Fall opening expected for Dive Bar

Dive Bar and two sister nightlife venues are expected to open within three months on K Street, breathing new life into the struggling pedestrian mall well ahead of other developments.

San Francisco nightclub operator George Karpaty’s trio of nightlife venues has been seen as competition by some at a time when local businesses continue to struggle and even close. Karpaty said he was lured to Sacramento partly by the success of nearby venues such as Social Nightclub, Ella, Grange and the Citizen Hotel.

But Karpaty said he’s developed concepts — a "mermaid bar," a gourmet pizza restaurant with acrobatic pizza tossers and a high-end, over-30 dance club — to further develop K Street Mall into an entertainment district and to bring people from as far away as the Sierra Nevada foothills. He’s using expertise gained from opening places like Ruby Skye and Slide, popular bars that draw Sacramentans to San Francisco.

"We’re going to blow K Street up," said Karpaty, owner of Inner Circle Entertainment. "We’re not bad guys. We’re going to promote downtown."

Karpaty and his crews were working Thursday at the site, one week after the Sacramento City Council chose developer David Taylor and another development team to redevelop vacant properties for two nearby blocks. While those mixed-use projects are expected to bring much-needed retail and housing to the street, they aren’t expected to open for at least two years.

Karpaty’s concepts will be new to Sacramento. He’s also pioneering some nightclub operations in this city that he’ll then use at his other establishments.

Dive Bar, at 1016 K St., will feature a 40-foot-long, 7,500-gallon saltwater tank with fish and costumed mermaids, both male and female, set over the bar in a room just 18 feet across. Structural steel beams have been installed on the ground floor and in the basement to hold up the tank and reinforce the floor underneath.

"It’s the most insane thing I ever took on," Karpaty said. “If a massive earthquake hits Sacramento, this aquarium will be the only thing left standing.”

The front of the bar is being built to evoke a classic Sacramento dive bar, complete with worn-looking couches. But beyond a giant “hole” in the back wall, the club opens into a main room topped by the aquarium, which is being fabricated from a single piece of Plexiglas by a former Monterey Bay Aquarium builder.

"The fish tank won’t look like anything else in the world," Karpaty said. "I’m not into starfish and treasure chests."

Next door, Pizza Rock will feature a DJ playing classic to modern and funky rock from a California-made Peterbilt truck breaking through the ceiling 15 feet in the air and surrounded by chain-link fencing and barbed wire.

World pizza-throwing champ Tony Gemignani, a partner at the restaurant, will train the staff to juggle dough, while bartenders will juggle bottles and glasses.

The ceiling will be covered with a mural that mimics Michelangelo’s "The Creation of Adam" — but the hand of God will be holding an electric guitar. The men’s bathroom will feature exterior piping and graffiti to make it appear that guys are “peeing in the alley,” Karpaty said.

But the food will still steal the show, Karpaty said. Four types of pizzas will be made in four different custom-built pizza ovens imported from Italy. One of the ovens, positioned near the sidewalk for high visibility, will cook pizzas at 900 degrees – in 90 seconds.

"It comes down to food," he said. "I guarantee our food will exceed any theme."

The third venue, District 30, at 1022 K St., will be the most modern of the venues. An artistic glass facade will use movable photos of art, flowers and people, set behind 4-x-4-foot glass panels to create the front exterior. A covered patio in front will open onto a sidewalk seating area.

Inside, a 600-square-foot dance floor will share space with a 30-foot bar, "ultra" VIP areas and "peek-a-boo" booths with small cutouts in the backs so customers can interact and people watch. The club will hold up to 300. Finishes will be created with exotic materials including woods from Japan and France and ostrich skin.

The bar will use music to attract a crowd of mature, experienced clientele aged 30 to 50. The idea was to create a place for people who want to have fun and socialize, and who know how to have a good time without causing trouble, he said, adding that people shouldn’t have to stop going to dance clubs just because they may no longer be in their 20s.

