Business & Real Estate

Bennigan’s to open, Café Bernardo to close in downtown Sacramento

By Mark Glover

October 03, 2016 09:01 PM

Just hours before the official arena-opening event at Golden 1 Center, Sacramento’s Paragary Restaurant Group confirmed Tuesday that its downtown Café Bernardo restaurant and attached KBar will be sold to Dallas-based Bennigan’s.

In a media release, PRG said Café Bernardo and KBar at 10th and K streets will remain open through the end of this year.

PRG said the sale to Bennigan’s is pending approvals of alcoholic beverage control transfer and building permits. The restaurant group said owner Randy Paragary plans to have the sale transaction finalized “in mid- to late December.”

The 10th and K streets site is considered a prime location near the newly opened Golden 1 Center, where Paul McCartney is scheduled to perform Tuesday and Wednesday nights.

Michael Ault, head of the Downtown Sacramento Partnership, called the 10th and K intersection “a critical corner, and whatever comes into our key corners, we want to make sure they’re an activity generator (with) market appeal and draw, more than just Monday from 8 to 5.”

Asked if the addition of Bennigan’s – which will be near another fast-casual restaurant, Claim Jumper, at 11th and J streets – signals a heavy emphasis on chain eateries in the shadow of Golden 1 Center, Ault said: “I think one of the things that we want (downtown) to be is a mixture of locally grown businesses, and there will be some chains, but with the reality of 200 event days and a couple million people a year, it’s going to bring attention from nationals that want to be part of this.

“There will be a mixture of both. Healthy urban centers have nationals and (locals). … You’re going to have plenty of options down there. … There will be more options in 12 to 18 months. … There will be fun, funky places for everybody.”

Maninder Trewn, president and CEO of Calben Inc., purchased the rights to bring a Bennigan’s franchise to his hometown, along with partners Ravinder Trewn and Khem Babbar, according to a news release issued Monday.

Bennigan’s plans to remodel the 7,500-square-foot K Street site, with a tentative opening set for January 2017. It is expected to employ 75 to 100.

The original Bennigan’s dates back to 1976, when the chain helped launch the mid-priced, casual chain restaurant trend nationwide in the late 1970s before falling on hard times.

In 2008, its 150 locations across the United States closed when its parent company filed for bankruptcy protection. Under new owners, Legendary Restaurant Brands LLC, the chain recently relaunched and has about 16 franchised locations across the country, including one in Santa Clara.

The chain specializes in “American fare with a friendly Irish hospitality,” including the Oh, Baby Back Ribs, Turkey O-Toole, and the Big Irish double-decker hamburger.

Bennigan’s will offer more than a dozen beers on tap, multiple TVs, two heated outdoor patios – one K Street and the other on 10th Street – as well as space for events, meetings and private parties.

PRG said employees at the K Street site will have the opportunity to transfer to one of the other four Café Bernardo locations or another restaurant within the Paragary Restaurant Group.

“Our focus here is making sure there is no loss of jobs,” Randy Paragary said in a statement accompanying Tuesday’s release. “We care about our employees and plan to find employment within our company for each and every one of them.”

The complex that will house Bennigan’s is a former Woolworth’s store that was converted into a restaurant and nightclub hub in 2008 with millions of dollars in city redevelopment help. Paragary’s first restaurant in the complex was the Cosmopolitan Cafe, but that closed in 2012 and was replaced by Cafe Bernardo. The Dive Bar and Pizza Rock continue to operate on the site.

Mark Glover: 916-321-1184, @markhglover