It’s becoming a common story: Sacramento native moves to the Bay Area, rises to the top of the restaurant and bar industry and decides now is the time to open something back in the ‘ol hometown.
Tom Schnetz runs several high-profile restaurants in Oakland–Dona Tomas, Flora and Xolo among them—and recently teamed up with two childhood friends—all three grew up just blocks apart in Land Park—to open the Cinders, a bar at 5340 Auburn Boulevard. The location has seen a slew of dive bars over the years, but it was best known as the strip club Embers. The Cinders pays homage to Embers only in name, and the presence of two large fireplaces.
Those friends are Jeff Tochterman, a real estate agent and former lawyer who will oversee the day-to-day operations, and John Mikacich, who owns the real estate as well as the Limelight in East Sacramento.
Schnetz still lives in Oakland, but he essentially conceptualized and designed the Cinders, according to Tochterman. All the walls and surfaces have changed. Hip market lights drape from the ceiling. Half of the 12 beers on tap will belong to local breweries. Cocktails will be a big focus, with bartenders trained by the veterans at Flora in Oakland. But Flora’s cocktails typically cost $12, and the Cinders isn’t exactly in a hip Midtown location. Tochterman wants to keep the drink price around $6.
“Our idea is to use all the same techniques without having to increase the cost,” Tochterman said. “We’ll use good but not top-shelf liquors.”
Will the neighborhood embrace a trendy bar? Will Midtowners drive all the way out to Auburn Boulevard to try it?
“We see the location as part of the opportunity. It’s something Tom has specialized in,” Tochterman said.
Indeed, Schnetz’s Oakland restaurants are all known for revitalizing run-down neighborhoods. Dona Tomas was the first to appear at the now-bustling Temescal district; Flora was one of the first in Uptown across the Fox Theater. There’s a reason why Tochterman’s nickname for Schnetz is “the godfather of the hipsters.”
Look for the Cinders to open the week of July 6.
Update 6/20: This post incorrectly stated that Embers was one of Sacramento’s first strip clubs and has been edited to reflect accurate information.