As the Sacramento River rises each winter, so does speculation about the landmark floating restaurant the Virgin Sturgeon. This year, speculation, if not the river, is running higher than usual. That's in part because the annual winter sprucing up of the old place is more involved than usual this year, delaying the reopening. Owner Laurie Patching has crews applying paint and installing new linoleum and carpets, among other maintenance chores, but isn't rushing the job. "We're not killing ourselves," she says, adding that she hopes to reopen the place around mid-March.
Also fueling speculation about the restaurant's future is whether Patching is about to sell the place, which she has owned or co-owned since 1976, though it sank two years later and wasn't resurrected until 1984. Since then, it's been an enduring destination on the river. "I'm ready to retire," acknowledges Patching, though she quickly notes that she hasn't sold the place. Still, she's sounding a little wistful as she looks toward the 2007 season. "It's been nothing but fun here."