"Why is it that, when you turn 30, you can’t go to a dance club? That’s just nutty," he said. "People will look at this and go — ‘Oh, finally: Something for grownups.’ "

Last February, Karpaty said he expected all three venues to be open by late summer. They are now expected to open in October. Work by the Sacramento Municipal Utility District to add an electrical transformer to power the buildings in an underground vault under the sidewalk in front is delaying the opening by a few weeks, Karpaty said.

SMUD is waiting for the customer to finish work on the vault and then will install the transformer, said SMUD spokeswoman Dace Udris.

Karpaty will be leasing three spaces at 1016, 1020 and 1022 K St. from developer David Taylor. Taylor is redeveloping the long-vacant building, as well as one next door at 1012 K St., with $5.7 million in city subsidies tied to the sale of the Sheraton Hotel. Karpaty plans to invest up to $2 million on the venues, he said Thursday.

In 2008, the city agreed to split $50 million in profits from the sale of the $130 million hotel with Taylor and CIM for development in the J, K and L streets corridor. The developers are still pursuing tenants for 1012 K St. Taylor also turned an old Woolworth’s into the Cosmopolitan next door.

Karpaty and a friend, Adam Goldstein — a Los Angeles DJ and musician known as DJ AM — began looking for opportunities to open an entertainment venue here three years ago. Their idea was to open a megaclub. They toured dozens of Sacramento clubs and bars for six months while searching for the right spot.

"We saw opportunities other people didn’t," Karpaty said.

Goldstein died of a drug overdose last summer. But Karpaty didn’t give up. The broker who originally helped them in their quest called back to suggest Taylor’s project on K Street. The ability of nearby venues to thrive — even though they were the first few to open on and around the long-troubled pedestrian mall — told him Sacramento had "an appetite for high-end (even) in a horrible economy," Karpaty said.

"We didn’t want to wait to be the last one on the island," he said.


Photos by Suzanne Hurt, a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press.

Conversation Express your views, debate, and be heard with those in your area closest to the issue. RSS Feed

July 23, 2010 | 1:35 AM

This is the most detailed and informative article I’ve read yet about this new development on the K Street Mall–and I’m more interested in the venues after reading it. Sounds like Karpaty has a real sense of fun (and the importance of the food being good, too), so I hope it’s contagious and the businesses are a hit when they open. The playfulness of the venues should fit right into a just-prior-to-Halloween opening, when most folks are in a lighthearted mood as it is.

July 23, 2010 | 2:24 AM

this sounds like hell. But, hey, we need something for everyone.

July 23, 2010 | 10:37 AM

Yes, I’ve been waiting for establishments to feature an earthquake-proof fish tank, a rock ‘n’ roll Michelangelo, juggling bartenders, mermaids, fake alleyways, ultra vip booths and ostrich skin!

Even after these gimmick-holes close down, the scent of cheap cologne and date rape will linger in Sacramento for years to come.

July 23, 2010 | 10:41 AM

Odd and unique concepts. Totally bold and bizarre enough that I can’t wait to see it happen.

Sometimes the best places are “love it or hate it” and these seem to be heading in that direction.

Profile photo of ccc
July 23, 2010 | 10:43 AM

is it April 1st?

July 23, 2010 | 11:00 AM

If you’ve read anything about the K Street Mall’s struggles for the past few…decades (yes, I said decades…), you’ll understand that ANYthing that brings life to it after 5pm should be welcomed. The core of our downtown is hurting, and has been for a…long…time. Do I think these are the perfect venues for my taste? Nope, but I will support and give them a chance to entertain and feed me, because I’d like to see them succeed and perk up that stretch of the Mall. The Cosmo complex, Crest Theatre, and the various restaurants immediately surrounding the new venues deserve and could use the lively company after 5pm. You’re forgetting that it’s reported Karpaty has a track record of success, and obviously is trying to bring fun and energy to the area. The venues, if they’re not overpriced and featuring lackluster food, sound like they could serve and appeal to a wide variety of people. His emphasis seems to be on people gathering together to have some fun and maybe even be a bit silly while doing so (is that so bad?). Give it a chance instead of sitting at your computer and tearing things down before they even open. You might actually enjoy yourself and meet people you’d enjoy spending time with–away from your computer.

