A vacant parcel of land at the northeast corner of Folsom Boulevard and 58th Street was once an active place. And rumor has it that it may become active again sometime soon.
Regarding the property, which is located between the Espanol Resturant and Camellia Cleaners, and across the street from Corti Bros. Italian grocery store, Espanol Restaurant co-owner Perry Luigi said, “I was talking to Mr. Cole. He’s part of the corporation that owns that property now and he kind of gave me a little heads up that something is in the works of going in there – five or six little businesses. I think they’re all food things, like a small donut shop, a small pizza place. I think they all have to deal with food, but I’m not sure.”
Presently, signage on the property, in part, reads: “New East Sacramento development coming soon. New development. Retail/restaurant space available. CBRE (commercial real estate services).”
Although CBRE retail team representatives did not respond to requests for further information regarding this Folsom Boulevard property by deadline, details pertaining to the site will be presented in this paper once additional information becomes available.
As for the history of the property, this corner of the boulevard was for many years home to East Sacramento Nursery.
That business, which was originally owned by Kusunosuke Miyai (1878-1972), began operating at this site in about 1929.
East Sacramento Nursery previously operated under the same ownership at its first location at 4746 Folsom Blvd. from about 1927 to about 1929.
It is mentioned on a city building permit record, dated Nov. 4, 1927, that arrangements were then made for a nursery greenhouse to be built at 5801 Folsom Blvd.
According to that document, the property’s owner was then Jeannette Miyai.
A 1928 advertisement for the East Sacramento Nursery recognizes the place as a supplier of “shrubbery and all kinds of plants, florists” at 4746 Folsom Blvd. The phone number of the business at that time was Main 6980-J.
Although several people who resided in that area during the late 1920s and 1930s were contacted regarding the nursery, only one of those people could recall having seen that business’s original location.
And when it came to the nursery’s existence at the featured address of 5801 Folsom Blvd., the majority of those people recalled the business, but had very little to say about the place.
East Sacramento native Willie DaPrato, a former owner of Espanol Restaurant, remembers seeing the business at that site for many years.
In commenting about the nursery, DaPrato said, “I vaguely knew the people that owned it. They would come in (the Espanol) once in a while, but I didn’t know them and I didn’t have any conversations with them. They didn’t really participate in the neighborhood as far as I knew.”
The 1930 U.S. federal census recognizes the then-52-year-old Kusunosuke as then residing at 1425 58th St. with his then-43-year-old wife, Sumiye; his sons, Akira, 16, Kiyoshi, 14, and Ben, 6; and his 14-year-old daughter, Hanna.
The same census recognizes Kusunosuke and Sumiye (1886-1968) as natives of Japan and U.S. citizens, and their children as having been born in California.
In the 1936 city directory, an Arthur Miyai is listed as the nursery’s manager and a George Miyai is recognized as the nursery’s assistant manager. Kusunosuke was still the business’s proprietor at that time.
The 1940 census listing for the Miyai family shows few changes when compared to the aforementioned 1930 census.
Although the entire family had aged 10 years, they continued to reside together at 1425 58th St.
Another change in the 1940 census is that each family member, with the exception of Ben, are recognized as “owner-operator” of the nursery.
Additionally, the 1930 census’ spelling of “Hanna” was altered to “Hannah” in the 1940 census. The latter spelling appears to be the correct spelling, based on the fact that in nearly every discovered reference to this person, her name is spelled, “Hannah.”
The 1941 city directory recognizes George as a clerk at the nursery, Hannah as the bookkeeper, and Arthur as a nurseryman.
As a result of the Japanese evacuation of World War II, the Miyai family is not listed in the following year’s directory, and the nursery building had become vacant.
Following the war, Arthur Miyai and his wife, Amy, reopened East Sacramento Nursery at 5801 Folsom Blvd. and began residing at the aforementioned address of 1425 58th St.
An advertisement in the Dec. 14, 1945 edition of The Sacramento Bee reads: “Announcement: Now open for business – East Sacramento Nursery and Florists, corner 58th (Street) and Folsom (Boulevard). Dial 5-8298. Potted plants, cut flowers.”
Arthur was involved in a two-car automobile accident at 8th and N streets on Nov. 20, 1951. He suffered a knee abrasion and injured ribs.
The Miyais’ misfortunes continued as Ben was struck by a car while he walking at 58th Street and Folsom Boulevard on March 19, 1952.
