Dining News: Second Sac Restaurant Adds Kitchen Tip Option


Following in the footsteps of Magpie, Ella has added a kitchen tip option to their receipts.

For those unfamiliar with the way tips are distributed, generally, only service staff can legally share in the tips. Kitchen staff is prohibited by law from getting a cut (unless servers choose to share their tips as a gift), and this leads to great pay disparities between the front of the house and back of the house staff.

Click here for a more detailed explanation of the issue.

Magpie was the first Sacramento restaurant to add a line where diners could choose to leave a tip of any amount for kitchen staff. Ella's option is similar, but the receipt asks if you want to "allocate 5% of the above tip to the Kitchen Staff." My server clarified that it meant that for every $100 in tips collected, $5 would go to the kitchen staff. This does not mean that if you leave a 20 percent tip, 5 percent goes to the kitchen, with the remaining 15 percent going to the servers.

One of the criticisims of the Magpie system is that some servers started to see less take home pay as diners started splitting the same tip percentage between service and kitchen staff. The Ella system seems to try to tackle this issue by strongly suggesting that 5 percent go to the kitchen, though I suppose one could change that 5 percent split to any number.

Selland's PR contact did not respond to a phone and e-mail request for comment and elaboration on Wednesday afternoon. My server at Ella during an afternoon visit said that the change took place at the beginning of the year.

While we're on the topic of tipping, there was a great San Francisco Chronicle article earlier this month that examined what's happened to restaurants that have tried to eliminate tipping and increase wages.

So when Sous Beurre Kitchen opened in the Mission in February, Mauschbaugh followed the example of five Bay Area restaurants that abandoned tipping in late 2014. He printed all-inclusive prices on his menu, which allowed him to pay his kitchen staff well above minimum wage and offer health insurance.

This October, though, Mauschbaugh aban-doned the tipless model and issued pay cuts. “We got overrun with taxes, and it became unsustainable,” he said.

Read the entire article in the San Francisco Chronicle.

More News:

Rum Rok - The weather may be cooling down but this newly opened Tiki bar has been heating up the downtown bar scene ever since it opened Dec. 9...Co-owner Bob Simpson hopes that the bar, which occupies a former nightclub space on the corner of H and 15th streets, will become a go-to stop for concert and theater-goers attending shows at nearby Memorial Auditorium and Wells Fargo Pavilion. In Sactown Magazine. (Fifth item.)

Soup as medicine: Aka Tonkotsu, Ryujin Ramen House - But there’s no rest for the busy, so I load up on soothing soups like the Aka Tonkotsu ($8.95) from Ryujin Ramen House. With spicy red ginger, green onions, BBQ pork and plenty of super-hot broth, it’s like medicine in a bowl. I love the semicooked egg, too, for its creamy smoothness. Ann Martin Rolke in Sac News & Review.

That parm, tho - Rocklin recently got its first Jimboy’s Tacos, which held its official grand opening last week. Welcome to Parmesan-dusted heaven, Rocklin. The Rocklin Jimboy’s (5410 Crossings Drive) joins the Folsom location and a few spots further away in testing new Jimboy’s menu items. Janelle Bitker in Sac News & Review.

Tea, please - More and more boba shops keep opening in Natomas. The latest is T4 U, which boasts hip decor and excellent credentials. The first T4 opened in Taiwan in 2004, slowly adding more Taiwan locations before expanding to Malaysia in 2012. Janelle Bitker in Sac News & Review. (Fourth item.)

Bakery’s invisible expansion - Its customers may not realize it, but the popular Karen’s Bakery & Cafe in Old Folsom has practically doubled its space. After years of having its cooking and baking staff squeeze into a tiny kitchen, the business has leased a nearby building that formerly housed the Thai Siam Restaurant. Bob Shallit in the Sac Bee.

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Dining News: More on Malt & Mash at 7th & K


The collaboration of of Bob Simpson and Trevor Shults have revealed more details of their planned three restaurant complex at 7th & K to Sonya Sorich in Sac Biz Journal.

El Rey, the taco restaurant, fills part of a space. It's expected to open in November, serving tacos filled with braised and slow-cooked meats in addition to other menu items such as ceviche and margaritas. Shults called it a "high-energy restaurant" that will have multiple TV screens. El Rey will bring new life to a space that's been vacant for about two years...

