Over the Fence:

Vic’s goes belly up

Shown here is the front of the Vic's market. Still hanging on the front of the store was an “Under New Management” sign. The sign has been up for over a year and just this week the store filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Neighbors are asking, what next? Some have started petitions to bring Trader Joe's to fill the spot.  / Photo by Monica Stark, editor@valcomnews.com

Shown here is the front of the Vic's market. Still hanging on the front of the store was an “Under New Management” sign. The sign has been up for over a year and just this week the store filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Neighbors are asking, what next? Some have started petitions to bring Trader Joe's to fill the spot. / Photo by Monica Stark, editor@valcomnews.com


Vic’s IGA, the supermarket with the zig zag roofline that anchors the South Hills Shopping Center, has filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy and closed its doors.

Vic’s Market, which was originally a Jumbo Market designed by architect Sooky Lee back in 1968, has seen better days.

When I went by the tattered old market, the parking lot was empty, the trash cans were overfilled with garbage, and the two trees in the big blue pots were dead.

The big red and worn Vic’s sign had some damage that was being held together with duct tape. The “Under New Management” banner was still up, too. It was a sad scene.

Potential shoppers were trickling by asking, “Is Vic’s closed?”

Folks stopping by told me things like, “I knew something was up when the shelves were nearly empty.”

Another patron said, “the store used to be fully stocked. You go in there now, and you don’t know what you’re gonna get.”

Meat shouldn’t be green and lettuce shouldn’t be brown.

Sometimes that is what customers would get. A lot of the items were past the “best if sold by” date.

Vic’s ICK.

Vendors were stopping by the shuttered market, too. Donald Miller, who boasted he had 51 years in the grocery business, said, “I saw it coming. Bottom line. They didn’t know how to run a grocery store.”

Miller, who works for Acosta Sales and Marketing added, “If the right person comes along, they could make a go of this store.”

Shoppers were trickling into the vast parking lot and peeking in the door that had the “Hometown Pride” sticker on it when they found out about the store closure.

One patron asked, “Is it closed for good?”

Another person added, “I’m not surprised.”

Vic’s customers thought something was up and would ask the owner, who’s first name is Kumar, “What’s going on?” Kumar would tell people they were “remodeling and waiting for new equipment to come in.”

Bob Montenegro was peeking in the store window when he said, “I’ve been coming here for years, all the old employees are gone.” He added, “the last couple of months I stopped coming here because they had no bread or milk”.

The closing of the Vic’s also effects the two businesses that were sub leasing space from the owner; Beijing Wok and Good Eats Southern BBQ. An employee at the Beijing Wok was busy packing up bags of rice, peas and carrots and didn’t want to talk about the store closing. They were in a hurry moving their products out before the creditors came.

Eric McFadden, the owner of Good Eats Southern Bar-B-B-Q said, “On Monday, the doors were locked and foamed; I couldn’t get into my own business.”

Eric said, “I knew something was going on.” The owner had told him and everybody else they were planning a remodel of the store and that was the reason for the half-empty shelves.

While I spoke to Eric, his business partner Dawn Sirstad was running out to rent a U-Haul truck. They were in a hurry to move out all their restaurant equipment before the doors were locked and foamed again.

McFadden was annoyed at the situation but was already making calls to move Good Eats BBQ to a nearby location.

Good Eats BBQ, which gets rave reviews on Yelp for their old fashioned comfort food, may move into the empty Brick Oven Pizza building located on the right side of the shopping center.

His goal is to open very soon and have “The Big Mama Grill,” BBQ-ing ribs outside the joint. He is currently in negotiations with the property management company which also manages Vic’s and the entire right side of the shopping center.

Good Eats would give some life to that side of the shopping center which recently lost Erawan Thai Restaurant. Erawan moved over to Freeport Boulevard.

Vic’s Market closing leaves a big hole in the historic South Hills shopping center. Hopefully, a higher quality market can move in while keeping the original architecture of the building intact.

Camellia Waldorf plans move to CP Huntington campus

Camellia Waldorf School, a private Waldorf elementary on Freeport Boulevard, is currently looking to move on over to the closed down CP Huntington public school campus in the Brentwood neighborhood.

Camellia Waldorf has been at the current site on Freeport Boulevard for 25 years. They started out by renting one room from the storefront and that was their kindergarten. They have grown over the years to include a toddler program through eighth grade.

According to school administrator Ardyth Sokolor, “It was never intended to be a long term site, but it has worked nicely. At this point, it’s just not large enough.”

They are very interested in moving to the former CP Huntington campus and are working with the Sacramento City Unified School District to get it finalized. “(It’s) just a matter of process,” Sokolor said.

They are very interested in increasing their enrollment, but the space they are currently in is just not big enough.

The classrooms are small and they need more space for things like a woodworking studio, art space, and a strings room for an instrumental music program.

“We do more space sharing than we really would like,” Sokolar said.

“Our teachers want larger classrooms because one of the things that is unique about a Waldorf education is the children aren’t just sitting at their desks doing worksheets. They integrate a lot of movement and games and outdoor space and it would be wonderful to have more room.”

