The Sub Shack is no longer easy to overlook as you zip down Folsom Boulevard, and not just for its bright new coat of paint. The place, while popularly perceived as an oldtime sandwich shop, has been generating buzz for its novel Thursday night "wine nights."
Alas, they're about to be suspended, but only for the rest of the year while owners Gary and Jen Seppy continue their renovation of the old joint. Only two more dinners will be staged until next year - this Thursday night and next.
Gary Seppy learned his cooking smarts in the early 1990s at Sacramento's LeederWulff Culinary Academy, which he first put into practice at various restaurants about town. He and his wife took over The Sub Shack about a year and a half ago, and they've been focused on making it a lively, fun neighborhood hangout ever since.
Last fall they added the Thursday "wine nights." Seppy prepares and puts out a themed spread. The theme changes weekly, and often he doesn't know what it's going to be until the day of the dinner. Tonight, for example, he expects to be researching Korean barbecue for tomorrow night's dinner. Other themes have been Ethiopian, Jamaican, Argentine, Spanish, German, Greek and Thai. One night, everything was on a stick, from corndogs to coconut shrimp. "I like to do things that people can associate with, but of good quality," said Seppy.
Last Thursday's theme looked to be "fall" - bacon-wrapped pork with risotto, toasts topped with slices of Bosc pear and blue cheese, and a green salad. Everything is put out buffet style, with guests helping themselves. The cost is a mere $15. A band usually is on hand, but not last week.
The Sub Shack still offers Pabst Blue Ribbon on tap, but in line with the upgraded food Seppy has been expanding his wine cellar, and has featured up to 40 adventurous choices by the glass. While he's cut back his inventory lately as he prepares for the makeover, the selection still is notable for its variety and value.
Seppy said the Thursday dinners grew out of his love of wine with food. "I love wine, and I think food and wine are two things that really bring people together. I've always wanted to open a restaurant that gets neighbors together," he remarked. "Evey neighborhood needs a cool, fun gathering place, just as every neighborhood needs parks."
"I want to make food and wine accessible to people. I want to take the mystery out of it and help people enjoy it," he added.
After this weekend, Seppy also will suspend breakfast for a couple of months. During the remodeling, lunch will continue to be served 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily. The Sub Shack is at 5201 Folsom Blvd.; (916) 457-5997.