Capitol cafeteria would be a fun outing.


  6. Camellia Donuts was the BEST…delicious donuts plus really good breakfast too. Went there many times while attending high school down the street. Near that same center there was a neighborhood Shell station that I still miss…they could always fix my car for a reasonable price with kind and honest service. Brillhart Shell. And don’t forget the old TG&Y…


  7. Venture just off the grid to Marie’s Donuts on Freeport Blvd at Vallejo. I think they start around 1am and wrap it up just after noon. Classic stuff.


  8. I have fond memories of that donut shop as well, being a kit carson alumni and all.
    Wasn’t there also a place in South Sacramento called ‘the dragon’s den’ ? I could be wrong – but when I was in middle school my buddies and I (err I meant the warriors and wizards of my campaign) went there to get clear 20 sided dice and all the other DnD accessories.

    I have no idea where people go to get their stuff, online I guess.
    That monster manual was great, but the cover art to the dungeon master’s guide with the huge demon was too intense for us middle school guys. We had to fashion a book cover for it so our parents wouldn’t see it and freak out!

    “you are heading down a tunnel…..”


  9. I’m going to date myself here but…

    The incarnation of Comics and Comix you refer to (between 9th and 10th) is now a convenience store, next to the Chinese restaurant that was once a McDonalds. A while back, the store still had part of a Spiderman mural on the wall, but I think they’ve painted over it now.

    But that wasn’t the original C&C. Up until maybe 1980, maybe a little earlier, Comics and Comix was in a high-ceilinged old warehousy building between, I think, 8th and 9th (south side). A fire destroyed the building. I bought my first comic book there (The Flash) and dropped too much money on Star Wars cards. The book is long gone, but I still have the cards somewhere.

    There was a store called Dragon’s Den in South Sac. I tended to buy most of my D&D stuff at C&C or the Toy Shop in Arden Fair, but I went there a few times to ogle at the lead figurines. They had quite a selection.

    Does anyone else remember Riverside Hobbies when they were actually on Riverside?

    In terms of other favorite, gone businesses, I concur with wburg, Camellia Coffee Shop. I still remember going in there once or twice and having breakfast with my father, back when Ricks Uptown was a Comptons…maybe even before that.

    I miss the Raleys on 28th & K. Damned sick people, making the hospital expand like that.


  10. How about Mario’s Italian Cellar at somewhere around 18th and L? Or maybe mom-and-pop record store Obsessed With Music at Arden and Eastern? And of course don’t forget Luis’ Mexican on Alhambra…


  11. There are still a few hobby shops in the Sacramento area, mostly out in the tall corn: Great Escape is off Howe and Hurley (literally in the back of the shopping center), Viking Hobby is still on El Camino near Mission, A1 Comics is now on Auburn in a former bank, there are a few others. Riverside Hobbies still sells a little bit of used gaming stuff, along with a dwindling selection of model railroad items, even though they aren’t on Riverside anymore.

    I don’t think I ever made it to Dragon’s Den, being a north-area kid, so my introduction to local hobby shops was Games Etc. in Birdcage Walk (also home to a Comics & Comics store.) I also recall a great SF bookstore called, I think, “A Time When,” on Manzanita, where I bought my first set of polyhedral dice in around 1980.

    Camellia was great. The last time we went in there was just before they demolished the building, people were kind of having their last hurrah and the waitress was noticeably drunk, no doubt fairly upset about her imminent unemployment.


  12. wburg: Thanks for the donut insight. I work near the Capitol Park convenience store — got a couple donuts there, kind of blech to me. Love love love New Roma (especially when the discount’s on) but it’s a bit of a hike, especially now that Ra has declared war on fair Sacramento.


  13. Ziller: Try the convenience store in the ground floor of the Resources Building on 9th & O.

    I think there was, at one point, a donut shop in the cursed zone on 11th Street between K and L…nothing there seems to last longer than a year or two.


  14. MadDog…how long was Mario’s there? My FIL often talks about a hole in the wall Italian joint that he loved…around midtown.

    I miss Tower Records.


  15. I miss the Rest Stop. That a great little bike shop.
    I miss Food Circus.
    I miss really truly miss Quality Market.


  16. I have been trying to remember the name of a store that was on Arden where Best Buy was. No one I know seems to remember it. It had items for inspection, and then you made a selection, took a tag, and the merchanise was sent to you on a conveyor belt


  17. TWO RESTAURANTS: Kip’s Kabobs & Pescados.

    Kip’s Kabobs was decadently delicious. There were two locations – one out on Folsom at La Riviera and one on the corner across from City Hall. Their wrapped, hot chicken with honey mustard kabobs were…. incredible. Weekdays I could go to the one downtown. The drive-ins were always better after a suburban kabob stop. I would pay $10 for a kabob if I could get one. mmm.

    Pescados (full disclosure: I worked there but ate there before and after my employment) was delicious at its neighborhood location of P & 28th Street. All the guys from local bands worked in the kitchen and they made INCREDIBLE fish tacos, huge burritos and yummy chips and guac. Vince Burke sold it to some stupid chain that was going to try to keep the magic going, but of course they couldn’t. 😦


  18. When did Comix and Comix shutter? I remember hanging out in a delightfully skeezy-seeming comic book shop on K Street during my misspent youth (ie, about four or five years ago). I recall hearing some sort of rumor that it had been funding jihadist activities. (!) Anyone remember that?

    I remember Pescado’s in the Arden area. The tacos were pretty good although the quality could be rather variable. I was definitely a bit P.Oed that the not-so-hot Fins replaced it.

