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A historic Southside Park building is returning to its roots as an eatery next year, when N’Gina and Ian Kavookjian plan to bring New Orleans-style hospitality and classic American food alongside a mini mart.
Set to open in late 2012 at 1915 Sixth St., the establishment will be called The General Store and will serve comfort food, a mix of American and Italian cuisine and a full bar with beer, wine and cocktails, while the retail area will serve as a convenience store and a mini mart, according to N’Gina Kavookjian.
Kavookjian said she chose to locate the diner in Southside Park because of the historic charm of the neighborhood’s buildings, its family-oriented feel and its walkability.
“Our goal for this project is to literally be the family hangout,” Kavookjian said.
Kavookjian said she expects her main source of business to be neighbors. She wants to know her customers’ names and life stories, and to be involved in their lives.
Despite having a full bar, the restaurant will close at 10 p.m. so as to not disturb families in the residential neighborhood.
“We want to invest in our neighbors and hope they in turn invest in us,” Kavookjian said.
According to Paul Trudeau of the Southside Park Neighborhood Association, the building was originally Paris Bakery in the early 1900s. In 1962, the building was used as a factory space and storefront for Sacramento Tofu Company until it relocated in 1991.
“Having neighborhood businesses makes it easier to live downtown,” Trudeau said. “It creates another piece to the community puzzle.”
Kavookjian said changes to the outside will be moderate, while the inside will get a new look with modern, edgy furnishings.
The Kavookjian family also owns a restaurant in Granite Bay and a catering business.
Kavookjian said she left a position as a manager of Ella Dining Room and Bar in 2009 to pursue a small business career as a wedding planner and caterer.
“It’s in our blood to do this,” Kavookjian said. “I really couldn’t imagine being in any other job on this planet.”
Originally from New Orleans, Kavookjian moved to California with her family when she was 5 years old. Her southern roots have influenced the philosophy she plans to bring to the General Store.
“In the South, when you love somebody, the way you show them is you feed them,” she said.
Kavookjian said that she wants to do more than just give people good food – she wants to change how they feel.
“You get a high off making people happy,” Kavookjian said. “That’s why we do this and work those crazy hours.”