But both Arthur and Ben experienced some fortune, as their injuries were relatively mild, considering the nature of the accidents.
An East Sacramento Nursery and Florists advertisement in the May 7, 1954 edition of The Bee encouraged readers at that time to give their mothers a potted plant for Mother’s Day.
The selection of potted flowers available at that time included African violets, azaleas, caladium, calceolaria, fuchsia, gloxinia, hydrangeas, rhododendrons, roses and bonsai – “Japanese dwarf trees in dishes.”
Additionally, the advertisement notes that the business was also offering cut flowers and corsages.
In 1955, an addition to the nursery was completed at a cost of about $3,360.
About 12 years later, the business’s name was shortened to East Sacramento Florists, presumably based on its offerings at that time. The place continued to use its previously established slogan, “Flowers for all occasions.”
Arthur and Amy maintained the operation of their business until about 1980, and by 1982, an El Dorado Savings and Loan branch was operating on the site.
El Dorado Savings and Loan ceased operations at 5801 Folsom Blvd. on Friday, June 3, 2011 and reopened at its then-new and present location at 5500 Folsom Blvd. three days later. The building at the latter address had previously housed World Savings and Wachovia bank branches.
After the Wachovia Corporation was purchased by Wells Fargo in 2008, the 5500 Folsom Blvd. building became available on the market, since Wells Fargo was already operating its nearby Camellia City Center branch at 5700 Folsom Blvd.
During his interview for this article, DaPrato recalled another former detail about the featured old nursery site.
“There was a house right behind (the nursery building) – a two-story house,” DaPrato said. “The house was there when the bank was there, too.”
As previously mentioned in this article, this paper will provide details about the former nursery site at 58th Street and Folsom Boulevard once additional information becomes available.
A vacant parcel of land at the northeast corner of Folsom Boulevard and 58th Street was once an active place. And rumor has it that it may become active again sometime soon.
‘Striking Out Childhood Cancer’: C.K. McClatchy baseball players shave their heads and raise funds for St. Baldrick’s
Thirty members of the C.K. McClatchy High School baseball team and 40 others, including members of the rugby team, celebrated St. Patrick’s the bald way by having their heads shaved to help conquer kids’ cancer on Sunday, March 10 at Giovanni’s Pizza in Land Park. Four of the shavees were knighted for participating in St. Baldrick’s for seven years.
The team has participated in St. Baldrick’s year after year since 2008 when Jake Luigi was a freshman on the team. His younger brother Tino had undergone several months of aggressive treatments including chemotherapy, surgeries, a stem cell transplant, and radiation after he was diagnosed with Stage IV neuroblastoma cancer (a cancer of the nervous system).
Tino had a large tumor wrapped around his adrenal gland and many of his vital organs. There were cancerous lesions all over his body and his bone marrow was 90 percent cancer cells. Things did not look good for him.
The treatment Tino received had just recently been approved by the Children’s Oncology Group and though it was life threatening, it was the only chance he had to beat this disease.
“By the grace of God he made it through and he is a thriving 17 year old today– cancer free for 11 years,” says his mother Jean Luigi.
“My son is alive today because of the advancements made through research. I will be forever grateful to St. Baldrick’s and the doctors and nurses who dedicate their lives to finding a cure for childhood cancer.”
Tino’s oncologist, Dr. Douglas Taylor from UC Davis, performed the knighting ceremony. Taylor thanked everybody for being a part of the St. Baldrick’s event because more research is needed and he mentioned that pediatrics is an underfunded branch of medicine.
To Jean, having Dr. Taylor knight the shavees gave a face to the cause. “We tell the boys that the sacrifice they make will give funds to doctors researching promising treatments for childhood cancers. Now they get to meet one of these doctors,” she said before the event.
Jean admires the courage of the team every year. “I know it is not an easy decision to shave your head, especially at this age. But year after year, they sign up to support this cause. I admire their courage and willingness to make this sacrifice on behalf of children they don’t even know,” she said.
Why? Because the Luigi family is more involved in the community than any other family he’s met in Land Park, he said, recalling when Perry Luigi (Espanol Resturant) would donate and cook the annual spaghetti dinner for Crocker-Riverside Elementary school for nearly 15 years. “This is a huge under taking and the school benefited greatly from their efforts. The Luigi’s were also involved with the local little league and rugby club. Always lending a hand where needed and helping raise funds for the teams and community,” de Necochea said.
