By Tim Hunt
A favorite restaurant closes its doorsUploaded: Feb 18, 2020
There’s a big hole in the restaurant lineup in Hacienda Business Park.
Sweet & Savory, the breakfast/lunch restaurant and bakery, closed earlier this year. It was my favorite hangout for decades when I worked for the Tri-Valley Herald (which was headquartered in the building that is now 24-Hour Fitness). It has remained a go-to choice for me when meeting someone in that area.
I reached out to Hacienda General Manager James Paxson asking what happened. He wrote back, “…... sad but true ... no more Friday crab and artichoke melt not to mention the scores of amazing baked goods ... we are in mourning!
” …they are definitely missed ... of all of the tenants to have moved out over the recent months there have been more calls and emails on this one than any other!”
Owner Don Eichler wrote in an email that they’d tried to sell the business, but the broker thought the rent ratio was too high and they had lots of space. He also noted that the new landlord refused to work with them on the rent and the changes in the business park. They used to get lots of customers from the nearby courthouse that is closed after the opening of the East County Justice Center next to Santa Rita jail in Dublin. He noted other businesses that had moved out of nearby buildings.
He wrote that they also used to do a robust catering business (about 1/3 of their revenue) and that has fallen as employers have shifted to online ordering and some provide free food to employees. He also noted that they always paid more than minimum wage, the increasing minimum wage and state-mandated sick leave plus other regulations made it very difficult.
Don’s comments about the state of the restaurant industry was echoed by another industry veteran I talked with last week. There’s been a fundamental shift away from sit-down restaurants to delivery. The mandated minimum wage—with no credit for tips—is a reason many restaurants are closing. Sweet & Savory used the efficient fast casual model popularized in chains such as Panera or Chipotle.
It was a long run in the restaurant industry—their bakery was excellent and they had a menu that mixed innovations with tried and true favorites. Another friend had asked me if I knew what happened earlier this month. Interestingly, I had just introduced another friend to it in December.
One of my favorite memories is when the Herald hosted teams from Safeway’s Northern California office (located near Stoneridge Mall) to show them what happened to the inserts when they went to newspapers. The one request was—after we introduced them to Sweet & Savory’s cookies—was they had to be included in all of the afternoon sessions.
Don’s email noted, “One thing I wanted to add is a big thank you to our loyal customers over the years. We all, including our staff, will miss you and enjoyed serving you.”
Good news on another front. Vic Malatesta, founder and owner of Vic’s All Star Kitchen on Main Street, is in escrow with buyers. The hand-off is scheduled for March 2 and the buyers reportedly will keep the same sports format.