Poor Sacramento. It shoots itself in the foot and wonders why nobody comes to visit it in the hospital. Sacramento is not a “destination city” and never will be as long as the City Council has anything to do with it.
We don’t know what tourists even look like. We don’t get visitors, except for the obligatory 4th grade field trip to Sutter’s Fort the schools keep insisting on.
Did you know famous food guy Anthony Bourdain is coming here Sept 17th? He was asked if he’d ever been to Sacramento before, which is kind of like asking if this pillow padded tutu makes me my butt look fat.
Here’s a recent interview question to Bourdain from a Sacramento Press article:
Have you been to Sacramento? Have you spent much time here?
I haven’t spent much time, unfortunately. I’ve been through for one night, and didn’t get a chance to see anything.
Look how sorry he feels for us. “Unfortunately”, indeed. But what he says epitomizes this town. People don’t come here, they just pass through on their way to San Francisco or Lake Tahoe. If we’re lucky, we’re a pit stop. Which means local entrepreneurs should go into the bathroom business.
“Sacramento: Come for the Capitol. Stay for the toilets.”
I was in Manhattan recently and was awed by this Halal street cart across the street from our hotel, thinking how much Sacramento could SO use this kind of thing. But no. We have city ordinances preventing any kind of street cart to truly thrive. Rules like, you can’t operate for more than 30 minutes on any day that ends in “Y”.
The Sacramento Bee recently published an article with the headline: “Sacramento Says No to Hot New Food Trend“. Of course they said no. It’s got four bad words in it.
Check out this line at 2am at 56th and 3rd in Manhattan on any given day of the week including Mondays.
If you ever go to Manhattan, make sure you go to the street cart with the line.
It’s at 53rd and 6th Ave. and there’s a line for a reason.
This is the gyro plate a mix of chicken and lamb and it was yummy! And….are you ready for this? It was SIX BUCKS!
You wouldn’t know that “street meat” was an OK item to eat. It just sounds bad. And maybe some of it is. But you should try this stuff and see the long lines, which is what SOME people in Sacramento need to see before they “pooh-pooh” it with ridiculous city ordinances designed to clearly prevent such businesses from operating.
I could totally open one of these “street meat” carts and I’d put it right across the street from the Hyatt Hotel on a large sidewalk area near the Capitol. And I’d blast my boom box and be singin’ all:
♫♪ “My street cart brings all the boys to the lawn….” ♫♪
In other words, my street meat would draw a crowd. And nothing draws a crowd better than a crowd. Because people are so nosy and curious and want to know what all the hubbub is about. It’s like those spontaneous outdoor public entertainment events, where somebody covered in chrome is doing backflips while juggling guppy-filled fishbowls and an audience forms and people start clapping.
Other people walking by stop to see what all the commotion is about and other people, say that one random tourist that Sacramento does get, whips out his camera and then someone else whips out their camera and all kinds of people are taking pictures with their iPhones and sending photos off to Facebook and Twitter and Whrrl so that now, people all over the country are seeing this really cool thing happening in Sacramento, and is that the Capitol in the background? This of course, leads to more people showing up and strangers on the sidewalk start talking to one another because they are sharing something so awesome and now you’ve got yourself a local cultural phenomenon, not to mention a sense of community. I mean, you always get that one long-haired lady in the rainbow-colored tie-dyed muumuu and finger symbals who dances to everything in front of everybody even when it’s inappropriate, but it’s all part of the charm, right?
I’m not the only one who sees such obvious neglected potential. The Sacramento Bee article quotes Randall Selland of the Selland Family of Restaurants, which operates gourmet eateries Ella Dining Room & Bar and The Kitchen who’s interest in starting a street cart is on hold because of the city’s tight restrictions: “It’s such a cool thing, but it just goes back to Sacramento being so backwards.” Amen, my brother.
Do I even need to say this out loud? We need street carts, dag nabbit! And when the city finally relents and gives in to the people (and common sense), they’d better not blow it right out of the gate. Whoever opens one should take a lesson from the Halal cart on 53rd and 6th in Manhattan, which, by the way, is open until 4am and has a constant line. And do you want to know what the secret is to that street cart’s reputed $10,000 per day income? It’s the simplest trick, yet the most difficult to achieve….are you writing this down, you future entrepreneurs?
Make food that tastes good.
UPDATE: 10/25/2011: A recent trip back to New York City has discovered the the “Halal Guys” now operate from three different corners at the intersection of 53rd and 6th. All three belong to the same group, and you can take advantage of everyone else’s paranoia by going to the cart with the shortest line. As long as they are wearing the T-shirts that say, “Halal Guys”.