Jean Luigi said the first year, a private event was held right on the varsity baseball field and just about every player and coach shaved their head, raising more than $7,000. Since 2008, C.K. McClatchy baseball has been helping to “Strike Out Childhood Cancer” every year. Over the past five years, the team has helped raise more than $47,000 dollars for childhood cancer research, she said.
De Necochea said being a good teammate is putting the good of the team before oneself. “When one of your players says: ‘My little brother is a cancer survivor thanks to current research and medical developments. We should help other kids with cancer by shaving our heads in exchange for donations and awareness to this worthy cause,’ it speaks volumes. This is what Jake Luigi did in 2008 when speaking about his little brother, Tino.”
So the entire team and coaches joined in the effort and it was an emotional and team bonding experience for everyone.
“The first time it was nerve racking and fun. I think it’s a sacrifice and a very brave act. The awareness a shaved head (especially by someone who usually sports a full head of hair) brings is inspiring.
“The first few years I participated, I found myself explaining the reason behind my bald head to clients, neighbors and friends. Now, it’s kinda of old hat. I get more of ‘Oh you did that cancer benefit thing again.’”
According to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation website, events of all sizes are held across the country and around the world throughout the year, but March, especially St. Patrick’s Day, is the busiest fundraising season for the Foundation. Funds raised at each event allow the Foundation to award research and infrastructure grants to some of the most brilliant childhood cancer researchers in the world to find cures and improve the quality of life for patients and survivors.
On the Web: www.stbaldricks.org
For those who either grew up on or near Janey Way or for those familiar with Marty’s column, it should come as no surprise that many people have a very deep-rooted love for this local street.
This fact is even more understandable since the street was constructed more than 60 years ago.
But nonetheless, the great number of stories that derive from Janey Way can seem quite remarkable when considering that the street is a mere 909 feet long and never included more than its current total of 32 houses – three of which are actually duplexes.
Certainly, this article is not intended to replace Marty’s popular column. So, be sure to read his current “Janey Way Memories.”
Instead, this first and only edition of “More Janey Way Memories” is presented solely to tell the story of one more person who grew up on Janey Way and his lifelong love for this East Sacramento street and his current project to preserve a portion of its past.
This person is Tom Hart, who grew up on Janey Way.
Tom, 57, who follows Marty’s column, is familiar with many of the column’s related stories and people and can sometimes even read about himself, is working on a project that will bring him back to his old neighborhood.
Dust has been flying, machinery has been running off and on and hammers have been pounding at the old Hart house since last July.
This activity, said Tom, who is of Scottish, Irish and English ancestry, is part of a project that will fulfill his dream to move back into his childhood home, where he grew up with his mother Rose (Hawkins) Hart, his sister – the former Susan Hart, now Susan Chevassau – and for a shorter period of time, his father, Bernie, who passed away in 1961.
“When my mother (who passed away in the home on Dec. 19, 2001) was sick and I was staying with her, we would talk in the evenings and one of the things that I told her is I wanted to move back home,” Tom said. “That really warmed her heart and made her feel happy that her son was going to be moving back home and back into the neighborhood.”
The remodeling project includes the addition of about 400 square feet of livable space with the expansion of the living room and master bedroom, a new master bathroom, a new laundry room and the addition of more closet space and a covered porch area behind the house. Additionally, the old garage was demolished and replaced with a two and a half-car garage, the roof and windows were replaced and new insulation was installed throughout the home.
Tom, a 1971 graduate of Sacramento High School, said that although he had hoped to move into the house with his wife Diana by Christmastime, he is now setting a more realistic goal of once again becoming a Janey Way resident by April.
The upgrading of the old Hart house helps to preserve one of the street’s older homes.
Research for this article revealed the following history of Janey Way:
According to the 1949 city directory, the first houses to be built on Janey Way – those of the late 1940s – were the homes of Ross Relles, James Tomassetti, Dante Viani and Jose “Joe” Micheli.
During the time their homes were built, Relles operated his well-known Relles Florist at 2200 J St., Tomassetti was a painter for the Western Pacific Railroad, Viani worked for Koro Products Co. at 2116 19th St. and Micheli was a bartender at the Square Deal Café at 5723 Folsom Blvd., where the Espanol Restaurant is now located.
