Editor’s note: This is the ninth part of a series regarding the history of the “four corners” of Watt and El Camino avenues.
The northwest corner of Watt and El Camino avenues has been home to a wide variety of businesses throughout its history.
As presented in the last part of this series, Jack’s House of Music was among this corner’s most notable businesses.
This longtime popular shop, which operated at 2528 Yorktown Ave. from about 1956 to 2002, was originally part of a series of businesses of the Garden Rustic Shops.
This set of shops was named after one of the shops’ businesses – the Garden Rustics & Nursery at 2520 Yorktown Ave.
A 1955 advertisement for Garden Rustics & Nursery, which was owned by Tom Russell, notes that the business offered seeds, shrubs and trees, fertilizers, insecticides, garden hardware, copper and brass items and pottery.
Garden Rustics & Nursery began operating in the north area in about the mid-1940s with its 2900 Fulton Ave. location.
Russell, who owned the aforementioned Yorktown and El Camino avenues property, became associated with a man named Ray Boroski (1924-1999) in 1954.
It was in that year that Russell rented a business space at 3405 El Camino Ave. to Ray for an appliance store.
Ray, an automobile mechanic by trade, came to California from Cleveland, Ohio with his wife, Stella (Plezia) Boroski, in 1946.
In about 1948, Ray, who then resided at 2305 I St., opened Master Motor Parts, a gas station and garage at 3417 Broadway in Oak Park. His original partner in the business was his brother, Fred W. Borowski, of 4224 T St., and Joseph W. Capra of 700 54th St. was later added to this partnership.
The spelling of the Borowski surname was only altered in Ray’s family, as he dropped the “w” of this name while he was serving in the U.S. Army Air Forces during World War II.
Master Motor Parts, which relocated to the former location of a Safeway grocery store at 3409 Broadway in 1952, continued its operations at this latter location until 1956.
Under the sole proprietorship of Capra, Master Motor Parts later grew into a small chain of stores that experienced many years of success.
Stella, 87, said that she was not entirely fond of her husband’s previous occupation, since he returned home each evening with greasy clothes and hands.
And she added that it was not Ray’s ultimate dream to own an appliance store.
“There were no bars around the neighborhood (within the area of Watt and El Camino avenues) at all and (Ray) said a bar would be a good (business) to put in (that area), and when he set his mind to something, he made sure he got his way,” Stella said. “My husband rented the (El Camino Avenue) building from Tom Russell, who owned it. In order to get a bar in there, you had to pass all kinds of city ordinances. There was a Bible reading class across the street (near Rytina Laundromat at 2525 Yorktown Ave.) and they objected to a bar going in, so my husband opened an appliance store. In the meantime, he jumped hoops to get the bar going, and he finally got it in.”
The bar, which was opened by Ray and his brother, Harry A. Borowski (1917-2000), on Monday, Aug. 6, 1956, was known as the Palomino Room.
Ray had recruited Harry to become a partner in the business, partially because Harry was the owner of a tavern in Cleveland and thus had experience as a bar owner. Harry’s son, Fred Borowski, said that the Cleveland bar was known as the Tremend Club.
Although the Palomino Room opened primarily as a bar, many people remember the business as a place that served high quality lunches and dinners.
In commenting about this fact, Stella said, “The bar was first, but you had to serve food (in a bar) at that time. We served sandwiches and chili and things like that and then we went further. Prime rib was (later) our biggest seller, so we were noted for our prime rib.”
A Palomino Room advertisement, which appeared in the Feb. 21, 1960 edition of The Sacramento Union, noted that its customers could also order steaks that were “tender, not tenderized.”
Stella said that the Palomino Room began serving prime rib and other more elaborate entrées about a year after its opening. And hired to prepare this more elaborate food were Frank Russo, who worked at the restaurant for about 20 years, and Nick Jukich, who remained with the business until the late 1990s.
Another notable part of the Palomino Room’s history was its live music performances.
The business, which seated about 45 people in its original dining room, included a piano bar, and one of the earliest pianists to entertain this establishment’s guests on a regular basis was Dodd Baker.
Other pianists who later played at the Palomino Room were Ronnie Kemper, who was once a member of Dick Jurgens’ band, Abe Battat of San Francisco, and Randy Carmichael, one of the sons of the legendary jazz pianist, composer and singer, Hoagy Carmichael.
As for the name of the business itself, Ray’s son, David Boroski, said, “The name came about, because at the time, in the north area, the sheriffs’ posse had a squadron of palomino horses and they were all bordered in the north area. My father thought that it would be a great idea to tie in the sheriffs’ palominos, which appeared in parades downtown and maybe even in some Tournament of Roses parades, with the restaurant.”
Ferdinand Morant, 89, said that he enjoyed going to the Palomino Room during the 1960s.
“I first went (to the Palomino Room) in around 1965,” Morant said. “We used to go in there with a group (for dinner) weekly, because of bowling. The Swiss (Helvetia Verein) lodge had a bowling league (at Country Club Lanes) at that time. They started in (about 1960) or something like that. The whole group liked to go in there to the Palomino Room. It was good food all the time there. They were known for good food.”
Ray was also recognized as a good bowler with a very high average.
In addition to members of bowling leagues, members of various businesses, organizations and groups, including the Kiwanis Club of Sacramento Suburban, The Pacific Telephone & Telegraph Co., Masonic lodges, attorneys and accountants also used the Palomino Room as a meeting place.
During its history, this business expanded to accommodate a greater number of guests.
Eventually the Palomino Room featured seating for about 60 patrons in its front room, seating for about 50 people in its Gold Room (aka “Gibson Girl Room” due to its various Gibson Girls prints that hung on its walls), about 125 to 150 people in its California Room (which had its own bar, dance floor and restrooms and was the site of weddings and receptions) and about 30 people in its Garden Room.
In 1973, Ray and Harry purchased Leonard’s Liquor Shop at 3401 El Camino Ave. The business, which was then renamed the Palomino Bottle Shop, was previously owned by Clyde Leonard.
It was also in the early 1970s that Ray and Harry purchased the entire corner of El Camino and Yorktown avenues. This property also included Jack’s House of Music.
Fred and David took over the operation of the Palomino Room in 1982.
Six years later, the Palomino Room underwent a $400,000 remodel, which gave the place a less western and more upscale appearance.
This remodel also included the elimination of the bottle shop, the Gold Room and the Garden Room, which all became part of the Palomino Room’s front room.
From 1999 to 2000, the building was leased to David Hinkle, who continued the operation of the Palomino Room.
And after a fire destroyed Jose’s Mexican Restaurant at 5451 Fair Oaks Blvd., the restaurant, said former Jose’s server Alan Boehle, operated at the old Palomino Room location for six months prior to its closure in late December 2002.
Other businesses to occupy the site were V.I.P. seafood and sushi buffet restaurant, East Meets West steak and sushi buffet restaurant and Farmer’s Daughter, a café and specialty food store.
In 2004, Fred and David sold the old Palomino Room building and its property, and its accompanying property and buildings to Ethan Conrad Properties.