Tuesday, February 01, 2011

K Street Comeback?

Has it finally happened, the right combination of current projects and soon-to-become projects creating the destination entertainment/restaurant hub envisioned for years?

We certainly hope so, but after all the years of redevelopment drama, we will have to wait a little longer to say, with any confidence, yes.

An excerpt from the recent article in the Sacramento Bee.

“Maybe you've heard about the mermaid? (She can smile underwater while bubbles come out of her nose.)

“Perhaps you've heard about the mammoth truck coming out of the wall? (I sat at the bar under the ultraclean chassis and lived to tell about it.)

“And surely you've heard about the millions in city funds spent on rehabilitating a section of downtown Sacramento's K Street that used to be really dead (and a tad scary).

“Yes, Pizza Rock and the Dive Bar right next door have opened with a flourish and, yes, they have rejuvenated the block faster than you can say, "Hold the anchovies."

“We made two trips there in recent days to gather a few impressions and see whether all that work, all that money and all that water in the mermaid tank have been worth it. The project is spearheaded by Bay Area impressario George Karpaty, who doesn't just dream – he dreams big.

“On our first visit, on a Sunday night, I was startled to see the K Street Mall teeming with energy, even if the Broiler and Ella Dining Room and Bar were closed.

“Inside, Pizza Rock was packed with folks of all ages. The music was upbeat and spanned the spectrum from old favorites to new hits. I remember Neil Diamond followed by Pearl Jam.

“On our next visit, a Tuesday, there was a 30-minute wait for a table. This, in a once-dilapidated building that sat empty for two decades while everyone debated how K Street should be revived.

“Pizza and mermaids and millions are not the entire answer, but they are certainly giving the K Street Mall an oversize dose of momentum. Nearby Ambrosia Cafe, a popular spot for lunch and breakfast, has already announced it will stay open most nights until 11:30 and focus on serving desserts.

“On our Tuesday visit, we took a short stroll with a Pizza Rock beeper in hand while waiting for our table. Looking around the area, we were able to see the pieces coming together. Just around the corner, on 10th Street toward J Street, were Temple Coffee and Grange Restaurant & Bar in the Citizen Hotel, which was also part of a restoration story. Also in the mix was Bud's Buffet, the legendary lunch spot that could and should become a really cool late-night hangover-abatement eatery. The Cosmopolitan. The Crest Theatre. The Esquire Imax. Pyramid Alehouse. Esquire Grill.

“There's a movement afoot. It's not a full-fledged entertainment district yet, but it's beginning to look and feel like one.”