Restaurant 55 Degrees, Ali Mackani's sleek and shiny effort to help transform Capitol Mall into Sacramento's Champs-Elysees, will close Friday after a nearly three-year run. Like a competitor in the Tour de France whose bike suffers a blowout on the last leg, Mackani is exhausted and frustrated by stalled efforts to enhance the broad and potentially vibrant boulevard leading up to the Capitol.
"I thought other projects would come, especially residential condos, but it didn't happen," said Mackani, referring specifically to a proposed nearby high-rise condominum project that faltered. "After that, and the downturn in the economy, I couldn't see investing any more into a project without a return any time soon. Luc is one of the best chefs in Sacramento, but the best food and the best service don't necessarily mean financial rewards. Enough is enough. It's unfortunate. It's not the scenario I wanted on this project, but it's the hand I've been dealt."
"Luc" is his executive chef from the start, Luc Dendievel, who he said plans to leave the Sacramento area. "This town is going to lose one of the best chefs it's seen. He's in a class by himself, but he will move out," said Mackani.
Mackani now will concentrate on another midtown restaurant, Lounge on 20, which he recently opened at 20th and K.
About 30 people have been working at Restaurant 55 Degrees, which will remain open for lunch only through Friday.