The grounds at the current site are all about the outdoors and nature. The children help to take care of the animals and they also have chores. The development of a strong will and work ethic is very important to a Waldorf education.

They use different types of play structures which means they’ll have to transform the CP Huntington school grounds from a mainstream public school to a Waldorf private school.

That’s where the permits and red tape come into play.

Camellia Waldorf has made efforts to inform parents of their proposed site relocation. They’ve had quite a few parent education offerings to let the parents know why they are interested in moving and why they think CP Hunnington works well for them.

They have also reached out to the Brentwood Neighborhood by canvassing the neighborhood and have had members of the Brentwood Neighborhood Association tour the campus and learn what a Waldorf education is all about.

“We also like the idea of being in a neighborhood instead of a shopping center. Community is an important part of who we are and what our parents are looking for and what we instill in our children. It’s very attractive to us to be in more of a community setting like that,” Sokolor said.

What will happen to the building and area Camellia Waldorf will be vacating?

Over the Fence has learned there have been some preliminary discussions to house a Safe Ground type facility on the 4.6-acre Sacramento City nursery once Camellia Waldorf relocates to the CP Huntington site. Stay tuned.

Got a local neighborhood news story? Email Greg@valcomnews.com

River Park resident discusses his storied life as a former Israeli soldier and growing up in small town Ukiah

John-Michael Kibrick.  /  Photo  by Jeffrey Lapid

John-Michael Kibrick. / Photo by Jeffrey Lapid

When a youthful and handsome 24-year-old River Park resident John-Michael Kibrick enters the room, a feeling of familiarity and comfort fills the air as he smiles widely and introduces himself. On the surface, it’s as if nothing terrible could have ever been experienced by such a gentle soul.

The short story is that John-Michael was born in Jerusalem, grew up in Ukiah (Mendocino County), moved back to Jerusalem fought for the Israeli military and just last October ended up living with his sister in River Park. He also recently took a position as a copy editor at the Citrus Heights Messenger and North County Messenger, and an intern job at Fox40.

Prior to John-Michael’s birth, parents Sondra and John fell in love with Jerusalem. While they met in a Mendocino County church on the coast, John (a Los Angeles native) took Sondra (a Humboldt County native) to Israel several times and during one of their longer trips, John-Michael entered the world on April 11, 1990. A year later, they decided to return to California, settling on beautiful Ukiah, a town that sits in a deep valley surrounded by redwoods and that is full of vineyards and pear orchards and that includes a lively population of creative, community-oriented old time hippies.

“I think being in the army is what made me Israeli. It integrated me into the culture, as well as helping my mother. My goal was to become Israeli.

However, that picturesque image cannot illustrate what it was like growing up in a small town as well as John-Michael can describe: “I think there’s a lot of good people in Ukiah, but particularly among the youth, growing up in such a small place, the young people there don’t set their sights really high. I think that’s a shame. And most of my life was around the young people. I think I had a poor outlook on my future and America, in general, really. And, that was based on really small town living.”

So setting his sights high, he did what many ambitious youths do when they want to get out of town – he graduated early in 2008. That’s not to say he didn’t take advantage of what Ukiah High School had to offer him. He joined the student newspaper, the Ukiahilite and became its editor his senior year under the advice of UHS’ beloved journalism teacher, Tonya Sparkes (Dec. 8, 1963-Nov. 11, 2011).

“Journalism was big for me. Tonya Sparkes helped shaped (my passion). She was really encouraging and really helpful. She taught me a lot. She was one of the few teachers I had that was your friend even more than your educator. I think that earns your respect rather than demands it. I really appreciated it. I learned from her in a friendly way. She was very approachable.” John-Michael recalls one project that took a “good month” to complete. Beating out the local daily newspaper, the Ukiah Daily Journal, the young reporter wrote about all the financial details regarding the construction occurring at the high school. He also takes pride in a story he wrote about a local man who served in Iraq. “It won a third place prize in all of California high schools for best news/feature story,” he said in a recent interview with this publication.

In the summer of 2007-2008 before he even graduated from high school, John-Michael was the assistant sports editor at the Ukiah Daily Journal, covering local games as well as general community features like the Mendocino County Fair. “Back then I don’t think I appreciated it as I should have. I don’t know if it’s your age, but at that period of time, I wanted to do national news. But even in the smallest little communities, there are great people to know. You can learn from any experience great or small. I have enjoyed getting to write.”

Despite his academic success, during sophomore year, he thought a lot about college, but came to the realization he didn’t have money to go to school, and secondly he didn’t know what he wanted to go to school for. He didn’t want to throw away money and follow the path that everyone else around him was taking. “I wanted to experience more than that small town mentality in Ukiah that I had a diversion to. And I didn’t want to be stuck in Ukiah. I know a lot of people who get stuck like that.”

But the cliché, life happens, happened for him in a short period of time. Where John-Michael’s life began is where his mother’s ended – in Israel. “She told us in the summer of 2007, (she had cancer). She waited quite some time to get proper medical attention. (Diagnosed) in about 2005, she was in pain for awhile. My family was breaking up at that point. It got rough at the end with my mother being ill.”