Profile photo of ccc
July 23, 2010 | 11:44 AM

“The bar will use music to attract a crowd of mature, experienced clientele aged 30 to 50. The idea was to create a place for people who want to have fun and socialize, and who know how to have a good time without causing trouble, he said, adding that people shouldn’t have to stop going to dance clubs just because they may no longer be in their 20s. ”

Does that sound like a wide variety of people? Didn’t think so. It is ironically puerile and stuffy, and is basically saying that unless you are over 30 with some money to blow, beat it kid. “Without causing trouble”? wow! a little morality lesson to go with your vip lounge, eh? I am 40 and that irks me even. I am all for K street trying to get a life, but this is not the way to do it.

Profile photo of P W
July 23, 2010 | 12:10 PM

I understand that a shuffle board parlor will be opening next door. Perhaps that will appease some of those with a less-adventurous spirit. (I’ll have an Ensure, please. Neat.)

July 23, 2010 | 12:26 PM

Dive bar Schmive bar. Karpaty would do better by opening a Jewish Delicatessen! Cantor’s North! Carnegie West?

July 23, 2010 | 2:38 PM

That’s a great idea, Brooks. Karpaty already seems kinda busy, but perhaps YOU could start making that happen?

July 23, 2010 | 12:38 PM

Again, why can’t you wait to see what the vibe actually turns out to be before condemning it? I mean, wow, you’re already saying “this is not the way to do it,” and you’ve not even seen the inside of the venue yet? I’m not saying I’m going to love and support all 3 venues long-term no matter what they turn out to be and do, just that I want to give them a chance, and that I do hope they’re successful and liven up the after-5pm energy of that area in a positive way, even if one or more turns out to be places I don’t happen to enjoy. Yes, I agree it’s not fun to see someone automatically imply that bar crowds in their 20′s are bad news and cause trouble–obviously not always the case–but I “get” the idea of having a club that people over 30 feel comfortable in as well. Many dance clubs do feel unwelcoming as you age, and people fall away from getting out and dancing, which IS a drag. (Although, to be fair, in Sacramento there are plenty of clubs where young folks don’t exactly glare at you or make fun if you do dance and are “aged.”) If anything, I thought it was a bit weird that he put a cap on people who would enjoy the venue after age 50! Guess I should consider now opening a dance club for those 50 and up!

July 23, 2010 | 2:44 PM

Friendly Dogs, couldn’t agree with you more.

All the Danny Downers stay in Downville, Urban Sacramento does not need foes like you.

As an Urban Dweller I would like to thank Karpath & his associates for their vision & appreciation of Sacramento. I look forward to enjoying these establishments.

Le Chaim!


July 23, 2010 | 2:48 PM


July 23, 2010 | 4:13 PM

Just FYI: you can edit your comment if you want to fix a typo – there is a little edit button on your comments when you are logged in.

July 23, 2010 | 3:40 PM

I have mixed feelings but overall am excited to see anything big and exciting go into K St. Seems like the kind of place I would go into once and never go back. But on the other hand if K Street is jamming and exciting it would be a great place to take out of town visitors.. see some dough being tossed and mermaid hotties before escaping to the Pyramid.

And that’s what really concerns me. Places like Pyramid stuck there neck out to open on a dead street, and you have to wonder how long they can hold out. Investing that much into a business that closes at 9pm or whatever can cause some cash flow problems. For the same reason it’s too bad the Hard Rock couldnt hold out for a bit longer. People need to go somehwere to hear Led Zeppelin covers, it might as well be K Street.

July 23, 2010 | 5:17 PM

Not another bar! Give me a break! If you want downtown to flourish, make the area functional for the people who live there. There are more bars downtown than Starbucks, McDonald’s, Burger King and Subway outposts combined! Give me a break! I suppose Karpaty could always remake the bar into a hooka lounge or marijuana dispensary if his first concept fails. This makes me sick.