Malt & Mash, the Irish pub, will fill a former Starbucks space that's been empty for three years. It will offer Guinness on draft, Irish coffee and a food menu with about eight items. It's expected to open in mid-November or early December.

Guests will be able to walk between El Rey and the unnamed venue without going outside. Malt & Mash, the only 21-and-older venue of the three, will require separate access.

Read the entire story in Sac Biz Journal.

More News:

Ella adds $26 burger to menu - Ella Dining Room & Bar’s regular $17 burger (with the egg add-on) was already among Sacramento’s spendiest. Now, Ella has beaten itself. With a $26 burger. Called “The Twenty Six Dollar Burger." Janelle Bitker in Sac News & Review.

Try It: Butter Lettuce Salad - Ella Dining Room and Bar makes eating healthy easier than ever. The Butter Lettuce Salad has got the works with freshly shaved radish, sweet strawberries, marinated goat’s milk feta and savory tarragon vinaigrette. It’s so tasty you won’t believe that it’s actually good for you! Antoinette Ranit in Sac Mag.

Wrap N’ Roll’s sushi burritos inspire a deeper look - But tastes and textures come together beautifully in some of Wrap N’ Roll’s non-wrap dishes, starting with its “volcano” nachos. Wonton chips provide a crispy foundation for minced spicy tuna, which, bunched on chips, mimics refried beans. The nachos hold Sriracha and habanero mayonnaise along with the spicy tuna, yet the overall heat remains manageable enough for you to notice how freshly made the wonton chips taste. The guacamole was tasty as well, though not tasty enough to overcome my dismay that it was not wasabi. (Wrap N’ Roll does not offer wasabi, or fresh ginger, as sushi sides.) Carla Meyer in the Sac Bee.

Go, go Ricezilla: Ricezillas, Lou's Sushi - The Ricezillas ($5) at Lou's Sushi are a hefty little appetizer that'll stomp your taste buds with a dense, rich flavor before a swath of burning wasabi cleans up your palate. Anthony Siino in Sac News & Review.

Apple Hill farms open for annual autumn fun - As the air gets cooler and the leaves begin to fall, Apple Hill farms and ranches start preparing for their most popular time of year: apple season. Located in El Dorado County, Apple Hill farms and ranches feature many specialty wares from berries to wine, pumpkins to Christmas trees, some available year-round. In September, most farms celebrate the fruit they’re famous for, opening for apple season Labor Day weekend. Lydia McNabb in the El Dorado Hills Telegraph.

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Dining News: Now Open - Track 7 Natomas


Track 7, the Curtis Park-based brewery, quietly opened its Natomas location on Friday.

The craft brewery had hoped to open their second location by New Year's Eve, but a rain-soaked December delayed construction. Give the team behind Track 7 credit. When they announced the new location in July 2014, they predicted a December 2014 opening. They only missed it by a couple weeks, which is very good.

The location is still a work in progress, but apparently, they've done enough to start allowing the public to come to events.

This weekend, they'll be open on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, with food trucks to feed the masses.

The new facility will open with a capacity of 8,000 barrels of beer, compared to their 2013 production of just 1,200 barrels at the Curtis Park facility. The original location will be used for pilot batching and sour beer production.

Their new Natomas warehouse and tasting room is located at 826 Professor Lane.

More News:

Dine Downtown: 4 recommendations to experience Sacramento restaurants - But for those restaurants that are part of the line-up, Dine Downtown is a great opportunity to win over folks and expand their reach. Here are a few good bets, based on my visits (not for the latest special menus, which I have yet to try). Featuring Hook &  Ladder, Biba, Grange and Ella. Blair Anthony Robertson in the Sac Bee.

VIDEO: Dine Downtown in Sacramento focuses on Farm-to-Fork movement - Chefs in downtown say Dine Downtown weeks is a win-win for restaurants and customers. Melinda Meza on KCRA.

VIDEO: Dining Downtown at the Delta King - Chef Julian Vasquez previews the Delta King "Dine Downtown" menu. On KCRA. Lisa Gonzales on KCRA.

VIDEO: Dine Downtown Week partners with Food Literacy Center - Amber Scott discusses how this week’s Dine Downtown event benefits the Food Literacy Center. Lisa Gonzales on KCRA.

VIDEO: Dine Downtown at Blue Prynt - Enjoy a 3 course meal at a discounted rate with Dine Downtown, featuring Blue Prynt. Lisa Gonzales on KCRA.

