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Mighty Kong Cafe in Tahoe Park redefines itself with a remodel

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An old boxing gym once frequented by the likes of George Foreman is the unlikely home to what some say is a hidden culinary surprise in Tahoe Park.

Mighty Kong Cafe, located at 3701 Stockton Blvd., was formerly the Capital Boxing Gym before the cafe opened in 2008.

Originally a muffin and coffee business, the renovation converted it to a full-service restaurant with an elegant feel, according to owner King Smith’s son, Lance Smith.

“My little sister had just graduated from the Cordon Bleu (cooking school), and she said we had way too nice of a kitchen to just do muffins and coffee,” Lance Smith said.

What ensued was a full remodel.

Booth seating was brought in, an empty space was transformed to a closed-off office, the bakery counter was moved back to give more room for seating and, most notably, a historic bar was brought in.

“We sent my dad down to an auction in Atlanta and told him to get a bar that would fit in the corner,” Lance Smith said. Pointing at the massive bar along the back wall, he added, “He came back with that.”

The bar is made of Cuban mahogany and comes from Ann Arbor, Mich. It was made in 1902, and it now has the prominent place in a Sacramento cafe.

Regular customer John Gay, who remembers when the bar was a boxing gym, said he likes the way it’s transformed.

“I think if they can fix up this old gym and make it look like this, like a million bucks, there’s hope for any old building,” he said.

Gay said he remembers the days before Highway 99’s arrival in the city, when Stockton Boulevard was a “hoppin’ ” part of town. Luigi’s Pizza Parlor, kitty-corner from Mighty Kong Cafe, opened in 1953 and still enjoys success.

Mighty Kong serves a variety of breakfast and lunch items, including sandwiches of pulled pork, tri-tip and house-brined and smoked pastrami. Chicken and waffles, biscuits and gravy and house-made sausage are available for breakfast.

Sandwiches cost about $8, and breakfasts run about $7.

The name comes from owner King Smith’s college nickname, when friends referred to him as Mighty Kong.

Customer Jim Feller said he frequents Mighty Kong with Gay, and he enjoys the food.

“We love this place,” he said. “We come here almost every day.”

Mighty Kong Cafe is open from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, from 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. Thursday, from 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. Friday and from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The business is closed on Monday.

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