Having graduated from high school and ready for a change, John-Michael went with his mother and one of his sisters, Jessica Frykman, to Israel where they could afford healthcare.

Born Feb. 4, 1952, Sondra died in Israel on Aug. 21 2009, despite having excellent doctors. “Medical in Israel is pretty good. They have the best doctors in the world. The bureaucratic side of it is a little problematic. I had the best healthcare in the country and I paid $20 a month for it.”

Living all over the Tel Aviv area and having moved 15 times over the course of seven years, John-Michael said he has no regrets over that period of his life. “I am not sorry I did it. I would do it again if I was in the same situation. When we went, we had basically nothing. My mother had a little bit of cash, but not too much.”

So, to make ends meet, John-Michael took a variety of odd jobs, including bartending without tips at an event hall, to delivering telephone books for five months before joining the army for two and a half years. Joining the military is mandatory in Israel, but John-Michael actually signed up before they called him, and three months into his service, his mother passed away; so one of his initial reasons for coming to Israel – healthcare for his mom – was no longer needed, and yet despite a complete lack of pay, he still wanted to remain in Israel and finish his term.

“I think being in the army is what made me Israeli. It integrated me into the culture, as well as helping my mother. My goal was to become Israeli. They don’t pay you to join the army, but I wanted to stay. I was disillusioned when I left America. In a lot of ways I did find what I was looking for. Something was in me and it wasn’t something necessarily outside of myself. I found social acceptance there I never experienced in high school. The (Israeli) culture is very warm in that way. I had a hard time connecting with most kids I went to school with. In Israel, a complete stranger would act like your best friend in the whole world. There is a sense of community there that is lacking in a lot of ways in America and I think that disillusionment is based in reality. That was a very real emotion, but it was wrongly based on my experience in Ukiah.”

After the army, John-Michael was trying to think about what he wanted to do career-wise and he knew writing had to be part of the job description. So, after searching online, he found a demand for English writers. “I found a job pretty much right away at a high-tech place writing. They sold diamonds, jewelry and Jewish products. I stayed in that job for six months.” During that time, he moved into a managerial role, but he found with the added responsibilities, the position lacked a better title and pay raise. So on the hunt again, he took another job, a quality insurance position, until he landed a job at YNETNews, the English-language edition of Ynet, Israel’s largest news source.

Speaking about how he covered news for YNETNews, John-Michael said: “On one hand, the news site wanted to provide news objectively to foreigners. On the other hand, they are providing Jewish news to the Jewish community abroad, so everything had to do with Jewish news or something happening in Israel. But I strove for objectivity. It was really challenging and therefore it was one of the most important things for me – to be as objective as possible.

“Automatically you have a conflict of interest. I worked there during the last war in Gaza. You have friends in the army in the Gaza Strip. You are very much involved in the middle of this war zone. No matter what you do, the readership is part of the Jewish community. (We would get) push-back from readers to write more pro-Israel pieces. When we put stories in about Gaza, it was naturally difficult. Just because where we were located, we didn’t have personal access to what was happening in Gaza. We were able to write every biography (of each dead Israeli soldier), but about 2,000 Palestinians died and we didn’t know any of their names. On one hand, it’s too bad that was the situation. I wish I could have published all the names of the Palestinians, but when you cover news from one location, you could only cover news from that side.”

“We didn’t have reporters ourselves. If we had any information, it was from Hebrew reporters. We would take pieces of what they wrote, took parts from AP (the Associated Press). Sometimes we would call people (to localize the stories) and put our names on it. Sometimes we did opinion pieces. There was a lot of translation, but mostly it was a compilation from a lot of sources. Usually we’d come in, check the wires (AP and Reuters) and get a general update of what is going on.”

An international news desk, John-Michael said YNETNews included one Israeli, one person from England, and people from other countries. “But you had to know fluent Hebrew. The army made me very fluent in speaking, but I still struggled with reading and writing. I communicate in text, but YNET improved my writing. I used a lot of ‘Google Translator’ but there were things I couldn’t figure out, but I got by. The pay was enough to get by on and it wasn’t about the money. I got up and didn’t feel like I was getting up and going to work. It was something that was stimulating. It challenged me. Everyday I would come into work and there was something that challenged me emotionally. A single article could make you question everything you believe in, including things you could take for granted.”

After six months working for YNETNews, John-Michael moved back to the United States, landing in Sacramento, specifically in River Park with his sister Ellika Frykman. Writing again for community news, John-Michael is excited to have accepted a copyeditor and writing position for the Citrus Heights Messenger and the North County Messenger.

Additionally, he has enjoyed running local events like the Sacramento Food Bank’s Run to Feed the Hungry and blogging about local politics on the Wordpress site, “Politics from the Sac.”


