The motto for a Jewish deli coming to the 700 block of K Street should ring familiar to longtime music fans: “No Bagels, No Life.”
The slogan is a riff on the longtime ad campaign for Tower Records – “No Music, No Life” – and one of its former Sacramento stores that will find new life as a spot for food and music. Solomon’s Delicatessen will occupy the former Tower Records at 730 K St., and is named in honor of Tower Records founder Russ Solomon. The two-story development includes a 3,000-square-foot deli on the ground floor and a 2,000-square-foot upstairs space that will be used by bands and live performers.
The deli’s naming was announced Wednesday night during a reception at Red Rabbit Kitchen and Bar following Solomon’s induction into the California Hall of Fame. Solomon, 91, joined a class of inductees that includes Harrison Ford, George Takei, former San Diego Padres batting champion Tony Gwynn and others.
Solomon’s Delicatessen is expected to open in late 2017.
“It’s very flattering,” Solomon said in an interview on Monday at his Sacramento home. “And it’s fun. The idea that you put rock ’n’ roll entertainment upstairs – this is not soft jazz. My idea is that Jewish delis are old-fashioned, and this one I think is going to be new-fashioned.”
The deli is the brainchild of Sheila Wolfe, Lydia Inghram and Jami Goldstene, who co-chair the annual Jewish Food Faire and are investors in Solomon’s Delicatessen. Day-to-day operations will be managed by Andrea Lepore, founder of Hot Italian, and a team from Red Rabbit that includes John Bays, Sonny and Lynn Mayugba, and Matt and Keri Nurge. Other investors include drummer Abe Cunningham and DJ Frank Delgado of Deftones.
Lepore started working on the concept with the Jewish Food Faire co-chairs about two years ago. Solomon and wife Patti Drosins are advisers on the project.
“We wanted to pay homage to (Solomon) and what he meant to so many people,” Lepore said. “And delis are community gathering places, just like Tower was.”
The K Street Tower Records opened in the early 1970s and was among the first stores in the chain. The record store empire had its roots in a drug store run by Solomon’s father near 16th Street and Broadway, and the first Tower Records opened at Watt Avenue in 1960. Before folding in 2006, Tower Records could be found in upwards of 200 locations around the world.
The Tower Records on K Street was distinguished for its psychedelic mural created by graphic artist Frank Carson. The mural is being preserved as the former record shop transitions into its new era as Solomon’s Deli. The eatery is part of a new project in the 700 block of K Street that will include more than 130 new housing units and 16 retail tenants.
“This Tower Records space has such a rich history, and to bring a new user to that space again after it sat (abandoned) is something we’re really excited about,” said Bay Miry, a principal of the 700 block development team. “Once we heard what the team had in store, and how they were going to honor Russ and pay homage to Tower, it became a no-brainer.”
The full menu for Solomon’s Delicatessen is still being developed but will include such staples as pastrami sandwiches, fish plates, bagels with lox, and house-cured goods. The deli, which will offer some kosher items but not operate as a fully kosher deli, will also include a full bar with the cocktail program developed by Matt Nurge. Plans also call for breakfast to be served all day.
“If they pull it off, it should be terrific,” said Solomon. “People will have fun. The food will be terrific. I love lox and bagels with tomato, and cream cheese and onions. It’s the classic and so good. I hope they take this concept out into the neighborhoods.”
Tower Records founder Russ Solomon reflects on the legacy of the business he founded.