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Food for Thought: Chris Jarosz and Garrett Van Vleck, the Empire Builders

  • CLARA Auditorium 2420 N Street Sacramento, CA, 95816 United States (map)

We're running a monthly series called "Food for Thought," in-depth conversations with groundbreakers who run farms, restaurants, wineries, breweries and bars around California and are shaking up the way we eat and drink.

Our second talk is with a couple of "empire builders" in the region's restaurant scene: Chris Jarosz of Broderick Roadhouse fame and Garrett Van Vleck, one of the partners inthe Shady Lady crew. Neither of them are top chefs or award-winning bartenders, but they sure know how to build brands and turn concepts into drink and dining hotspots.

Jarosz overcame a rough childhood and some tough adult years (including getting 2 DUI arrests and being sued at least 8 times for debts) to become of the top names in Sacramento food. He started with a food truck (Wicked' Wich), then a restaurant in the no-man's-land of West Sacramento (Broderick's Roadhouse) which he is turning into a multiple-location network around NorCal. Then came Milagro, the dining hall-style complex in Carmichael. And now California's legislature has given him free rein at the Capitol: Jarosz has taken over its dining facilities and plans to make our state seat of government into a hot dining destination.

Van Vleck is a local boy who went to UC Davis to study education, then went down a totally different path. After college, he became a bouncer and a bartender, and along with two other food-industry friends, decided to open up -- during the Great Recession -- acocktail bar. The Shady Lady was an instant hit (Esquire soon named it one of the Top 25 Bars in America) , and it was followed by setting up other places, including Block, B-Side, then going across the river to set up Sail Inn in West Sacramento. Shady Lady is now venturing more into sit-down meals - they partnered up with the Deftones drummer Abe Cumminghgam to open up the Italian bistro Amaro, another instant hit that, as California Groundbreakers frustratingly found out recently, doesn't take reservations and can easily have up to an hour-long wait for tables on weekends.

Come to the CLARA Auditorium in Midtown to hear Jarosz and Van Vleck talk about how their pasts, presents and futures, where they're rolling out the next phases of their dining empires, and how they manage all these places without losing their sanity.

$10 admission. Food and drink will be offered up (details coming soon).

To register and pay, please go to the event page on Eventbrite.