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Dining News: Kru Owner Aims for Expansion, Again

Big changes are coming for Kru owner Billy Ngo, scoops the Sac Bee's Blair Anthony Robertson.

Already considered one of the most innovative chefs in town, Ngo is looking for a larger building to move Kru. Though he would not provide specifics and said a lease has not been signed, it appears he is close to sealing a deal.

When Kru moves, Ngo explained, he will keep the current location (2516 J St.) and renovate it in preparation for a new sushi-only concept that is intended to showcase the craft at the very highest levels. This new restaurant will be given a new name, yet to be made public.

Further, Ngo is in line to open a new “grab-and-go” sushi eatery in the artist lofts building under construction on R Street (at 11th Street). He expects that project to open by the end of the year. It will feature hand-crafted sushi made in advance and packaged for take-out. The restaurant will be called Fish Face.

Yap, who has already started at Kru, has ambitious plans of his own to work in conjunction with Ngo to bring Kru to a new level with sushi. That is saying plenty. Kru earned four stars (out of four) in The Bee and is widely considered one of the best and most exciting food experiences around.

Read the entire story in the Sac Bee.

Robertson also reports that Ngo has hired a new chef for Kru, Ricky Yap, who left San Francisco's Akiko's Restaurant in July. Akiko's has been named one of the San Francisco's Chronicle's Top 100 Bay Area Restaurants.

I wish Ngo good luck, but he has a spotty track record when it comes to additional ventures beyond Kru. He opened Red Lotus in 2010 in the spot now successfully occupied by Red Rabbit, only to have Red Lotus shut down in Sept. 2011.

He and Aimal Formoli's jointly opened Pork Belly Grub Shack in Nov. 2011, only to sell the restaurant in 2012.

Ngo is one of the nicest chefs I've ever encountered both at his restaurant and at food events around town. Hopefully things are different this time. The economy's better now than it was when he opened his last two ventures and he's hired a new chef for Kru so he can spend more time on his new venture.

More News:

Ella bartender wins blue ribbon at Midtown Cocktail Week competition - Chris Dooley of Ella Dining Room & Bar (pictured above) emerged from Midtown Cocktail Week’s cocktail competition $1,000 richer on Tuesday night at Harlow’s. His drink, an elaborately presented “Bloomsbury Bramble” which was surrounded by orchids and looked like a scene from “Fantasy Island,” topped all contendors. The eight bartenders duking it out cocktail style were actually the finalists from a pool of 24 hopefuls who competed in a preliminary round on Aug. 11. All hopefuls were required to use Tanqueray No. TEN gin in their drink. I helped determine the winner Tuesday night in a judging panel that included Jayson Wilde, a Shady Lady alum and current general manager of Bourbon and Branch in San Francisco, Rick Dobbs (owner of The Last Word in Livermore) and Tanqueray national brand ambassador (and former Sacramentan) Rachel Ford. Chris Macias in the Sac Bee.

Hot idea: Chicken wing festival coming to Sacramento - Bone-in or boneless? That might be the question of the day on Aug. 23, when Sacramento hosts its first-ever chicken wing festival at Fremont Park. Sactown Wings will combine music, games, beer and, of course, chicken wings. Sonya Sorich in Sac Biz Journal.

Krush Burger opened in Roseville - If you're looking to change your dining routine this week, you're in luck. On Monday, Krush Burger opened its newest location at the Westfield Galleria at Roseville. The restaurant is located between Ruth's Chris Steak House and Brooks Brothers in the Galleria's Promenade area. It's the third California location for Krush Burger, which has restaurants in Davis and Sacramento. Krush Burger also has a Dubai restaurant. Sonya Sorich in Sac Biz Journal.

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Dining News: Cafe a Cote to Replace Gallagher's at 12th & K


Last week, we found out that Brasserie Capitale will replace The Broiler. But the owner of The Broiler also ran Gallagher's across the lobby from The Broiler. Now, we know what will happen with the other half of that restaurant equation.

A new cafe is set to open a block away from the Capitol in the space that previously housed Gallagher's Irish Pub at 1201 K Street...Aziz Belarbi-Salah, who co-owns Aioli restaurant with his father, plans to open Café À Côté this summer. "We plan to serve morning coffee and pastries, bistro-style lunches and wine in the evening," said Belarbi-Salah.