July 25, 2010 | 8:48 AM

When I do a snapshot inventory of the folks who live on my block, about 75% do not drink booze at all. (I have not been in a bar in 30 years)

July 23, 2010 | 7:15 PM

It’ll be interesting to see whether the gimmickry on K St. can draw crowds away from what looks like a much more sustainable scene developing in Midtown. Both the 20th & K and 18th & Capitol scenes have established followings who can count on their venues to be there day after day and night after night. I’m not sure these K St. concepts have the same long-term viablity, but I’m sure they’ll have strong opening days and strong first quarter financial performance.

July 24, 2010 | 6:18 PM

Both of those scenes took a long time to appear–it wasn’t that many years ago that the only thing “happening” at 18th and Capitol was Java City, and it was that way for a decade before Paesano’s opened and about another decade before Zocalo opened. Most of the supposedly well-established “18th & Capitol scene” is just a couple of years old. As to 20th & K, most of that is new too–Faces and the Western were there, but everything else is very recent. MARRS was a warehouse turned office building, vacant at night. And a lot of people thought that those ideas were silly too–most people still assumed Midtown was scary and run-down until suddenly the rest of the region “discovered” it.

I don’t think that downtown’s new venues will take away from those established scenes–it will add to a greater whole, and start attracting people who currently don’t stop in downtown Sacramento at all, because they assume there isn’t enough here worthy of their attention.

July 24, 2010 | 8:25 AM

Hey we’d all probably want something more K Street but maybe we can all agree that at least it’s better than a boarded up storefront that smells of piss?

July 24, 2010 | 6:16 PM

Depends on whether you have a vested interest in parts of the city other than downtown…

July 24, 2010 | 11:45 AM

Wow!!! Never seen such a bunch of complainers. What have any of you done for the city of Sacramento lately or for that fact ever? Would you rather your teen kids go underground or to a fun pizza joint that plays music and is trendy? Would you rather convention business go to other markets or be lured to Sacramento because it has nightlife and an active downtown? We complain about the economy and lack of jobs yet put down business men such as Karpaty who bust their ass to make something happen. Do you have any idea the amount of energy and time, not to mention money, it takes to put a project like this together? Karpaty is very well respected in the restaurant and entertainment industry, his operations in the bay area are praised by law enforcement and government officials because of his venues standards. Ruby Skye has been in business for 15 years and while Aura has not been as successful as his other establishments he never lowered those standards for the sake of simply selling booze. Do your homework people before you comment or stand up and do something for your city rather than complaining about progress.

July 24, 2010 | 12:51 PM

As long as the city council is greenlighting far-out projects, the BoqueriaCA would have been much more functional for the downtown community than the decadent debached excess of Kapaty. Downtown is lacking ESSENTIALS and yet Kapaty wants to widen Sacramento’s red light district? That he’s part of David Taylor’s development mafia makes want to move out of Sacramento.

July 24, 2010 | 6:16 PM

cam8008: You are aware that this project isn’t where the “Boqueria” was going to be, right?

Profile photo of ccc
July 25, 2010 | 5:09 PM

not a big fan of this, but if dude wants to try it why not? but don’t portray him to be a saint or do-gooder. a few things:
1.developers are ultimately motivated by greed and profit. no one made this dude bust his ass but him so I don’t buy into your hero worship.

2.more bars does not necessarily constitute progress.

3. how long before the novelty wears off?

January 17, 2011 | 2:06 AM

I cant wait for it to open. i love brick pizza especially when i can watch them throw it in the air. thats exciting to me, better than dlivery. I love dancing and im fourty so i like the age thing .and i love aquariums and mermaids. so youll probably see me there. mabey even in the tank. sincerly Kimberlie jean . sierra foothills

July 24, 2010 | 12:25 PM

Trendy just means that it will be laughable in five years. This project, however, is laughable right now.

July 26, 2010 | 10:30 AM

Why are proprietors always looking for goofy gimmicks to lure people from far away, rather than create something that attracts those who are already here? Maybe they’re the ones with the inferiority complex.

July 26, 2010 | 12:03 PM

How can you open a new bar and call it a dive bar!!!! too many gimicks, give me a break.
K street mall has been the pitts for decads and will continue to be.