Greek church approaching groundbreaking for major project

This artistic rendition shows the planned Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation campus in East Sacramento. Funding for the $10 million project is presently about $3 million short, and a bank loan for the remainder of those funds is pending approval by the parish.  /  Photo courtesy of the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation

This artistic rendition shows the planned Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation campus in East Sacramento. Funding for the $10 million project is presently about $3 million short, and a bank loan for the remainder of those funds is pending approval by the parish. / Photo courtesy of the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation

The Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation, which has a rich history in East Sacramento, is nearing the groundbreaking for its new campus at its site across Alhambra Boulevard from McKinley Park.

The large, Byzantine-style church, which is the centerpiece of the site, will remain standing while other structures will be replaced.

A plan to build a new church on a 10-acre site in South Natomas fell short in 1993 and that property was subsequently sold four years later.

Through that sale, the property’s former owner, Angelo Tsakopoulos, gifted the church $1.1 million, which was used to purchase the remainder of the block at the Alhambra Boulevard site, with the exception of an area with a small building at the northwest corner of Alhambra Boulevard and G Street. Prior to that latter land acquisition, the church owned half the block.

At a later time, for many years, members were split between the options of demolishing the present church building and constructing a new church in its place or building a new church on an 8-acre site in the 48-acre McKinley Village development, just east of the current church.

In speaking about the McKinley Village site, Sam Manolakas, capital campaign chairperson of the present project, said, “So, you know, in 2007, the economy just kind of fell out and the church was wondering, ‘Well, gosh, are we ever going to be able to build over in McKinley Village?’ And, you know, we decided to stay where we’re at and Angelo Tsakopoulos said, ‘I’ll give you the proceeds from that sale in McKinley Village.’ So, he’s doing that for us. (Tsakopoulos) has been very kind to the church. He’s been a great benefactor of Annunciation.”

Plans for the present church campus project were developed in 2011.

According to a document provided by the church, those plans call for an 18,000 square foot hall, new administration and education buildings, a group courtyard and a parking area with nearly 300 percent more spaces than the present parking lot.

In 2012, the city council approved the church’s plans for the site, as well as the church’s petition to abandon the alley in the center of the parcel.

During the following year, a special parish assembly approved the design and development plans of the building committee.

With an enthusiastic tone to his voice, Manolakas shared details about the project.

“So, we’ve been hard at this for (several) years now,” Manolakas said. “And when I say hard at this, I mean (in 2007) we voted as a parish to stay where we’re at, to keep our existing church, to build a new family center-hall and a new administration building, which would house all the educational rooms and conference rooms, as well.

“We’re going to have a Monday through Friday preschool at the site. It is already existing in our current site. I don’t know the number of children that they have there, but I think it’s around 50 to 60.

“Currently, our church is on the (southwest) corner of F (Street) and Alhambra (Boulevard) and to the south of it is our existing hall, and our existing hall, I think is about 5,000 or 6,000 square feet.

“Now, what’s going to happen is all the construction is going to be taking place south of the alley or to the left of the alley. So, we’re going to be able to utilize all of our current facilities while construction is going on.

“Eventually, what will happen is we’ll tear down our existing hall and we’ll tear down our existing administration building, which is going to create more parking for the church, as well as (the aforementioned) courtyard between the church and the hall.”

“Comstock Johnson is actually the architect of record (and) Lionakis has done some of the initial layout and design and planning of the project.

“Wood Rogers is doing all the civil engineering for us and Tim Crush is also a parishioner, (and) he’s the civil engineer at Wood Rogers. So, they’ve given us quite a bit of in-kind donations on their time.”

Manolakas added that the addition of new buildings at the present East Sacramento campus makes economical sense.

“The parish is ready,” Manolakas said. “Our buildings have really outlived their useful lives. Our current hall is well over 50 years old, the administration building is well over 50 years old and the maintenance and upkeep of the old buildings has just put a burden on the church.”

But certainly to save money in the future, the project itself will cost plenty – $10 million to be specific.

In regard to funding for the project, Manolakas said, “We’ve done fundraising over the years for these different projects that we were going to be moving into, and so from all those other projects that we’ve done, we have about $3 million in the bank.

“Our current fundraising efforts, we’re right at about $4.2 million during the silent phase of the capital campaign. And so, now we’re at about ($3) million that we still need to raise.

“The hopeful plan is that we will get a loan, so we can complete the construction of this project. The construction of this project is about a 12-month build-out. We’re hopeful that we’ll get our building permit from the city of Sacramento by the end of January.

“We still have to go to the parish and get approval for the loan and get the loan, so we’re hopefully going to break (ground) around March or April of this year.”

Manolakas mentioned that it was an important decision for the church to remain in East Sacramento.

“I think it’s important that we’re staying where we’re at,” Manolakas said. “We have got one of the premier locations in East Sacramento right across from McKinley Park. The venue is going to be fantastic, the new buildings will be a wonderful addition to East Sacramento and the architecture and the finishes that we’re using on the buildings are going to be encased in kind of in the same flavor of what East Sacramento represents.

Hopefully we’ll be talking in March or April of next year and saying, please come and join us for our grand opening.”


