Restaurateurs to fight ‘cow town’ stigma
More than 20 restaurateurs are joining forces to promote Sacramento’s dining scene and edge away from the image of the city being a barren “cow town” with a dearth of good restaurants.
“One of our main standards is to raise the level of the Sacramento dining scene and how we are viewed from the outside,” said Adam Pechal, co-owner of Tuli Bistro and Restaurant Thir13en.
“We feel like we have almost a bad rap – cow town and all that,” he added. “We have a bunch of great chefs doing great stuff.”
The group, called Sactown Dining Collective, was started by Amber Turner, a marketing specialist with a love for Sacramento’s restaurant scene.
“It started back in November, and there were several things that led up to it,” she said Tuesday. “Facebook had a lot to do with it. It blows me away how instrumental Facebook can be in orchestrating something like this.”
One of the major catalysts for the formation of the group was a survey published by LivingSocial that named Sacramento as the second-worst place in the nation for dining.
“In looking at it from my corporate background, when we see a threat or opportunity, it’s not uncommon for a group to get together and leverage one another’s strengths,” Turner said.
A Facebook message sent to about 30 people ended up resulting in the first of a series of meetings Jan. 30.
The most recent meeting was held Monday, and Pechal said the group’s major focus now is to hold a kickoff event, likely in the first part of May, that will introduce the group to the public and the media, allowing locals to participate in raising the stock of the local dining scene.
“Pretty much every well-known chef in town was there,” Pechal said. “It’s cool to get in an environment where we can all talk to each other.”
Mutual support among Sacramento’s restaurateurs is not surprising, Pechal said, as many of them are friends and support each other, despite competing for business.
Another local chef, Billy Ngo of Kru, a Midtown Japanese restaurant, said he thinks a major goal of the group will be to get recognition in national food publications.
“All these big media magazines never come here,” he said. “We have great restaurants, like The Kitchen, and they deserve recognition.”
He said the group is in its formative stages, and it is too early to say whether it is headed toward a formal nonprofit trade organization status or something else.
“We talked the last couple of days about the problems we’re having and how to get things changed,” he said. “We want to see what we can do to elevate this town.”
Pechal said that updates for the kickoff event will be posted on the group’s Facebook page.
Some of the restaurants and suppliers involved in Sactown Dining Collective include Kru, The Kitchen, Mulvaney’s B&L, The Golden Bear, Tuli Bistro, Restaurant Thir13en and Chocolate Fish Coffee.
Pechal said the group, currently at more than 20 members, is still growing.
Brandon Darnell is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press. Follow him on Twitter @Brandon_Darnell.