May 7, 2008
Full Steam Ahead

Word came in too late last night to make today's Bee story about challenges facing restaurateurs in Old Sacramento, but here's another sign of confidence in the city's historic district: Janie Desmond Ison is coming back to Old Sacramento.

In 1994 she opened Steamers at Front and K streets, built it into a popular coffee stop for tourists and locals alike, and then sold the business in 2000. It closed this past Dec. 31, but Ison and her husband Jim, who also own Cafe Vinoteca at Fair Oaks Boulevard and Watt Avenue, which they will continue to run, have been enticed to return to Old Sac and reopen Steamers.

When they revive it, expected between mid- and late-June, Steamers will be more varied and ambitious, though initially open just for breakfast and lunch. The Isons are putting in a full kitchen, they're getting a beer-and-wine license, and they'll be adding dinners on weekend nights during peak times for the district (watch for their striking interpretation of banana-cream pie).

Why the name Steamers? Janie Ison said it originally represented both the steam wand on an espresso machine and the steam trains of Old Sacramento, but after they get the new Steamers up and running they'll also at least occasionally serve steamer clams.

The Isons are so confident in Old Sacramento's dining scene they've signed a 15-year lease for Steamers. "We're very bullish on Old Sacramento," says Jim Ison.

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