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Muntean’s soups’ one year anniversary

This month is the one-year anniversary of the opening of the restaurant Muntean’s Soups, Salads, and Sandwiches at 1225 J St. George Muntean owns the restaurant with his wife, and while soup is the specialty, Muntean is no soup nazi.

Entering the restaurant, a customer is likely to be surprised by a barrage of soup samples offered as he or she contemplates what to buy.

Muntean said his generosity is a product of his Romanian heritage as well as his business philosophy.

“Romanians are very friendly,” he said. “(This work) is my bread and butter. I offer the customer as much as I can if they are new here. I want them to choose something they like,” he said.

Muntean’s offers 12-15 soups per day. Some of these include: Hungarian chicken stew, curry chicken, turkey gumbo, clam chowder, and broccoli cheese among other more conventional soups.

The restaurant also offers roughly 20 daily sandwiches such as smoked turkey, turkey and avocado, and corned beef; and salads such as falafel salad, spinach salad, and a Greek garden salad.

Everyday the restaurant features 10 special-menu items such as spicy tomato vegetable soup, potato cheese soup, and cream of broccoli.

Three days out of the week special regional meals are featured as well. On Tuesdays Romanian food is offered, on Wednesdays it’s Greek and on Thursdays it’s Hungarian.

The recipes come from either Munteans’ family, or cooking ideas he discovered while in and around his native country of Romania.

“We offer Romanian, Hungarian, and Greek recipes. All of the recipes either came from my parents, or things I picked up while travelling,” Muntean said.

 Muntean’s also offers sodas, tea, and coffee, but no alcohol.

Muntean said that the majority of his clients come from the surrounding office buildings and Sacramento Convention Center bustle. Because of the proximity to these spaces, many of his customers are regulars.

The other large demographic is fans of his old restaurant, Hannibal’s.

“25-30 percent of my customers used to go to Hannibal’s,” he said. “They come here because they liked the food there.”

Located at 525 L St., Hannibal’s was opened on a whim by Muntean after visiting a friend in Roseville. He found that he preferred the temperate California climate to his previous home in Florida.

“I don’t look at the economy, I look at the weather,” Muntean said.

Hannibal’s utilized the same recipes as Muntean’s. However, after leasing the space that housed Hannibal’s for 10 years, Muntean’s landlord would not renew the lease with him.

Muntean then opened the Muntean Blvd. Bistro in Roseville. But after five years the restaurant went under.

“I had put everything I had into my restaurant in Roseville. When it failed, some of my family came out here to help me get started again,” he said.

In October of 2010, Muntean opened his soup restaurant on 12th and J Streets, and it seems that the third try is a charm.

“There is no competition, not like the way I do it,” he said.

Muntean’s offerings of samples, explanations of the menu, and overall charisma show that he cares about his customers. Furthermore, he said one of his favorite aspects of owning the restaurant is opening people’s minds to new types of food.

“The best thing is offering kids a taste,” he said.

Muntean said he chose the 1225 J st., location because it had previously been a restaurant and did not need much renovation.

“I owned everything already from the Roseville restaurant, so it made moving less expensive,” he said.

Muntean said he hopes to eventually expand.

“I would like to start a franchise,” Muntean said. “But this worries my wife.”

Muntean’s is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.

For more information, visit the restaurant’s website.  

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