Carmen Tomassetti, who married James Tomassetti on Aug. 14, 1948 and raised five children in her Janey Way home, said that she moved into her then-new house on Dec. 10, 1948.
“My house was built in 1948,” said Carmen, who is a native of Monte Porzio, Italy. “The first houses (on Janey Way) were built in 1948, then little by little different companies built different houses.”
The 1952 city directory shows the growth of the street by this time, as follows: Olin N. Boggs, Joseph C. Brady, Dominic J. Costamagna, Raymond Cullivan, Adelbert C. Jacobs, Richard Kinzel, Jr., Eugene E. McKnight, Jose Micheli, Gene C. O’Keefe, Virgil W. Petrocchi, Mateo Puccetti, Ralph Puccetti, Ross Relles, Joseph C. Romel, Loren E. Sizemore, Eugene R. Thomsen, James Tomassetti, Dante H. Viani, Louie E. Viani and three vacant homes. As an historical note, Janey Way no longer extended south of M Street to include its 1300s addresses by the late 1950s. This property is presently part of the site of St. Mary’s School.
Enzo Costa said that he moved into the neighborhood in 1972 and now lives in the last house that was built on Janey Way. He had the house constructed in 1976.
Tom, who with his wife, has three children, Angela, Rebecca and T.J., said that a prime example that his neighborhood is fairly old is the fact that Costa is considered one of Janey Way’s “new kids on the block.”
Costa may have had the last house built in the neighborhood, but as a resident of the street, he has much seniority over a family, for instance, who moved to a house on Janey Way about two years ago.
Fortunately, due to modern technology, most readers who are interested in seeing the old Hart house do not have to go further than their own computers to do so.
In order that Tom’s sister could observe various remodeling stages of the home, Tom has placed footage of these remodeling stages on the Web site www.youtube.com. The short videos, which currently present 13 remodeling stages, can be found using the search words: “Hart Janey Way remodel.”
Tom plans to load seven more videos onto the site to show a full-range summary of the project. He also plans to eventually take the main highlights of all his videos and combine them to create a 15-minute video that he will also post on the Web site.
Tom said that the simple fact that he desires to move back to his childhood house shows how special the home and its neighborhood and residents are in his heart.
“I just have so many fond memories of the place,” Tom said. “I’m coming full circle. My kids have grown and now I have a chance to come back home to be where still many of the neighbors live. Where, when I was smaller, these neighbors would take care of me, now I’m coming back home, so I can take care of them.”
When it comes to Sacramento history, few places in the city have such a rich heritage as the Español Restaurant.
Although such an impression is undoubtedly correct, the historic building and sign represent only a part of this restaurant’s rich past.
With a few steps inside this old building at 5723 Folsom Blvd., which was built in 1946 as the new home of the Square Deal Café, one can observe a business that is swarming with history.
Immediately inside the front doors of the place, black and white photographs of days of old begin to tell the story of a business that began long before it opened at its current site in 1965.
Hanging on the walls of the lobby area, which is an addition to the original structure, are photographs of the business’s previous site at 231 I St., as well as other images such as photographs of members of the Luigi family. The business is currently owned by Perry Luigi, Paula (Luigi) Serrano and Karen (Luigi) Zito, whose father Frank “Babe” Luigi and uncle Mario Luigi previously owned the business.
The longtime tradition of the restaurant, however, began long before Babe and Mario purchased the business in 1959.
The restaurant, in fact, was established in an even earlier location than the 2nd and I streets site, near today’s historic Southern Pacific train depot.
Español of yesteryear
During the 19th century, the city was home to many hotels such as the Pacific Hotel at 916-918 11th St., the International Hotel at 320-326 K St. and the Tremont Hotel at 112-114 J St.
At the site of the Tremont Hotel, a new hotel, known as Hotel Español, emerged as early as 1919.
It was at this hotel, which in its early years was owned by Victoriano Urrutia and then Castro Arrate and Mamerto Fernandez, that the Español Restaurant began to evolve.
On the ground floor of the large, brick building, food such as oxtail stew, pig knuckles, lamb fries, lamb chops, tripe, chicken and veal were prepared and cooked for the Basque tenants.
News of these meals eventually made its way to many outsiders of the building, as others were introduced to the boarders’ food and the eatery increased in popularity.
During the early 1930s, the well-known Sacramentan Ancil Hoffman, who has a park named in his honor in Carmichael, became the owner of the building.