July 27, 2010 | 9:00 PM

Calling it “Dive Bar” is meant to amuse on two levels: the entrance is said to mimic the look of a downtrodden dive bar, with worn couches and such, but then, just past that, it opens up to a bar with a huge tank of water with diving mermaids and mermen (sp?), a whole new way to look at the term “dive bar.” You can say gimmick, sure, but I say “cute and funny.” Like fuzzy slippers.

July 26, 2010 | 5:05 PM

“Gimmicks; Inferiority complex; The pits; Laughable; Novelty wears off”:What the HELL is wrong with you people! Get out there & MAKE ANSWERS for Sacramento. You Danny Downers have provided so much negativity but have yet to provide solutions.?! What is wrong with you people? SMH
Be happy for the work to ensue, K Street will no longer be Blight Street.

July 26, 2010 | 8:20 PM

DS you don’t know who or what you’re ranting about.

July 27, 2010 | 9:03 PM

Actually, I thought DS was pretty clear at who and what he is ranting about. He’s tired of everyone pissing on something they haven’t even seen yet, and encouraging them to come up with their own venues if they don’t like the ones being built!

July 27, 2010 | 9:48 PM

he has his head up his assumptions

July 27, 2010 | 9:27 AM

Dive Bar?!? What’s next? A tony “foodie” restaurant called “Greasy Spoon”?

Seriously, I appreciate the imagination and creativity that went into this, but I’m guessing that this project is far too whimsical to succeed in Sacramento. It lacks the durable solidity of our transplanted-to-California Midwestern ethos. And the idea of making it appear that “guys are peeing in the alley”? Hey, let’s strip-mine the tragedy of chronic alcoholism so we can up the coolness factor in our groovy new nightspot. Winos and homeless people are sooooo funny.

These ideas read more like a series of cocktail napkin proposals from a drug- and single malt Scotch-fueled night at Parlare or Grange or wherever it is the so-called creatives are congregating these days than something that actually might fly. I mean, it’s entertaining to read, but come on. Let’s get real here.

As it stands, that proposal sounds more like production notes for a big-budget Arco Arena-sized roadshow to stage a Village People revival than something I’d want to visit. Then again, guys like me aren’t in the target audience of “Dive Bar.” But stil ….

July 27, 2010 | 9:08 PM

I’m not really into “tony foodie” restaurants, being more a Burger Inn (independently-owned burger joint on K Street I happen to frequent) kinda guy, but I chuckled at the idea of one called “Greasy Spoon.” Thanks!

July 27, 2010 | 9:47 AM

Unless the light rail and other public transportation becomes available to suburb dwellers after 7:00 p.m., it’s unlikely –and unwise — that folks will come to K Street from those areas to party in the evening.

July 27, 2010 | 11:40 AM

Right on!!!

July 27, 2010 | 9:15 PM

Not clear on what you’re saying here: do you mean that a suburb-dweller shouldn’t drive downtown after dark? Because you perceive it to be what? Dangerous? Compared to, say, driving to Arden Fair Mall, parking in the hinterlands of the gigantic parking lot and making their way to a restaurant there? I’ve lived downtown for a long time now, and, frankly, I feel more in danger in the suburbs, or wading through the sea of cars at Arden Fair. Or are you saying they shouldn’t come downtown because it would be wasteful in terms of energy use or because it’s too hard to park down here? Frankly, it’s a hop, skip and jump for most folks to come downtown because of the surrounding freeways (where they get great gas mileage compared to the stop and go driving in the burbs), and the parking, especially in the K Street area, is easy as pie after 5:00 pm–the place is vacated when the 5pm whistle blows, and the many city parking garages (and city streets with free parking) are wide open most nights.

July 27, 2010 | 11:23 AM

This has something for everyone. The nouveau-chic developers in Midtown sniff with disgust about homeless people pissing in the alleys. Over-impacted Midtown residents complain about marauding “high end” drunks pissing in their yards and on their homes.

Now the two streams of thought meet on K; as Jackson points out: “Hey, let’s strip-mine the tragedy of chronic alcoholism so we can up the coolness factor in our groovy new nightspot. Winos and homeless people are sooooo funny.”