    I miss Tower Records big time. I get a little misty whenever I drive by the empty shell where it used to be. You never forget the first place where you browsed for records all on your lonesome (back when the Sex Pistols and the Kinks were exciting and new)….ah, those were the days.


  19. bii: I think that store was called BEST. If I’m thinking of the same store…

    It had this weird corner thing that looked like it had been chipped off the building. That was the front door, I think. I always imagined that some poor sap had to move that thing into place whenever the store closed.


  20. bill: You’re thinking of “Best.” They also had an interesting entrance: the bricks at the corner of the building rolled out in the morning to reveal the entrance, at night it was rolled back to hide the entrance entirely.

    Faine: Comics & Comix folded a couple of years ago, supposedly due to shady dealings by the owner of the chain. A C&C employee opened Big Brother Comics in the same place, then relocated to 17th & J when the city made the big push to vacate the 700 block. Some interesting stories as to why Comics & Comix shut down…,cntnt01,detail,0&cntnt01articleid=24&cntnt01returnid=7

    wait a sec…Faine, you weren’t born yet when the Sex Pistols and the Kinks were exciting and new! Now I feel old…


  21. Wasn’t the conveyer belt place called Service Merchandise? We had that exact same (description wise) story in the Bay Area when I was growing up and we went there all the time. I loved watching the stuff on the conveyer belt. I was a weird kid obviously.


  22. Random bits-

    The mural at Big Brother was by Skinner, and was not an exact replica of the Monster Manual, but was obviously completely inspired by it.

    I miss the bicycle shop that was in the Rest Stop location (or maybe just across the street?) before the Rest Stop was there. Totally cool, dimly lit, old-school family owned bike shop, just like the ones from when I was a little kid.

    I also miss Big Kahuna/El Cuco, more for the El Cuco part – the buffet & the pupusas. Now again there are no pupusas downtown. One positive new thing – there is once again a cheap-ish ($8-9 buffet) Indian Food place downtown, on 9th between J & K. Royal India? Anyhow, it’s a little classier inside than I prefer, but it’s quite good.

    (My gaming days had ended years before I moved to this areas, but everyone else’s memories bring me back to those days. If any of you oldtime D&Ders have not heard the Four Eyes album “Rock’n’Roleplaying”, check it out, particularly “I Come Prepared” (about always having your personal set of dice) and “Painting Guys” (about painting those little lead figurines).


  23. My pleasure, Ziller–just don’t blame me for blowing your diet!

    Indeed, I am quite familiar with the Four Eyes, and have a copy of the “Rock & Roleplaying” album.

    I will have to check out Royal India Buffet: the same spot was previously the short-lived home of “Solo Cafe,” a rather uninspired Thai place, earlier another Thai restaurant, and considerably earlier than that, Queen Sheba, and Ethiopian restaurant (they are now on Broadway.)

    I still kinda miss Mother India Restaurant on J and 8th, briefly home to the “Downtown Arena” restaurant (mediocre and smelled like sour mop) and currently the home of Kabul Kabob (Afghan food, with a buffet.)


  24. Mother India was on 11th & J. The place on J & 8th was just called India Restaurant.
    When the Ethiopian place was on 9th, it was called Ras Teferi.
    Solo Cafe was, I think, the same owners as the previous My Thai. When Gaesorn Thai moved in down the street (originally on 12th before the re-mod of the building that now includes Ella), My Thai switched to Solo, which was Indonesian, Thai & American, the sort of combo that is a sure sign of desperation.
    Speaking of, what’s the place on J between 4th & 5th that’s now something like Indian, Chinese & Mexican food? I could be mixing something up in there, but I know it’s three different types, and suspect it won’t last long. (I haven’t tried it yet; I’ve just looked at the posted menu while walking past.) The location used to be a Chinese buffet.
    I obviously pay too much attention to the restaurants near my office.


  25. dirk: Tandoori Wok, it’s Indian & Chinese buffet. The food is good, $10 all you can eat, but I still kind of miss the Chinese restaurant that it replaced. They had a good giant lunch special for like $5.25, I don’t recall a buffet.


  26. Mario’s Italian Cellar was kind of a bad restaurant. But it was very dark and mob-like.
    Your friend may be remembering Americo, an Italian restaurant that I absolutely loved which was where Waterboy is now. Lots of people lament the loss of Americo, not so many for Mario’s.

    I miss weekend breakfast at Nicole’s on J (Sutter medical group, pharmacy now) or Pavas (25th and K I think).

    The Hob Nail was an absolutely fantastic old school “bar” bar” which died a horrible death when Harlow’s bought ’em out and expanded their joint.

    Bib’s Grubsteak at 24th and Broadway, and the favorite burger of my childhood, Harvey’s with locations across from Gemco on Broadway (Target) and on the K Street Mall down by where they put the ice skating rink during winter.

    And Yogi Bear Drive Inn down on Arden somewhere, it became a Spudnuts and then something else. Remnants of the “Jellystone Park” picnic area were still extant about a year ago, don’t know about it now.

    And where can a guy buy clothes on the cheap and still be hip now that The Fashionable Flea closed up shop (oh, about thirty years ago)


  27. Best’s funky corner chunk did move closer to the building at closing time. I remember my dad was nice enough to sit in the parking lot one night and let me see how it worked.


  28. Mario’s was really good. Yes, dark and you had to step down, but that’s called atmosphere.

    Obsessed With Music was cool but out in the ‘burbs.

    And yes, of course, Nicole’s Omelets. So good and it was always busy. There’s a place in Fort Bragg with a similar menu and product, maybe she moved there?


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