SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — Randy Paragary, a fixture of the restaurant scene in Sacramento for decades, has died at age 74.
Paragary opened his first restaurant in 1969. Today, his restaurant group owns and operates numerous establishments — from Paragary’s Midtown to Café Bernado’s.
He is described as the incredible force behind the vibrancy that is Midtown Sacramento, taking Sacramento culinary to a place many never imagined going.
He was a mentor to many, including Patrick Mulvaney, of Mulvaney’s B&L in Midtown. He worked for Paragary starting in 1995.
“I loved working for him,” Mulvaney said. “It was my introduction to farm to fork. Randy was bringing real food to Sacramento during a time when there wasn’t really all that much.”
Mulvaney said Paragary was right by his side when he took the leap to open his current restaurant.
“I called him for advice frequently and he would always answer,” Mulvaney said. “Sometimes he would say ‘come in and have a drink,’ or sometimes ‘come in and you buy the drink.’ Sometimes reading an Esquire, ‘I’m choosing the wine and you’re picking up the check.’ But it was always that idea of what he was doing was teaching the next generation.”
Having spent more than 50 years in the restaurant industry, Paragary is considered a pioneer in K Street’s revitalization. In his honor Saturday night, Mulvaney served one of Paragary’s classic dishes — rosemary noodles with chicken, artichokes, and bacon.
Mulvaney is glad he got to learn from the icon, so he and the others who Paragary influenced can keep Sacramento moving forward.
“I asked him years ago, make 20 Bernado’s and sell them, make it a franchise. He said ‘I’m interested in so many other things and I want to bring different kinds of food to the people of Sacramento.’ Those different kinds of food and the hospitality that made him the center of the community is what makes Sacramento better today,” Mulvaney said.
Mulvaney said if there was no Randy Paragary, Sacramento would be in a good place, but because of him, it’s in a better place.
Midtown Association Executive Director Emily Baime Michaels issued a statement Saturday afternoon following Paragary’s death.
Today we remember Randy Paragary, an incredible force behind the vibrancy that is Midtown Sacramento. Randy was a founding member of the Midtown Association, the organization behind Explore Midtown, a leader in the hospitality industry in greater Sacramento with Paragary’s, Centro, Cafe Bernardo and Sutter District, a mentor to so many, as well as a loving husband, father and most recently — a visionary hotelier. The Fort Sutter Hotel was clearly a labor of love and the Paragary family has created a beautiful, lasting legacy for generations of Sacramentans to come.Emily Baime Michaels, executive director, Midtown Association
“Sacramento has lost a true innovator, whose vision for Sacramento’s culinary scene has shaped our great city for generations to come,” said Congresswoman Doris Matsui in a statement. “Randy held an unwavering belief in Sacramento and its people – his restaurants reflected that passion and built bridges within our community. While he will be remembered for his entrepreneurial spirit and enduring impact on Sacramento’s cultural fabric, I will always remember his kindness and cherish our friendship. My thoughts and prayers are with the entire Paragary family during this difficult time. Randy will truly be missed.”
Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg tweeted Saturday that Paragary “help put Sacramento on the culinary map and relentlessly, bullishly invested in its future.”
This story is developing.