The Golden Bear expands its territory

The space that formerly housed Hangar 17 in Midtown has been taken over by owners of The Golden Bear, who plan to bring a “grown-up” version of their neighborhood bar and restaurant to the area.

“We’ve been looking for a second location for quite a while,” said The Golden Bear co-owner Kimio Bazett. “It was preferably in Midtown and preferably a space that was built-out or established or had some unique architecture.”

Hangar 17 closed in March, and the space still had all of its restaurant equipment intact, which saved a huge expense, he said.

The approximately 4,000-square-foot building at 1630 S St. has about half of its space dedicated to the kitchen, an aspect Bazett said was important.

“A bar is what we know, but food will be an integral part of it,” he said. “One thing we were not really able to do (at The Golden Bear) is stretch our legs and show what we can do with the food.”

Bazett and his business partner, Jon Modrow, showed off their love of food with The Golden Bear’s inclusion on the Food Network show “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” last fall.

Some crossover with the food at The Golden Bear can be expected, but no menus have been set for the new space, which does not yet have a name.

“It will be a fairly different business, but it’s nice to pay homage,” he said, referring to The Golden Bear, which opened about seven years ago.

The targeted opening date is sometime in February, and Bazett said there is still a lot of work that needs to be done.

“Aesthetically, we want to lighten up the space and really make it unique,” he said. “Nothing against Hangar 17, but it’s really important for us to differentiate ourselves for our own tastes.”

Designing the interior will be Whitney Johnson and Tina Ross, who are in the process of forming a design firm.

Johnson designed the interior of Shady Lady Saloon and said her experience lies mostly in restaurants.

“I think one of the biggest challenges is going to be differentiating (the building) from the street,” she said. “That space is pretty much tagged as Hangar 17. We need to change that.”

Though details and designs are still being worked out, large windows will front the street, opening up the space and bringing in more natural light. The patio area will become an indoor-outdoor space and will feature plants and a gardening aspect, Johnson said.

“We need a changed exterior look so people really notice it when they drive by,” she said.

In keeping with the theme of making the restaurant and bar a more mature “big brother” to The Golden Bear, Johnson said natural materials and history will be incorporated into the design.

While using wood accents is becoming more popular, she said the trend has been with refining the wood, and she wants to do something different, possibly using railroad ties and other rougher materials, but including more refined fabrics to “find the balance between femininity and masculinity.”

“Since Sacramento has so much railroad history, we want to use the railroad ties to show that off,” she said. “We don’t want to be Portland or San Francisco. We want to be Sacramento, and we want people drawn here for that.”

Bazett said the economy, though nagging, does not give him too many worries.

“Nothing’s foolproof, but we’ve put a lot of effort (at The Golden Bear), and we’ve never wanted to jump at the quick buck or claw over others,” he said. “We’ve been looking at this for several years, and maybe that’s why it’s taken so long. We’ve found what we want now.”

The timing is good, he said, as The Golden Bear gets a revamped kitchen, including a new hood and some other upgrades.

“This place can pretty much run itself, so we’ll have time to focus on the new place,” he said, adding that he won’t let The Golden Bear fall by the wayside.

Hours have not yet been set, Bazett said.

“That depends on whatever accord we can reach with the neighbors,” he said. “We are entirely different owners than the owners of Hangar 17.”

He added that he views The Golden Bear – and the new place – as a complement to the community.

“If we’re able to offer public space to meet people, socialize and offer high-quality food and drink and have minimal impact to the neighborhood, then that’s what we want,” he said. “It’s gotta be a win-win.”

Daniel Mueller, senior associate with Foursquare Commercial Inc. and broker on the Hangar 17 space deal, said he expects Bazett and Modrow will succeed.

“They’re young guys who have a good vision, and it’s not stagnant,” Mueller said. “I’m a restaurant broker, and I run into owners who have no vision for the future. That’s not what we need in this economy.”

He said he thinks The Golden Bear’s owners will provide a unique experience to the area.

“I think that when people walk in there, they’re going to be very impressed,” he said.

Brandon Darnell is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press. Follow him on Twitter @Brandon_Darnell.

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Profile photo of rph
August 9, 2011 | 9:04 PM

“We don’t want to be Portland or San Francisco. We want to be Sacramento, …” Now, that is the kind of attitude that I like.