Push-ups to Feed the Hungry: Sacramentan attempts to beat the world record for push-ups at the Run to Feed the Hungry

Sacramentan Maria Tobar is trying to break two world records – one for the most amount of push ups over 24 hours and one for the most in an hour, which she plans on starting 23 hours into the challenge. Currently, Eva Clarke from Australia holds the record, but Maria wants the record to be held here in the United States. The marathon of push-ups Maria is soon to undergo will take place just before the start of the annual Run to Feed the Hungry.

“We’re going to call it ‘Push Ups to Feed the Hungry,’” Maria said in a brief interview with the East Sacramento News. “Right now we are training. It’s going to be a very mindful challenge, but I want to give it a try,” she said.

And if that wasn’t enough, Maria plans on running the 10-K race after 24 hours of push-ups.
Working out with Savage Workouts, an independent trainer located at 1500 7th St., Maria said 16 people she trains with regularly are signed up for the race.

The current record for most push ups in an hour is 1206 and Maria’s best currently stands at 878 in an hour. Meanwhile, 9,241 is record for most amount of push ups over 24 hours.

She said a year and nine months ago, she couldn’t do 20 push ups, but now she is hitting 900. “I always liked to do exercises and all that, but the reason we are doing this is to break a record.”

As her trainer Chris Savage told Valley Community Newspapers, she just kept pushing and soon got over 550 without a break.

“We found out the world record was measured in one-hour increments and we attempted (to break) the world record (earlier this year). She performed 878. So we measured her 100 push-up time since she needed more speed. Now we have increased the workload a bit and she gets 614 in a half hour, just ahead of world record pace. We have her do total body training – so dead lifts, pull ups, burpies, sprints, etc. She is an Olympic level athlete and this takes awhile to build. In our personal trainer school, we focus on one month of stability, one month of muscle building, one month of max strength and then power workouts.

In addition, Maria had many corrective issues at the beginning (tight hip flexors, tight calves, asymmetrical weight shift). Maria spent her first year of training just realigning her body. She averaged eight hours of intense training per week since January 2013. After spending the first year realigning her body, 2014 has been all about performance enhancement. 
“Since she no longer had corrective issues, all of her workouts make her better. Sometimes people don’t spend the time to correct their posture and they end up injured or note being able to improve. Maria was a very receptive student and always did what she was told. Her diet is perfect and she had a positive mental attitude.”

Since the team is now in “power mode training,” a typical workout after 15 minutes of stretching, is as follows:

    Sprint one mile (at 7 minute pace)
    Do 100 pushups
    50 dead lifts (100 pounds)
    50 body weight pull ups
    Repeat three times in 45 minutes

Describing the dedication to complete the exercises, Chris said, “These workouts are extremely taxing, both mentally and physically. You always know when Maria is working hard because she starts giggling.”

And the results cannot be underestimated. Maria is now in the best shape of her life at 40 years old. She lost 40 pounds. She is the world record holder for consecutive pushups without leaving plank position. She can complete 14 dead hang pull ups.

Whoever wants to join Maria over the 24-hour marathon can, she said. “People will be taking naps but I will be push ups. We have been training a lot, getting upper body strength, working our shoulders and core. It’s a challenge but I think I can get it accomplished. Also we are doing it for a charity.”

People can donate to Push Ups to Feed the Hungry at www.gofundme.com/pushups4thehungry

Chautauqua Playhouse opens 37th season with west coast premiere

Chautauqua Playhouse will open its 37th season with the new comedy, “A Visit from Scarface”, by V. Cate and Duke Ernsberger. This is the West Coast Premiere of this funny new show.

“A Visit From Scarface” is an almost true story from the comedic duo who brought us “Don’t Cry for Me, Margaret Mitchell”.

It’s 1930, and successful screenwriter Ben Hecht is in a pickle. He’s just written a script for the movie “Scarface”, inspired by real-life gangster Al Capone. It’s guaranteed to be a hit, if Capone’s hit-men don’t get him first! The jokes fly fast and thick in this hilarious new comedy as Hecht tries to duck gangsters on one hand and the Hollywood censors on the other.

The direction and set design are by Warren Harrison. The cast includes Jason Titus, Melissa Dixon, Karen Sandoval, Rodger Hoopman, Bob Gerould, Jerrold McFatter and Dave McHenry.

Now showing Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. through Sept. 28, the performances are held at the Chautauqua Playhouse, 5325 Engle Road in the La Sierra Community Center in Carmichael. General admission is $20, seniors and students and SARTA members are $18. For an additional dollar, SARTA members can have premium seating.

Information and tickets are available through the Chautauqua Playhouse website: www.cplayhouse.org or call the box office at 489-7529, during business hours.

Know your neighbor: Carmichael resident Daniel Grice brings love of Italian fare to Arden Fair

daniel grice
daniel grice
A 300-seat restaurant with an old Italian flair adorned with black and white photos and a mixture of rich mahogany and marble tables sets the stage for the newest addition at Arden Fair Mall, Maggiano’s Little Italy.

