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Garlic Shack brings zesty flavor to Midtown

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A late-night eatery celebrating the virtue and flavor of garlic is expected to open soon on J Street – replacing Plum Blossom, which mysteriously closed this week.

The Garlic Shack will offer a funky, low-key vibe, with an under-$15 menu starring garlic in everything from Caribbean rice bowls and burgers to dessert, said owner Ken Powers.

"It’s going to be a fun place to come eat some food, drink some beer," he said. "Almost everything we have will have garlic in it."

After 20 years in the food industry, Powers is opening his first restaurant on a prime Midtown corner at 18th and J streets. The Sierra foothills resident has mainly worked at restaurants in the foothills and the Sierra Nevada, such as the restaurant at Rainbow Lodge. He also owns a garden store in Lake of the Pines.

On Friday afternoon, Powers and a crew of workers were busy cleaning and preparing for a renovation. A garage door will be installed in front, and a server station will be removed from the dining room. The restaurant will be able to seat 50 to 60 people inside and about 20 outside, with an indoor-outdoor dining room when the garage door is open, he said.

The interior will be painted gold and different shades of red. Powers is hiring Sacramento artist Mikey Dwitt, who’s also a tattoo artist, to paint a giant garlic man in silver and white on an interior wall and possibly smaller "garlic dudes" in a bunch of other places.

"It’ll be really sweet," Powers said.

No one could be tracked down to explain why Plum Blossom closed. Signs were put up as early as Tuesday announcing the Asian restaurant had closed.

The Midtown Business Association hasn’t been able to locate the business owners or the owners of the property.

"We heard nothing. I was completely surprised when I walked by," MBA Executive Director Rob Kerth said Friday.

The Garlic Shack’s menu is still being developed and will include vegetarian items, soups, salads, rice bowls, burgers, entrees, appetizers and dessert. Items include a Caribbean rice bowl featuring pork, yams and black beans; a portabello Reuben with mushrooms replacing meat and garlic cheesecake. The items will range from $3 to $14.

The Garlic Shack is expected to open in mid- to late March. The restaurant will be open daily. Hours will be 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday or Thursday. Hours on Friday and Saturday, and possibly Thursday, will be 11 a.m. – 2 a.m. or "whenever people stop coming in," Powers said.

He hopes to create a "very homey" ambiance for diners with details like serving beer in tall cans, which he’s still exploring to see if he can make happen.

"We want to make you feel at home," he said.


Suzanne Hurt is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press. Follow her on Twitter @SuzanneHurt. 

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Suzanne Hurt

  • Lindol French

    awesome. Plum Blossom was kinda garbage, but I still fell for it every so often. I always regretted it. If a recipe calls for 1 garlic clove, I use five. Garlic, for the win.

  • William Burg

    Glad to hear they will still be open late, at least on weekends–we have lost many late-night options over the years and it’s good to have somewhere for us night owls to nosh.

    • oh make sure you remind everyone they stop serving alcohol after 2 am!!

  • Welcome news. Of course what downtown really needs is a Jewish Deli which seems to be still in the future. But this might do in the meantime.

  • As I say with every new restaurant , please please forgo the flat screen tv syndrome. Be original!


  • Minor location detail, Plum Blossom is at the corner of 19th & J not 18th. Glad to see the space will not be vacant and looking forward to trying it out. Also glad to see a reasonable price point. And Rob Kerth of MBA is not the king of Midtown.

  • Kenny cooked for me in my restaurant for many years up in Nevada City. He has an artful flair for food like no other. I have never eaten anything of his that I did not love. I`ll do everything I can to help him on the business end. If you like good grub, Go get it! Good luck Kenny!

  • You Go Ken! I have been fortunate enough to enjoy Kenny’s cooking for years. He loves cooking and you can tell. If any cook can make a great restaurant, Kenny can.

  • Kenny’s food is amazing. This is so awesome that he is opening up his own restuarant.

  • Hi Cousin Kenny,
    Gwen told me you are opening your own restaurant. I know you will be successful, you are a GREAT cook. You are ambitious, smart, hard worker + being a fabulous cook. I am very proud of you. I would like to make a reservation for next Thanksgiving. Luv u!!!

  • Melanie Smith

    A portobello Reuben with mushrooms replacing meat? Yummmmm. I can hardly wait!

  • Thanks for treating vegetarians with equal attention!

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