August 9, 2011 | 11:46 PM

That’s EXACTLY what I was thinking! Seems like the trend for a while was to just bring in the big corporate crap under the guise of making Sacramento a more “worldly/cultured” city. I’m glad to see them fail and to see small local businesses like this and others expanding and contributing to Sacramento’s own, unique identity.

August 10, 2011 | 2:27 AM

Gee, I go to the Golden Bear a fair amount. LOVE the food, draft IPAs and ambiance.
And I’m a grown-up. Best wishes, Kimio–you know I will be @ yor new place too. Just don’t card me or you will have to give me a senior discount.

August 10, 2011 | 5:03 AM

I always liked the space more than I liked Hanger 17. I love the Quonset Hut and the copious amount of patio. My only major issue with Golden Bear is the lack of space. This should be awesome.

August 10, 2011 | 9:34 AM

Be careful not to use actual creosoted railroad ties indoors (I know from experience on this one).

Really looking forward to this place.

August 10, 2011 | 10:18 AM

I’m eager to see what Johnson and Ross make of the interior, especially since the exterior is unique as it stands. Regardless of the aesthetics, if the food is good and the service is great, I’ll be there to check it out (…and I’ll bring plenty of friends with me!)

August 10, 2011 | 11:18 AM

I love Golden Bear.

August 10, 2011 | 2:39 PM

i live directly next door to the hangar building, as in 7 feet away. i’m not trying to be a downer but i am not looking for my home atmosphere to turn upsidedown and feel nervous about them opening. i very much appreciate that the owners will be considering the opinions of the neighbors. that being said, i am a bartendar as well, have been working in the industry since age 15 and a half, and am supportive of their endeavors.

August 10, 2011 | 4:09 PM

I don’t think you’re being a downer at all. It sounds like they want to make this work with you and other neighbors and I expect them to make good on that promise.

August 10, 2011 | 3:37 PM

The space is “tagged” as a former TV/Appliance store by anyone who wasn’t recently a fetus. It was vacant for years, the Hanger 17 thing barely noticed at all. The Golden Bear’s entire success hinges upon it once being “Drago’s” and to a lesser extent “Cafe Montreal”, people have the good associations of those ephemeral times and they rubbed off. Can GB appeal to a neighborhood that is 50% Asian with the remainder being scraping by apartment dwellers?–Not as an upscale bar or eatery. The nearby State Workers are notorious for not hanging around after 5pm, and they go straight for what is cheapest, which has lots of competition in that area. It’s overshadowed by the Mexican Restaurant on the corner that has a huge suburban following (locals avoid it like the plague though).

August 10, 2011 | 5:22 PM

Golden Bear pretty much stands on its own–very few midtowners under 40 remember Cafe Montreal, let alone Drago’s, and they have made their own mark, both on the building and via the kitchen itself. Kimio & co. have made an effort to be good neighbors, engaging the neighborhood directly (even before the MBA “good neighbor agreement) and you can bet they’ll do the same–although currently the area (Richmond Grove) doesn’t have an active neighborhood association (perhaps Southside Park NA or Newton Booth NA will claim them?)

August 10, 2011 | 6:52 PM

A non fast food establishment in the grid depends upon the 35 -45 demographic, and associations matter. I got no problems with the GB, but I hung out at Drago’s, Montreal, and even the ethnocentric Cafe Paris. It isn’t difficult to run a micro business like those were, as long as there’s beer. The Quonset hut location is a much bigger challenge, and differentiating that from the spur of similar businesses along S street will be difficult. Parking? There isn’t much. The S Street businesses had the advantage that the entire street is dedicated and working to attract attention. This business has to blend in and not make too much noise. Hannabal’s was around the corner for years, high quality food yes, but not a huge draw. I don’t think up scale designer restaurant/lounge is what that area will support. Sensible, inexpensive food and beer, with a flourish or specialty or two might.

August 11, 2011 | 8:24 AM

haters gonna hate ;)

August 14, 2011 | 2:52 PM

Why did John and Kimio fire that big, bald door guy? I liked that fella.

September 10, 2012 | 11:01 AM

“That space is pretty much tagged as Hangar 17.” I will always remember the space as House of Louie.

August 5, 2014 | 6:05 PM

It’s amazing what Ms. Johnson, notorious cocaine user and whore, can do with some flowers and table cloths.

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