Touted in 2014 by Entrepreneur as “one of the next great restaurant brands,” Maggiano’s is bringing made-from-scratch, Italian-American menu, generous family style portions and distinct ambiance to its first ever location in the Sacramento area. Maggiano’s opens its doors to guests on Tuesday, Sept. 2 at 11:30 a.m. at the Arden Fair Mall, marking the brand’s 48th location in the country, the fifth in California, and the first in Sacramento.

The Arden-Carmichael News caught up with Executive Chef Daniel Grice, a Carmichael resident to talk about his background and his excitement for Maggiano’s.

Asked about his first experiences with Maggiano’s, Daniel said he dined at one of the locations in Orlando where he “fell in love with their food.” After moving to San Jose, he applied with that location and was fortunate enough to join the team.

Daniel attended culinary school at Paul Smith’s college outside of Lake Placid, New York and started in the restaurant business as a dishwasher in Mama’s Café, an Italian restaurant, in Pennsylvania. He tells the Arden-Carmichael News: “I loved the energy of the kitchen and have been doing living my passion and my dream ever since.”

Describing his love for Italian food, Daniel said Italian cooking is as much about the experience of friends and family as it is about the food. “Huge portions, great wine and a welcoming atmosphere. It’s easy to get hooked on Italian style dining.”

When Daniel stepped in the San Jose location in 2009 as the sous chef, it was a difficult time for restaurants. After two months, he was promoted to the executive chef position with the goal of driving everyday traffic, a new idea for a restaurant generally known for special occasions like anniversaries and weddings. That strategy proved successful, as during that time, sales grew.

Daniel was promoted to run the Chicago location, which had been running for 22 years, but which needed “fresh leadership.” He said he ran that for the last three years, up until he saw opportunity in Sacramento. “My second home has been Northern California.”

For the last two months, he’s come to appreciate the good food in this “smaller city,” adding his appreciation of the city’s surroundings. “I love the fact Sacramento is centrally located,” he said.

With “quite a few wines from California” on the wine list, he’s made time to visit Sonoma twice and Napa once.

While the management team transferred from other locations, and aside from one bartender and a cook, Maggiano’s at Arden Fair has hired 159 people, from servers to bartenders, cooks and dishwashers. Even though the company, Daniel said, prides itself in low turnover, “we’re always hiring. As people are promoted, were always looking for more people to back-fill other positions.”

Located right near main entrance of the mall, Maggiano’s is near Season’s 52 and BJ’s, 1689 Arden Way, Ste. 1148.

Previously occupying the space was Forever 21 before the clothing store moved to its current location inside the mall. “It took quite a bit of time to convert” the space from a clothing store to a full-scale restaurant, but it’s another occupied spot in a small that is now 98 percent full, he said.

Some additional highlights of what Sacramento guests can expect at Maggiano’s:

Sacramento location is set to feature the brand’s new ‘Lighter Take’ menu before national roll out.

“We’re thrilled to be part of Sacramento’s thriving dining landscape. We invite our friends and neighbors in the community to enjoy classic Italian-American food made with care and served in an atmosphere reminiscent of authentic Little Italy,” said Mike Sellmeyer, general manager of Maggiano’s Little Italy in Sacramento. “Our talented chefs and teammates bring established traditions of generosity and making people feel special to the communities we serve. Whether guests are looking to celebrate a special occasion or just let our chefs do the cooking on a weeknight, Maggiano’s will deliver a memorable dining experience.”

Lighter Take Menu: The Sacramento restaurant is one of the first to offer the brand’s new ‘Lighter Take’ menu, which features new preparations of classic dishes including Chicken Parmesan and Fettuccine Alfredo, delivering the same flavors and generous portions with at least one-third fewer calories.

On the House Classic Pastas: In the spirit of generosity and family that originated in Little Italy neighborhoods more than 100 years ago, guests that order a Classic Pasta get another classic pasta to take home, compliments of the chef. Classic Pasta dishes start at just $12.95. Since launching this guest favorite in 2009, the brand has given away more than 11 million Classic Pastas.

Exclusive Wine Pairings: Wine enthusiasts will enjoy pairing authentic Italian-American dishes with varietals they cherish or newly discovered favorites from a selection of more than 50 acclaimed wines including Salute Amico, an exclusive partnership with world-renowned Ruffino winery.

Carmichael yoga studio to participate in free yoga day on Labor Day

On Monday, Sept. 1, people of every age and fitness levels are invited to take off their shoes, roll out their mat and pose like a warrior for the third annual Free Day of Yoga. Whether new to the trend and trying yoga for the first time or an experienced yogi exploring a new style, more than 38 free classes will be offered by 17 studios across town.

“Saha is excited to be participating in Sacramento Free Day of Yoga and offering a unique opportunity for anyone in Carmichael to experience yoga for the first time, no matter your age or limitations,” says Dr. Katherine Bisharat, MD. “It will be a lot of fun with a few different styles of yoga to choose from. Our focus is to meet you where you are and support your path with a healthy body, quiet mind and peaceful heart. Come visit us and bring a friend!”