With the 1952 sale of the Hotel Español building, the Español Restaurant was relocated to the Commercial Hotel, which had been constructed about 15 years earlier.
This move was arranged following Arrate’s retirement and under the direction of the restaurant’s chef Joe Trueba and his close friend, Joe Martinez.
The restaurant, which continued to increase in popularity and serve Basque tenants who relocated to the Commercial Hotel, was operated by Trueba and Martinez until the business’s sale to Babe and Mario Luigi, who brought in the eatery’s Italian food offerings.
The development of Old Sacramento, which included the nearby extension of Interstate 5, resulted in the second relocation of the restaurant within a 13-year span of time.
Moving to East Sac
Opening at its current site in 1965, the Español Restaurant, despite no longer serving unique food to Basque hotel tenants, carried forth many of its traditions in East Sacramento, near the historic Little Italy neighborhood.
Beginning her career with the Español in 1936, Trabazo retired from the restaurant 52 years later.
Waitress Leah Alcanter also dedicated her fair share of time as an Español waitress, as she worked at the restaurant for 35 years.
Many other employees, including 26-year waitress Diane Lara and 25-year dishwasher David Larsen, have spent many years at the restaurant throughout its history.
This history includes various famous diners such as actress Ann Sothern, actor Leo Carrillo, singer Frankie Laine, boxer Max Baer, flamenco dancer Jose Greco, Gov. Earl Warren and Secretary of State Frank Jordan, Sr.
East Sacramento native Willie DaPrato, who was part owner of the restaurant with Babe and Mario from 1978 to 1985, said that he enjoyed working with the Luigi family.
“I had a great time and (Babe and Mario) were two wonderful people,” DaPrato said. “I had no problems. I went in on a handshake and I left on a handshake. Every now and again, I still drop into the restaurant. It’s one of the finest family-owned restaurants in town with lots of home-style cooked food and it’s just very good.”
On Jan 1, 1988, Perry, Paula and Karen, who began assisting their father at the restaurant as children, purchased the Español from Babe, who passed away three months later.
Louise Luigi said that she is proud of her children’s accomplishments as owners of the restaurant.
“They have done a wonderful job running the place and my husband (Babe) would be very proud to see that it is continuing on today,” Louise said.
With a look around the Español on any given day, one can observe people who have been dining at the restaurant for many years, as well as those who are much newer guests of the establishment, which also includes a popular bar.
Español customer Mary Giacomotto said that she has been enjoying visiting the restaurant since it was located at 231 I St.
Perry said that the secret of the restaurant’s longtime success is its traditional, family-style Italian dishes, as well as its great value and fine service.
The Español offers dishes ranging from veal cutlets and chicken cacciatore with polenta to cheese ravioli pesto and lasagna. Guests can also enjoy traditional spaghetti and raviolis with meat sauce.
Also among the restaurant’s many menu items is its famous minestrone soup, Perry explained.
“People come from miles around to buy our minestrone soup-to-go for their dinners and family functions such as Christmas Eve,” Perry said. “I think I sell more soup than any restaurant in Sacramento.”
Complete lunches and dinners include tureen of minestrone soup, salad, an entrée of one’s choice, pasta, vegetables, coffee or iced tea and spumoni.
Prices for these lunches range from $9 to $11 and the dinner prices range from $15 to $20. And for those who prefer a lighter meal, soups and salads cost about $5.
The restaurant also includes the following daily specials: roast turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy on Tuesdays, veal stew on Wednesdays, corned beef and cabbage on Thursdays and meatloaf on Fridays.
Paula said that people are attracted to the restaurant, in general, because it reminds them of the traditional, family-style restaurants of New York, Chicago and San Francisco.
“It reminds them of the Godfather-type restaurants,” Perry added with a chuckle.
Español Restaurant, which has a seating capacity of 160, is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and on Sundays from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Perry said that he takes great pride in carrying forth the tradition of what he refers to as “the Italian restaurant with a Spanish name.”
“We’re proud of our long history in East Sacramento, as well as the Old Sacramento area, and we invite people to take a step back in time and drive to East Sacramento to enjoy Sacramento’s oldest restaurant,” Perry said. “Come on in, join us and experience traditional, family-style cooking and be part of the Español family.”
For additional information about Español Restaurant, call (916) 457-1936.
E-mail Lance with email@example.com.