“The ceiling will be covered with a mural that mimics Michelangelo’s “The Creation of Adam” — but the hand of God will be holding an electric guitar. The men’s bathroom will feature exterior piping and graffiti to make it appear that guys are “peeing in the alley,” Karpaty said.”

A “world class city” developer is delivering to Sacramento a spendy spectacle; trendy, tacky and time-stamped for planned obsolescence, on the eternally out-of-synch K Street? Was The City By The Bay all out of actual sophistication and “class” to send over a sampling?

Well, if Dive Bar doesn’t work out, the City can turn it into that aquarium idea, that was supposed to resurrect Sacramento back in the 90′s.

July 27, 2010 | 11:25 AM

In all honesty, they need to stick to the basics, good food, beer and good music.

The music part is probably the hardest to put together, but there really is not a great music scene
here. Most of the venues seem way too tight to really accomodate a band and if it does it seems give off that stuffy/pretentious air to it.

These places they are proposing fit the the stuffy/pretentious variety. They need to quit trying to make Sacramento a cultural center with stylized bars.

Get back to basics…

July 27, 2010 | 11:43 AM

Sac can’t sustain all these bar. Most people living downtown are check to check.

December 29, 2010 | 8:05 PM

I imagine that Mr. Karpaty, with considerable experience in owning and managing bars in San Francisco and the East Bay, would not have invested millions of dollars if he didn’t think he could make a profit. On what do you base your assertion? I live downtown and I don’t live to check to check. Nor do a lot of people I know who live downtown.

July 28, 2010 | 2:13 PM

No, I’m saying if you come downtown from the suburbs to “party,” you must stay sober because there’s no public transportation to get you home, a cab ride would cost a fortune and you sure don’t want to drink and drive.

July 31, 2010 | 3:58 AM

Thanks for clarifying–I absolutely agree that no one should drink and drive. So yes, you do have a point if you’re coming downtown solo, but why not invite friends and just make sure one’s a designated driver? In my life experience I’m usually the “chosen one,” and most of the time it’s added fun seeing your friends drunk when you’re sober! Makes for great morning-after chats…

December 28, 2010 | 7:56 PM

when does dive bar open??? does anyone know? i cant wait to check it out:)

December 29, 2010 | 8:02 PM

There is still no absolutely firm date, but mid-January is the projection, with Pizza Rock first on January 14 and the other two following on January 19. Lots of moving pieces to manage, I can’t even imagine, but we’re close!

January 18, 2011 | 10:06 AM

My wife and I made a special trip from Elk Grove to the Dive Bar and the Pizza Rock on Monday, February 17th. and they were closed! They have been advertising galore with customers eating pizza and drinking, but why did they have to close on Mondays? Specially on a holiday (MLK)?

January 18, 2011 | 10:41 AM

i like the way this man George Karpaty thinks, he has an open mind, determination and faith in what he’s doing.he had a dream and he’s making it a reality.we could learn something from this man.If you have a great idea. or a dream in your head put it on paper and start laying some brick down. make it happen.

January 21, 2011 | 9:50 AM

Racism @ The Dive Bar!

My white boyfriend, a few of my female friends and myself got in without a problem. However, my friend, who happens to be Black, was rejected. He was told his pants were too big. That’s not true; he was dressed very nice with tight fitting clothing, nice dress shoes, and a collared plaid shirt. There were several white men inside with baggy jeans in casual attire (hoodie sweater and sneakers). When I asked the bouncer why he let them in, he sarcastically said, “oh, it must have slipped my mind.” He didn’t let four other Black men in either. After personally speaking with the bouncer Leeroy and the manager Dave, it was evident they were racists! This place is going to close soon! Discrimination based on race, or any other factor is completely unacceptable!

February 2, 2011 | 9:59 AM

I like this idea it brings a nice taste to the Sacramento area, it’s just what we needed and more hopefully soon. It brings Sacramento to life and shows energy. The Mermaid idea is a sweetened vision of a new look for Sacramento. Thank you for the excitement!!!

February 2, 2011 | 10:05 AM

The hours that I have seen was 7 days a week and noon – 3 a.m.

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