More than 1,700 students got their Namaste on during last year’s Sacramento Free Day of Yoga. This year organizers hope for 2,000 participants to share in the event and yoga’s many health benefits — increased flexibility, strength, stamina and balance, as well as reduced stress and improved concentration.

“Sacramento Free Day of Yoga gives the entire community a chance to try yoga for the first time, explore a new style and check out a new studio or teacher,” says event founder and It’s All Yoga studio owner Michelle Marlahan. “It’s the perfect time to try out a class if you’re new to yoga, because the vibe of the day is incredibly fun, and you have such a range of classes to choose from! We’re proud to have brought Free Day of Yoga to Sacramento,” she said.

Marlahan brought the Free Day of Yoga to Sacramento in 2012 after a visit to Austin, Texas, where the event started in 1999. Now a worldwide affair, Sacramento celebrates the Free Day of Yoga with other yogis and participants in locations from Virginia to L.A. and Victoria to Guam. Sacramento studios offering free classes include It’s All Yoga, Ananda Yoga, Asha Yoga, Bikram Yoga in Granite Bay and Sacramento, CenterShape Yoga and Pilates, Leap Yoga, Radiant Yoga, Rise Yoga, Saha Wellness and Yoga Center, Solfire Yoga, Veera Yoga, The Yoga Seed Collective, The Yoga Solution, The Yoga Workshop and Zuda Yoga (all locations).

For the 2014 Free Day of Yoga schedule, visit www.sacramentofreedayofyoga.com.

SAHA Wellness and Yoga Center is located at 5931 Stanley Ave. Suite 7 in Carmichael.

Where’s the 1968 Yorozu sign?

Editor’s Note: A follow up about the old 1968 Yorozu sign will be featured in an upcoming issue of the Land Park News.

Photo by Monica Stark

Photo by Monica Stark

As demolition is underway over at the old Yorozu Oriental Gifts shop on Riverside Boulevard, so are efforts to preserve the two business signs.

Gretchen Steinberg, a South Land Park resident and president of SacMod (a non-profit association dedicated to promoting, preserving and protecting modern art, architecture and design), has been working with Center for Sacramento History and Pacific Neon to remove the signs, crate them, and donate them to CSH as they are expected to join other historic signs, which are stored at McClellan Air Force Base with the hope to someday be displayed again.

Unfortunately, however, the 1968 sign that reads “The Yorozu Oriental Gifts” actually had been removed prior to Gretchen’s knowledge. “Dunno where it went,” she told the Land Park News. “These signs each could use a case worker. Each set of circumstances is unique and complex.”

Asked what she thought has been amongst the most “unique” sign cases, Gretchen said: “It’s all new and we have several signs in the line of fire right now.”

The earlier “blade” sign, that reads, “Yorozu Gifts,” is “super historic,” she said, and was still hanging on the backside of the building as of press time.

The Yorozu closed after the death of longtime owner Eugene Hirohisa Okada who died in his sleep after battling prostate cancer on Sept. 21, 2012. The Yorozu store was the place in town to buy Japanese gifts, be it magazines, dishware, or origami. The store remained open until all items had been sold and proceeds gone to his estate: Okada’s older sister, Agnes.

It’s still unknown what the business will become, since it property had been sold to an anonymous businessman.


Rotary Club of South Sacramento president’s first meeting was a memorial for herself

Editor’s note: This is the first story in this publication about South Land Park resident Andrea Picot, the new president of the Rotary Club of South Sacramento and the current manager and funeral director at Klumpp’s Funeral Home, a Land Park landmark.

Andrea Picot, the new president of the Rotary Club of South Sacramento, shows the urn that was used at her funeral, which was held on Thursday, July 10 at Iron Grill (formerly Iron Steaks). Iron Grill is the location of the weekly Rotary meetings, which are held Thursdays from noon to 1 p.m. / Photo by Monica Stark

Andrea Picot, the new president of the Rotary Club of South Sacramento, shows the urn that was used at her funeral, which was held on Thursday, July 10 at Iron Grill (formerly Iron Steaks). Iron Grill is the location of the weekly Rotary meetings, which are held Thursdays from noon to 1 p.m. / Photo by Monica Stark

Friends and family of Andrea C. Picot entered Iron Grill (formerly known as Iron Steaks) restaurant on Thursday, June 10 to the scene of a funeral. Photos of Andrea with her daughter, Olivia Rose, sat alongside an empty blue urn borrowed from Klumpp’s Funeral Home and a bouquet of pink and white flowers from Balshor’s Florist, as the first song, Israel Kamakawiwo‘ole’s ukulele version of “Over the Rainbow” set the stage for a unique first meeting organized by the youngest female president of the Rotary Club of South Sacramento. Andrea, 33, even created a memorial service program with the cover photo of herself on a fishing trip on the Sacramento River.

There were some tears in the room, some laughter, some nods of approval and some whispers of discomfort.

Describing how she came up with the idea to have a funeral service for her first Rotary Club meeting as president, Andrea said: “I had this idea and decided to go ahead and go for it. It was really hard because I was super particular and picky about finding the perfect pictures, the perfect quote to put inside the memorial folder, and I feel like I have a better understanding of my high maintenance family because you want it to be perfect and you want it to completely portray you and you only have a certain amount of time to squeeze in a certain amount of years. I had Ollie pick my urn.”