Read the entire entry in the Capitol Morning Report (subscription required).

More News:

Sam’s Kosher Style deli in Fair Oaks closing on St. Patrick’s Day - Sam’s Kosher Style Restaurant & Deli in Fair Oaks, known for its super-size sandwiches and local roots stretching back more than 50 years, will close at the end of business next Monday, St. Patrick’s Day. Owner Bruce Blackman, 70, cited personal and health reasons for closing the business, adding: “St. Patrick’s Day has always been my best day, so I thought I might as well go out with a bang." Mark Glover in the Sac Bee.

More cupcake shops for Sacramento? - A baker featured on the Food Network thinks there's room for more cupcake shops in the Sacramento market. Arleen Scavone, CEO and founder of Sweet Arleen's, wants to bring two of her cupcake shops to the Sacramento region within the next two years. She said she's especially interested in potential locations in Roseville, Citrus Heights and North Highlands. Sonya Sorich in Sac Biz Journal.

Hand-crafted food prepared with fresh and local ingredients - Selland’s Market-Café, on the corner of H Street and El Dorado Way, stays true to its name by combining a fresh marketplace feel with a warm and friendly café. Kelly Tao and Daisy Aguilar in the Sac State Hornet.

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Photo: Where the Fire Started at Ella


There was a kitchen fire at Ella on Saturday afternoon, which caused it to be closed from Saturday through lunch service on Monday. They reopened for business tonight for a private event. I was lucky enough to attend that private event, and the picture abovie is of where the fire started.

As you can see there's not much damage in the broiler where the fire started. I checked in with Josh Nelson, co-founder and CFO of the Selland Group, and he told me it was just a grease fire.

While it's unfortunate there was a fire, I'm glad there wasn't any more damage done to the restaurant.

Feel free to start eating and drinking at one of Sacramento's best restaurants and happy hours again.

Dining News: Weekend Fire Shuts Down Ella, Hopes to Reopen on Monday


Ella, the Downtown outpost of the Selland's restaurant empire at 12th & K, had a small kitchen fire on Saturday that caused the restaurant to shut down over the weekend, reports the Sac Bee's Blair Anthony Robertson.

The blaze was quickly extinguished, but not before the Ansul System, with nozzles installed over the cooking surfaces, went into action, spraying a green viscous retardant throughout the large kitchen.

No one was injured and there was no structural damage to the multimillion-dollar restaurant, which is widely admired for its interior design.

According to Robertson, being closed for Saturday evening cost Ella more than $30,000 in revenue. Also, noted by the Sac Bee's Chris Macias on Twitter:

On Monday evening, Ella hosts a private event, one of the many Back to [legislative] Session Bashes. I snagged a ticket through my Day Job and will report back if there's any visible damage.

Read the entire story in the Sac Bee.

The most recent high profile restaurant that I can remember closing due to fire was Mikuni's Fair Oaks location at the end of 2012. That fire, which caused much more damage, closed the sushi joint for more than 2 months.

* Edited to add bit about Mikuni.

More News:

Mother is a Game Changer for Sacramento - Mother (1023 K Street)  is a new vegetarian restaurant in downtown Sacramento that offers (affordable) seasonal and fresh fare, with loads of gluten-free and vegan options. They strive to offer “southern american cooking featuring dishes that will undoubtedly play with the nostalgia receptors in your brain. The food is rustic, dynamic, and unfussy.” In reality, their food is so good that you forget it’s vegetarian, which (for us) makes it a game-changer in Sacramento’s culinary scene. Laura Braden and Lisa Murphy on Girls on the Grid.

Looking forward to pork at Block Butcher Bar - Block Butcher Bar is a salumeria and craft cocktail bar under construction next to LowBrau, the popular beer hall and sausage parlor at 20th and K streets in midtown Sacramento. Block Butcher Bar is funded by the entrepreneurs behind LowBrau and helmed by Sacramento chef Michael Tuohy, formerly of Grange and most recently overseer of farm-based dinners. When it opens later this month or early next month, Block Butcher Bar will be three operations in one 1,100-square-foot space: a processor producing fresh sausages for use at LowBrau; a restaurant and bar serving dry-cured meats, sausages, sandwiches, cocktails, beer and wine; and a retail counter selling grab-and-go salumi combos; sausages and cured meats by the pound; and cuts of fresh pork. Ed Murrieta in Sac Biz Journal.

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