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The Golden Bear expands its territory

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The space that formerly housed Hangar 17 in Midtown has been taken over by owners of The Golden Bear, who plan to bring a “grown-up” version of their neighborhood bar and restaurant to the area.

“We’ve been looking for a second location for quite a while,” said The Golden Bear co-owner Kimio Bazett. “It was preferably in Midtown and preferably a space that was built-out or established or had some unique architecture.”

Hangar 17 closed in March, and the space still had all of its restaurant equipment intact, which saved a huge expense, he said.

The approximately 4,000-square-foot building at 1630 S St. has about half of its space dedicated to the kitchen, an aspect Bazett said was important.

“A bar is what we know, but food will be an integral part of it,” he said. “One thing we were not really able to do (at The Golden Bear) is stretch our legs and show what we can do with the food.”

Bazett and his business partner, Jon Modrow, showed off their love of food with The Golden Bear’s inclusion on the Food Network show “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” last fall.

Some crossover with the food at The Golden Bear can be expected, but no menus have been set for the new space, which does not yet have a name.

“It will be a fairly different business, but it’s nice to pay homage,” he said, referring to The Golden Bear, which opened about seven years ago.

The targeted opening date is sometime in February, and Bazett said there is still a lot of work that needs to be done.

“Aesthetically, we want to lighten up the space and really make it unique,” he said. “Nothing against Hangar 17, but it’s really important for us to differentiate ourselves for our own tastes.”

Designing the interior will be Whitney Johnson and Tina Ross, who are in the process of forming a design firm.

Johnson designed the interior of Shady Lady Saloon and said her experience lies mostly in restaurants.

“I think one of the biggest challenges is going to be differentiating (the building) from the street,” she said. “That space is pretty much tagged as Hangar 17. We need to change that.”

Though details and designs are still being worked out, large windows will front the street, opening up the space and bringing in more natural light. The patio area will become an indoor-outdoor space and will feature plants and a gardening aspect, Johnson said.

“We need a changed exterior look so people really notice it when they drive by,” she said.

In keeping with the theme of making the restaurant and bar a more mature “big brother” to The Golden Bear, Johnson said natural materials and history will be incorporated into the design.

While using wood accents is becoming more popular, she said the trend has been with refining the wood, and she wants to do something different, possibly using railroad ties and other rougher materials, but including more refined fabrics to “find the balance between femininity and masculinity.”

“Since Sacramento has so much railroad history, we want to use the railroad ties to show that off,” she said. “We don’t want to be Portland or San Francisco. We want to be Sacramento, and we want people drawn here for that.”

Bazett said the economy, though nagging, does not give him too many worries.

“Nothing’s foolproof, but we’ve put a lot of effort (at The Golden Bear), and we’ve never wanted to jump at the quick buck or claw over others,” he said. “We’ve been looking at this for several years, and maybe that’s why it’s taken so long. We’ve found what we want now.”

The timing is good, he said, as The Golden Bear gets a revamped kitchen, including a new hood and some other upgrades.

“This place can pretty much run itself, so we’ll have time to focus on the new place,” he said, adding that he won’t let The Golden Bear fall by the wayside.

Hours have not yet been set, Bazett said.

“That depends on whatever accord we can reach with the neighbors,” he said. “We are entirely different owners than the owners of Hangar 17.”

He added that he views The Golden Bear – and the new place – as a complement to the community.

“If we’re able to offer public space to meet people, socialize and offer high-quality food and drink and have minimal impact to the neighborhood, then that’s what we want,” he said. “It’s gotta be a win-win.”

Daniel Mueller, senior associate with Foursquare Commercial Inc. and broker on the Hangar 17 space deal, said he expects Bazett and Modrow will succeed.

“They’re young guys who have a good vision, and it’s not stagnant,” Mueller said. “I’m a restaurant broker, and I run into owners who have no vision for the future. That’s not what we need in this economy.”

He said he thinks The Golden Bear’s owners will provide a unique experience to the area.

“I think that when people walk in there, they’re going to be very impressed,” he said.

Brandon Darnell is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press. Follow him on Twitter @Brandon_Darnell.

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