The officiant for the service and author of “The Power of a Broken-Open Heart: Life-Affirming Wisdom from the Dying,” Julie Interrante, spoke positively of Andrea’s approach to her first Rotary meeting. Having planned services and working in “end-of-life care” for 25 years, Julie said the following about Andrea’s funeral: “I thought it was really wonderful Andrea decided to do her own memorial service.”

One of the Rotary Club members, Anne Hasbrook Smith, complimented Andrea while acknowledging her odd approach: “Obviously, this is very weird, but we appreciate Andrea’s sense of humor. I attend a lot of funerals, and the last one I went to was one that she did. It’s nice to be able to have a sense of humor about things.”

Craig Stevenson, past president, said with a chuckle, Andrea’s service was “very moving. I was in tears from the beginning to the end of it. I could hardly control my emotions.”

Toward the end of the service, Andrea’s father, donated $100 in Andrea’s name toward the $1,000 needed for his daughter to become a Paul Harris Fellow. (Harris founded Rotary in 1905 and those who have contributed more than $1,000 to the Annual Program Fund, the Polio Plus Fund or the Humanitarian Grants Program of the Rotary Foundation are recognized as Paul Harris Fellows.)

The following day inside a conference room at Klumpp’s, Andrea spoke with this publication about the previous day’s events and her goals for the Rotary Club of South Sacramento.

“I was expecting a few people who were ‘weirded’ out by it and a few who were intrigued by it. It was a different group because there were some widows and widowers, so, I was nervous because I didn’t want to offend anybody, but at the same time, it was my own type of a thing. So, I thought, this can’t be offensive to anybody because I am putting this all about myself right now, and this is kind of about me right now. Sorry, sometimes things make people uncomfortable.”

Every new Rotarian who starts his or her residency as president has “some sort of theme and they have some kind of crazy kick off,” Andrea said, adding: “I didn’t know what to do because I plan funerals every day, so I thought well, I should just play on my own and reverse the role. One thing we do is vocational talks. I’ve had Rotarians here for a tour and it’s always turned out really well. It’s always been well (received). I got really picky, getting stressed about the memorial folder, I took it kind of seriously because I do this for a living.”

While she’s not attempting to reinvent the wheel, Andrea said she wants to add a little more fun, and a little more of a spark to the club. She wants to plan a few more social events. She also wants to change how fundraisers are organized. “For one thing, we’ll focus on the crab feed, a major fundraiser. A lot of that money you donate to people – we’re going to have different organizations fill out an application for a majority of those proceeds. So we’re still going to be donating to those organizations we have in the past, but will do things a little bit differently. We’ll have applicants apply on a need basis and then donate a larger percentage. So it’s not like a $1,000 here or $1,000 there. It’ll be like $5,000 to $10,000 (to an organization).”

Also, in the future, she’s looking to put together another memorial service, but for the Rotarians that have passed away or for those in the club who may have lost a spouse or significant other. Describing her inspiration in that regard, Andrea said: “A lot of funeral homes do that. They’ll send out a letter saying, ‘thinking of you during the holidays,’ if it’s the first (holiday) without their loved ones. So it’s kind of nice to do something like that.”

According to the eulogy she wrote and read aloud on Thursday, Andrea was born on July 12, 1981 in Eureka to John and Dana Picot. Since the very early age, she was creative, active, and loved animals. She grew up throughout northern California, living in Red Bluff, Concord, Turlock, Sonora and back to Red Bluff where she graduated from Mercy High School. She danced and was an equestrian horse rider.

Andrea attended Southern Oregon University, Chico State and California College of the Arts where she obtained her bachelor’s of fine arts degree. She realized that being a starving artist wasn’t the path she wanted to take, so in 2006, she moved to Sacramento to attend mortuary school at American River College.

While going to school, she landed a job at George L. Klumpp where she received her apprenticeship and where she continued to work as a funeral director up until her death.

In 2010, she gave birth to her only daughter and love of her life, Olivia Rose. Together, Jeff and Andrea co-parented with love and respect. Olivia brought her love, joy and purpose. On July 28, 2013, she met her soulmate, Aaron, at the state fair and they have been together ever since.

Andrea has been compassionate toward animals, teaching as an adjunct professor at American River College in the funeral service program, being a South Sacramento Rotarian and enjoying her time with family and friends. She will always be remembered for her wit, dedication to hard work, caring, feistiness and beautiful personality.


Faces and Places: Hollywood Park Neighborhood 4th of July Parade

The annual 4th of July Hollywood Park Neighborhood Parade featured a vintage 1920s fire truck, which led the parade through the streets. Dressed in red, white and blue, some residents and their families marched the parade route, while neighbors cheered them on from their front yards. Along the parade route, there was a lemonade stand, a mimosa stop, and a World War II veteran who waved the flag at the parade goers. Like every year, snacks and refreshments were served at the end of the parade at Leonardi DaVinci School.