Wednesday, June 10, 2015

A Revamped Paragary's

the new Paragary's patio

If you've lived in Sacramento for a few decades then at sometime you were sure to have eaten at a Paragary restaurant. For three decades Paragary's has seen a generation grow up, graduate, get married, and start another generation — all while celebrating over a meal with family and friends at the restaurant. Now the flagship restaurant has been overhauled and poised for relaunch this Friday.
Randy Paragary with wife, Stacy

The midtown location at 28th & N streets originally opened in 1983. For me, that's the year I graduated high school. Then I did my four years attending college in Portland before I moved to Sacramento in 1987. Even in college I was eating well and dining out often. My taste in fine dining came with me to Sacramento and I remember how, at the time, Paragary restaurants were the best in town. They were where you went to celebrate special occasions, Valentine's Day, or just wanted a good meal. I had a friend who was a manager for Zinfandel Grill Folsom and even had company Christmas dinners there. (Zinfandel Grills are no longer associated with Randy Paragary.)

Over the last decade (and since I've been food blogging for 7.5 years) I rarely ate at a Paragary restaurant. If I did, it was at their more casual Cafe Bernardo's. Having once been the leader of the Sacramento restaurant scene, it just seemed that they weren't keeping up with the times and were stuck in the late 90s. Not only with food and look, but also by their lack of social media and guest interaction. There were so many other new and more exciting restaurant concepts coming to town.

Last Friday I was invited to a media event to see the revamped Paragary's. Over the decades I probably ate there only a couple of times. I didn't even know they had a patio, although I heard about it. The old restaurant had dark wood, booths, and carpeting. 

You won't even recognize the place now. After being completely gutted and reconfigured, the new restaurant is bright, open, simple, clean. Someone referred to it as Napa French and that seems accurate. A California interpretation of French bistros. 

The most significant change is architectural. The windows were taken out and enlarged and the outside given a French bistro style facade. Inside walls were torn down, including the one that separated the back patio from the restaurant. In its place is now a wide open doorway leading directly into the patio. The bar was moved and also given the French bistro treatment. Even the kitchen was gutted, save for the wood fire pizza oven. All the kitchen equipment is new as well.  

The  menu is not all that different and certainly not edgy except for maybe a bit more use of offal. There's salads and small plates (gnocchi, liver mousse, pizza) and the entrees include French staples such as Steak au Poivre and Salad Nicoise. Paragary classics of their famous mushroom salad and their rosemary pasta remain.

Spataro and Ostrander
The kitchen will be helmed by Scott Ostrander, formerly over at sister restaurant Esquire Grill. Kurt Spataro is part owner of Paragary Restaurant Group and Executive Chef, overseeing the culinary side of all Paragary restaurants.

My feeling was that an important missing element these last few years has been a lack of good social media. Sure they send out email newsletters, but more creative and interactive engagement via Twitter and Facebook is needed to capture today's social media savvy crowd.  A good part about increasing your restaurant's reach is social engagement. This will be an important part of the restaurant's renewal.

It will be interesting to see if the revamp brings them up to date to attract the younger crowd. After all, it's this new generation of diners which will be the next set memorable meals at Paragary's.
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