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“Ultimately, that concept didn’t suit the demographic of this area,” said co-owner Eric Heffel, explaining that the adjacent cafeteria in the CalPERS building is always full.
“What we’ve started doing is more sandwiches and hearty soups, but we still have healthy options here,” he added.
The interior looks similar, although Freshii signage has been removed.
At Freshii, customers filled out menu cards to make custom food items, or they could choose from a list. Fresca Deli uses a more standard menu.
The same staff is making the food, and some items, such as the pozole soup and a quesadilla, are their creations. The rest of the recipes came from Heffel’s co-owner, Larry Shield.
“He’s kind of a Texas boy,” Heffel said. “He went back to his roots.”
Grilled cheese with a choice of meats, chicken salad sandwiches, roast beef sandwiches and even a hot meatloaf sandwich are all on the menu. Sandwiches range in price from $4.50 to $8.50, and all are offered as combo meals with soup or sides such as potato salad and coleslaw.
“Nothing on the menu is over 10 bucks, even the combos,” Heffel said. “We had to be really conscious of competing with the cafeteria. We want to provide better food for the same or better price.”
Wraps, grilled burritos, salads and soups are also available, and all the food is purchased from local wholesalers. The Yogurtagogo frozen yogurt is still available.
Soups include pozole – a traditional Mexican soup, cream of tomato basil, Asian lemongrass, and shrimp and corn chowder.
Freshii was open for about eight months, and Heffel said the revenue projections have shown for some time that the concept didn’t work out for the location.
Customers entering the new space, he said, will see a completely different menu, but if they look closer, they will see influences from Freshii.
“We still use brown rice for all of our bowls and our wraps, and we have a number of salads available,” Heffel said.
Monday was the first day the rebranded business was open, and Heffel said it was too soon to determine its success.
“We won’t know until people start coming back,” he said. “Most of our business is to-go orders, so we will see what the feedback is.”
In addition to serving the largely state-employed lunch crowd, Heffel said he wants to make Fresca Deli a local hangout.
With that goal in mind, he brought in a Foosball table, is showing the American Film Institute’s Top 100 films on a TV and, like he did when it was Freshii, will be featuring live local music on the patio.
“When the weather was warmer, we had blues jam sessions every Thursday night for about four months,” he said. “We will be bringing back more local music once it warms up again.”
Heffel said the break from Freshii was straightforward, with no major problems. For a time, catering will not be available, but he said that will change once the deli gets up and running.
The work done over the weekend largely consisted of reorganizing the kitchen area and making sure that the new food being offered could be produced efficiently.
People eating at the restaurant on Monday afternoon said they found it to be convenient and affordable.
“I haven’t tried (Freshii) for a long time, but I like this,” said Amil Chandrasekara, a 40-year-old CalPERS employee. “The price is good, and the food is good.”
Roxane Divol, a 39-year-old consultant from San Francisco, said the prices are good, and the deli is another option for those looking to eat in the area.
“It’s a regular deli,” she said. “It’s nothing fantastic, but the prices are good and it’s convenient.”
Fresca Deli, located at 400 Q St., is open from 7 a.m. - 9 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 10 a.m. - 9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Brandon Darnell is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press. Follow him on Twitter @Brandon_Darnell.