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30,000-Square-Foot Food Hall Opens in Sacramento

The setting: a 102-year-old bank building

Eddie Rodriguez

Sacramento will get its first food hall when The Bank opens tonight. As the name suggests, the hotly-anticipated dining destination is set inside a historic, 102-year-old bank building, with its gilded ceilings, circular vault doors, and elegant light fixtures still intact.

And it’s massive. The 30,000-square-foot building at 629 J Street will ultimately house 10 food vendors and a bar on the ground floor, two bars on the mezzanine, and 68 self-service taps, 18 TVs, and two private lounges in the basement.

While most of the businesses opening in The Bank are offshoots of already popular Sacramento spots, there will be one brand new restaurant with tonight’s debut: Poke Bros, serving build-your-own poke bowls as well as sushi rolls. Meanwhile, New Zealand-style cafe Chocolate Fish Coffee Roasters will have a post. There will also be vegan gelato from Conscious Creamery, sandwiches and deli items from Zia’s Delicatessen, and breakfast pastries and sweets from Bella Bru. More desserts will come from Joey Cakes.

Eddie Rodriguez
Eddie Rodriguez
Eddie Rodriguez

Five restaurants aren’t quite ready to open. That includes Mama Kim’s, a new incarnation of a popular Southern-influenced restaurant that closed earlier this year. Station 8, from the owners of Asian-Cajun restaurants Station 16 and Firehouse Crawfish, will sling creative burgers and lobster rolls. Perhaps most exciting is Preservation & Co.’s first eatery — Bay Area dwellers might recognize the brand’s popular bloody mary mix and pickles — which will find house-cured meats, pickles, and other fermented products tucked into sandwiches. There will also be two brand new restaurants from an anonymous owner: Platypus Pizza, which will serve thin-crust pies, and a yet-to-be-named taqueria dishing out street tacos.

Before becoming The Bank, the old D.O. Mills Bank building functioned as the Sacramento Grand Ballroom, a private events space. The local family who owns the building decided to redevelop it into a food hall once they heard the Golden 1 Center, Sacramento’s big new arena, was opening less than a block away.

With its public funding model, the Golden 1 Center has been a controversial addition to Sacramento’s landscape, but it has also unquestionably spurred a lot of growth downtown. And while many new restaurants have opened in the immediate area, the majority have been not-local chains — particularly in the newly developed Downtown Commons. The Bank represents an exciting opportunity for Sacramento’s rising restaurateurs — like Jason Poole of Preservation & Co. and Mimi Nguyen and Trinh Lee of Station 8 — as the local owners have intentionally dedicated its spaces to homegrown talent.

Still, its scale and ambition might also be tricky in downtown Sacramento’s growing but uneven food scene. While many expected the new arena to be a boon for the food industry, several nearby restaurants and bars have struggled to survive since it opened. After all, many who visit the arena for a basketball game or concert end up eating there thanks to its unusually strong food offerings from local businesses. The lack of housing downtown remains an issue, too — there just aren’t enough people living nearby to frequent all of these new restaurants. Plus, the food hall model doesn’t have a great track record in the region — the two-year-old Milagro Centre in nearby suburb Carmichael hasn’t lived up to expectations and often feels empty. Only time will tell how the community responds to The Bank.

Pastries from Bella Bru
Eddie Rodriguez

The Bank opens at 9 p.m. tonight and will eventually be open Monday through Wednesday 4 p.m. to midnight, Thursdays and Fridays 4 p.m. to 2 a.m., Saturdays 10 a.m. to 2 a.m., and Sundays 10 a.m. to midnight.