SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — When the news broke last August that a beloved East Sacramento eatery was closing after 55 years, people were heartbroken.
But come April, food, drinks and even a little bit of music may be coming back to Espanol’s former Folsom Boulevard location.
“This is a great location for me to open a restaurant,” restaurant owner June Chang told FOX40.
There are two words that best describe Chang: ambitious and hopeful for a brighter future for his new restaurant, Mattone Ristorante.
“It’ll be about 80 to 70% capacity,” Chang explained. “We are remodeling from top to bottom and then front to back, so we plan to open up the first week of April.”
While keeping up with the traditional Italian cuisine that made the east Sacramento location a staple since 1965, Chang also plans to add a more modern flare.
“Eventually, we’re going to bring in a piano. Not many places have a piano bar, so we’re trying to get more entertainment to people,” he said.
Chang is no stranger to working in iconic food hot spots either. Being a former bartender at the now-closed Biba Restaurant on Capitol Avenue, Chang is hiring on other Biba staff members and chefs to continue the passion they felt while working with the late Biba Caggiano.
“She was a mentor, so we learned a lot of things from her,” Chang recalled. “The most important thing she told us and taught us was how to be a good person. We’re not going to copy old Biba or take over that legacy. But we will try serving and sharing with the community what we learned from Biba.”
Despite knowing what COVID-19 can do to even the best of restaurants, Chang said he’s confident by April, his new vision and familiar faces of Biba will bring back loyal consumers who can’t stay away from Espanol’s.
“We will manage it. Vaccines already came and rolled out, so hopefully, things will get better,” Chang said.
He added that the former owners of Espanol are very supportive and excited to see that business will continue at their restaurant.