The popular Squeeze Inn restaurant chain, as noted in the first article of this series, has a long history, which began with a single location in East Sacramento.
But most longtime Squeeze Inn customers do not recall a location of the business prior to its operation at 7918 Fruitridge Road, where a suspicious fire coincidentally occurred on May 14, about nine hours after the first article of this series was printed.
Ruth Noblett, widow of Ken Noblett, who co-founded the Squeeze Inn in 1982, explained that the business’s existence at 4087 C St. in East Sacramento was short-lived due to a change in plans by the building and property’s owner, the East Sacramento business, National Linen Service, at 3391 Lanatt St.
“In January 1986, Ken got a letter that (National Linen was) going to tear that building down and make it a parking lot for their trucks, so he had to vacate,” Ruth said. “The last day we were open at that location was Valentine’s Day of 1986. Then we started looking for another place and we both took other jobs.”
But only about a year would pass before the Squeeze Inn would relocate to Fruitridge Road.
In recalling early details regarding that location, Ruth said, “(Ken) was on his way to the dump, actually, when he saw a little bitty sign in the window at 7918 Fruitridge Road. He went in and had a hard time getting them to rent it to him, but they finally did.
“It had 11 stools and we opened that one in March of 1987. And then Ken and I ran and operated it. We had a cook. His name was Dave Rendle. A lot of people thought he owned part of it, but he didn’t. He lived in the little apartment above our garage (on Arvilla Drive). And so, it was Ken and me and Dave, our cook.”
Ruth said that a death in their family and Ken’s poor health, led them to sell their beloved Sacramento restaurant.
“We had buried a child, and we were ready to move away and do something different,” Ruth recalled. “And Ken had always wanted to live on a farm, and so that’s what we did. We bought a farm here (in Stockton, Mo.). That was in 2001. Our son died in 1999. And Ken had a massive heart attack in 1994 also.”
Ruth added that it was also during 2001 when Ken sold the Squeeze Inn.
“We operated it until we sold it to Travis (Hausauer), who owns it now,” Ruth said. “Actually, we were selling it to Ken’s friend, Greg Svoboda. Don’t ask me where (that name) comes from. He was a huge Indian guy, and he didn’t have any money. And so, he brought in his friend that he had been in Desert Storm with, who was Travis Hausauer. He was the one who brought Travis in, because Travis’ (parents, Eugene and Lucinda Louise ‘Cindy’ Hausauer; and his aunt, Louise Dowdell) could underwrite. (They) loaned them money. And the two of them bought the Squeeze Inn on Fruitridge (Road) from us.”
Svoboda died two years following that sale, and Hausauer has since continued to build upon the popularity of the restaurant that he acquired.
The operation of the old Squeeze Inn on Fruitridge Road is only a memory, but the business is flourishing with nine locations – 1630 K Street, 5301 Power Inn Road, Suite 100, and single locations in Roseville, Galt, Yuba City, Madera, Vacaville, Tracy and Napa.
The popularity and somewhat cult-like following of the Squeeze Inn was evident due to the many locals who expressed their sorrow and disappointment regarding the news of the May 14 fire at the old Squeeze Inn building on Fruitridge Road.
After responding to the fire at about 8:20 p.m., the Sacramento Fire Department was able to contain the fire in about 10 minutes.
The fire, which caused mostly interior damage to the building, was deemed suspicious due to the structure’s vacancy and barred entries, and is under investigation as a suspicious incident.
As for the Nobletts, despite selling their business in Sacramento, it would not be long before they would return to their routine of operating a Squeeze Inn restaurant.
After moving to Stockton, Ken decided to establish a Squeeze Inn in that little Missouri town, which has no stoplights and a population of about 2,000.
The location of that eatery, which opened at the address of #10 Public Square, in April 2002, served the community well until a tornado blew its building away on May 4, 2003.
Ruth said that she had to be talked into continuing the existence of Stockton’s Squeeze Inn.
“We had a partner (Rod Tucker) and dissolved that partnership after the tornado,” Ruth said. “I didn’t (want to continue the business). I wanted to retire. (Ken) really wanted to and Rod really wanted to, so they kind of talked me into it.”
Additionally, Ruth said that because of a high interest loan, they “couldn’t really not reopen.”
The second Squeeze in Stockton opened at 404 Arby Road in October 2004.
Ken died at the age of 63 in November 2009, and Ruth has been the sole owner of the business since that time.
Ruth noted that she has some good news in terms of the continuance of Stockton’s Squeeze Inn.
“Our son (Gabe) has just told me that he wants to carry on his mommy and daddy’s legacy,” Ruth said. “He graduates from Missouri State (University) in December. He wants to take (the restaurant) over, because I’m ready to retire. I’m getting ready to turn 64 and I’m tired.”
And as for the expansion of the Squeeze Inn in Sacramento, Ruth said, “What’s really funny about it is my husband was a frustrated comedian, truly, and that restaurant was his stage. And one of his routines, really, was people would say, ‘You should open one in such and such a town.’ And my husband would always joke and say, ‘Oh, I have too small of a mind to do that. I can’t do that.’ So, when we found out that Travis had opened other ones, and that they were still serving quality food for a good price, we were thrilled. I mean, literally thrilled.”