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Dad’s Sandwiches owners buy J’s Cafe

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The owners of Dad’s Sandwiches recently bought a longtime downtown eatery and plan to add some of their signature sandwiches and rename it Dad’s on J by the beginning of next year.

Mick Stevenson, co-owner of Dad’s Sandwiches at 13th and S streets, said he and his business partner, DJ Rogers, have been looking for a second location for several months. When J’s Cafe, 1004 J St., went up on Craigslist about four weeks ago, they had the keys within a few days.

“We bought Dad’s two years ago, and we made money on the first day we were open,” Stevenson said in J’s Cafe Wednesday morning. “It’s the same with this place. Those turnkey businesses are great in this economy.”

The J’s Cafe menu will remain intact with the same prices. Stevenson said he brought in a higher-quality meat for the cheeseburgers and a higher-quality fish for the fish and chips, but he kept the same two-person staff, so customers should notice little difference.

The cafe features breakfast and lunch, including egg, hash brown and sausage platters as well as several types of burgers and sandwiches. Fish and chips are another popular option.

Around Jan. 1, Stevenson said some of the more popular items from Dad’s Sandwiches – between seven and 10 sandwiches and probably a couple of salads – will be added to the menu.

Customer Brittan Jones said Wednesday that the vegetable burger tastes slightly different, but it’s good.

“Having some salads will be nice,” said Jones, who goes to the cafe about once a week and added that healthier options would be welcomed. “I know I shouldn’t eat fried food as much as I do.”

Stevenson, who worked at the Fourth Street Grill for four years, said he bought Dad’s Sandwiches two years ago so he could follow his passion for food without working to make someone else rich.

“I’m living my dream right now,” he said.

Despite Fog Mountain Cafe – a block away – closing earlier this year, Stevenson said the economy didn’t discourage him.

“This is 10th and J,” he said. “This place looks like New York City at lunchtime. There’s tons of people, and they’ve always gotta eat. I ain’t scared.”

He said Thursdays and Fridays are the busiest days, but he averages about 75 customers through the restaurant from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. on weekdays.

When the cafe re-brands as Dad’s on J, along with new paint and added menu options, he will open earlier, around 7 or 8 a.m., to bring in more customers for breakfast.

It is closed on weekends.

“At Dad’s (Sandwiches), we have our regulars who come in for early coffee at 7 a.m.,” he said.

He added that having a full grill at J’s Cafe will allow him to cater more than he currently can with the electric-only equipment at Dad’s Sandwiches.

“We can really add some hot items,” he said. “Right now, we only do meat-and-cheese trays.”

Deena Smith said she has been patronizing J’s Cafe for five or six years, and she picked up some food to go Wednesday morning.

“I was concerned it wasn’t going to be the same,” she said. “The food is really good and reasonably priced, and the people were really nice.”

She added that she enjoys the food under the new ownership.

“He seems like a really nice guy,” she said. “I hope he does well.”

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

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